Nearly one year after the shooting that left six dead and 13 injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, community members have continued taking progressive steps to unify Tucson and the nation.
At the Young Women’s Christian Association on Nov. 30, Tucson Mayor-elect Jonathon Rothschild and Ray Carroll, of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, recognized two new initiatives aimed at unifying the community.
The first initiative is a commemorative book, “Together We Thrive,” that will be sold throughout the community. The second initiative is the the newly-organized Fund for Civility, Respect, and Understanding.
“The book says from here, we go forward. As a community we have the mission of establishing civility, tolerance, and respect in our public spheres,” said Rothschild. “Janet’s book is a symbol of what we can achieve.”
Written and photographed by YWCA Executive Director Janet Marcotte, “Together We Thrive,” consists of honorary photographs taken at the victim’s memorial sites including Safeway, the Arizona Medical Center, and Giffords’ office.
Accompanying the photographs is text from President Barrack Obama’s speech given in Tucson a few days after the shooting.
“The message that is linked from President Obama and the memorial photos side by side really stir your emotion,” said Supervisor Carroll. “We need to tread lightly on the subject of Jan. 8, but we need to remember Jan. 8 for the lessons it taught us. It’s bad to turn on others. It’s good to turn to each other.”
Marcotte was inspired to make the book when she noticed the numerous donations and memorials being set up throughout Tucson.
“Our hearts were opened in ways we couldn’t have imagined before,” Marcotte said. “When I first visited the memorials the day after the shooting, I was really struck by the thoughtfulness that was evident there. The boxes of Kleenex, the bottles of water, the little butane lighters so everyone could light their candles, and the abundance of food that local restaurants brought.”
Her decision to make the book was finalized when she stood in front of six clay pots that had been filled with pansies and placed on the lawn at University Medical Center to honor each of the six killed on Jan. 8.
In total, Marcotte has acquired 30 retail partners that will sell the book without keeping any percentage of the sale price.
According to Marcotte, $25,000 of in-kind contributions were made toward the book and the delivery of its message.
“You don’t get to a day like today without the generosity of a number of people,” said Marcotte.
For each book sold, $17 will be applied toward anti-bullying, mental health awareness, and civic engagement programs, coinciding with the goals of the Fund for Civility, Respect, and Understanding.
Giffords’ district director, Ron Barber, who was also shot on Jan. 8, came up with the idea for the fund while in his hospital room.
Partnering with the YWCA, Barber was also moved by Tucson’s widespread, spontaneous support after the tragedy.
Seeing an opportunity to thank the community for its response, Barber hopes to maintain that positive energy through various community outreach programs.
“What happened right after the shooting was a demonstration of the Tucson that we know and love,” said Barber. “Various members of the national media said they had never seen anything like this. They had never seen a community respond to a tragedy in the way our community did. For that, we have to be very proud.”