I’ve lived half my life and never heard the word cotillion. So when I went to my first cotillion event this fall, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what to expect. And I was blown away by the experience.
The Phoenix Cotillion was formed more than 50 years ago to give young men and women the opportunity to learn philanthropy, to be exposed to the fundamentals of etiquette and to become better acquainted with their peers by attending annual social events. This focus remains today, but membership is open only to young women of high school age throughout the Valley, and nearly 500 of them are currently members.
Another mission of The Phoenix Cotillion is to support a charitable organization at each event. Valley Forward Association, the 40-year-old, business-based environmental public interest group that I’ve managed for nearly two decades, was the charity of choice for the recent Mother-Daughter Fashion Show.
So, I found myself on the rooftop of the Wyndham Phoenix Hotel one Sunday night amid hundreds of gorgeous girls and their moms, all dressed to the nines. They lined up to give me cash and checks to support Valley Forward’s mission of environmental stewardship. They also clearly demonstrated the theme of their event, “Teens Looking Good and Going Green.” A few young men were invited to escort the models during the fashion show and stood out among the mostly female crowd.
In celebrating Valley Forward’s milestone anniversary this year, our leadership is looking ahead at what the next 40 years might look like as we continue to advocate for more livable and sustainable communities.
It occurred to me as I looked at these bright young faces with eyes full of promise — each of them brimming with poise and confidence — that they hold the future in their delicate and capable hands. And for that I’m grateful and somewhat relieved, because these incredible young people already are doing so much to give back to the communities in which they live. They belong to environmental clubs in their schools. They volunteer to help clean up neighborhoods, plant trees and support green projects around the Valley and state.
Valley Forward’s historic agenda has embraced such issues as land use and open-space planning, desert preservation, transportation and air quality, water management, and most recently, energy.
While these issues remain prevalent, our burgeoning Valley cities struggle with ways to grow smarter and in harmony with the pristine, natural desert environment that is unique to Arizona.
As the green movement now sweeping the nation, and indeed the world, touches all business and industry sectors, the quest for a more sustainable future appears within reach. Maybe one day, it won’t be a movement — it will be the lifestyle of choice.
Today’s youth are certainly making it that way. And the next 40 years really belongs to them.
Diane Brossart is president of Valley Forward Association, which brings business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues, and to improve the livability and sustainability of Valley communities, www.valleyforward.org