Curator’s Note

Above: A special COVID-19 message about the Flagstaff 2020 online exhibit from curator Marley Oakes.


My name is Marley Oakes. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University (NAU) studying History with a minor in Political Science. Along with attending school full-time, I am a student worker in Cline Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

In August of 2019, I stumbled upon the Flagstaff 2020 Records in SCA’s collection storage area. I read through the material in a few of the folders, learning for the first time about the original Flagstaff 2020 community visioning process. After a while, I began to have the same question many people involved with project have asked me: Did Flagstaff 2020 actually happen?

After discussing my findings with SCA staff, including Cindy Summers, Sam Meier, and Peter Runge, the idea for an online exhibit providing a retrospective view on Flagstaff 2020 was born.

Marley Oakes standing next to a snowman outside Flagstaff, Arizona.

Personally, my first memory of Flagstaff is from when I was around six years old. My family came to explore Lowell Observatory. As Phoenicians, we were all terribly unprepared for the cold and snow that was waiting for us. After a quick trip to the store for warm clothes and gloves, we settled at one of the small coffee shops downtown.

None of us could have imagined at the time that I would spend four of the most important years of my life in this small mountain town.

Right: Marley Oakes standing next to a snowman outside Flagstaff, Arizona. February 5, 2005. Photograph courtesy of Marley Oakes.

Through this online exhibit project, I have learned more about the history of Flagstaff than I have since I moved here in 2017 to begin my academic career at NAU.

Kathy Turner and Marley Oakes at Turner's home in Cornville, Arizona.

Working on the Flagstaff 2020 online exhibit has introduced me to many amazing community members who share my admiration of Flagstaff. To me, Flagstaff 2020: A Clear Vision not only offers the opportunity to analyze the recent history of Flagstaff, but also encourages past and present community members to reflect on how much the world has and has not changed in the past 24 years.

One aspect of the original Flagstaff 2020 process from the 1990s that I find extremely inspiring is the sense of energy and high degree of community involvement in a such a big project. I hope that current Flagstaffians will remember the importance of community input and outreach when addressing concerns for the city today.

Left: Kathy Turner and Marley Oakes at Turner’s home in Cornville, Arizona, following their oral history interview. March 8, 2020. Photograph courtesy of Marley Oakes.