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Great Writers Series: Mary Hunter Austin

The enchanting beauty and rich cultural history of the Southwest, where some of our properties are located, serves as a constant source of inspiration. As part of our new “Great Writers” series, we take immense joy in celebrating individuals whose contributions have cast a lasting glow on the Southwest, mirroring its radiant sunsets. Today, our spotlight is on Mary Hunter Austin, a writer whose connection to the land weaves through her work, reflecting the soul of the Southwest.

Monument Valley West. Photo: 45SURF Hero's Odyssey Mythology Photography
Monument Valley West. Photo: 45SURF Hero’s Odyssey Mythology Photography

Mary Hunter Austin, born in 1868, spent her life deeply immersed in the exploration and interpretation of the American Southwest’s landscapes. Her passion resonates strongly with us at Optima®, as we see our residents similarly captivated by the extraordinary vistas and cultural richness inherent to Optima Sonoran Village® and Optima Kierland Apartments® properties.

Sonoran Desert Landscape
Sonoran Desert Landscape. Photo: Bureau of Land Management Arizona

Austin’s acclaimed work, “The Land of Little Rain,” transcends conventional narratives, encapsulating the raw and compelling beauty of the Mojave Desert. In this collection of essays, Austin captured the intricacies of desert life — the flora, the fauna, and the Native American cultures — with a poet’s eye and a naturalist’s precision.

Optima Sonoran Village
Optima Sonoran Village
The Land of Little Rain
The Land of Little Rain

In addition to her descriptions of nature, Austin’s work reflected her strong sense of social justice, particularly related to Native American culture, women’s rights, and environmental conservation. In her writing, we see the Southwest not just as a backdrop, but as an active participant in the lives of the people who inhabit it. It is this vibrant, interconnected community that Austin so cherished, and that we are privileged to be a part of.

Delving deeper into Mary’s writings, we find a profound understanding and respect for the forces that shape the Southwest. Her observations were not passive; they formed the groundwork for a vibrant dialogue between humanity and the environment. Austin didn’t merely write about the Southwest — she engaged with it, championed it, and ultimately became one of its most influential advocates.

The Land of Journey's Ending
The Land of Journey’s Ending

At Optima®, we are inspired by Austin’s deep connection to the Southwest. Her detailed and vibrant narratives serve as a testament to the beauty of the region, reminding us of the power of truly getting to know a land and the importance of fostering a harmonious relationship with it. Through this shared love of these lands we find ourselves forever inspired, and captivated, deeply aware that we are not just creating buildings, but crafting experiences that resonate with the vibrant spirit of the American Southwest — a spirit so eloquently portrayed in Austin’s works.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Downtown Scottsdale

Home to Optima Camelview Village and Optima Sonoran Village, Downtown Scottsdale is a locus of access, spanning from arts, culture, shopping and nature. Here are just a few of our favorite spots:

Fashion Square

Nextdoor neighbor to Optima Sonoran Village, Fashion Square is an upscale, contemporary shopping hub. The Square features luxury shopping, dining and entertainment unmatched by anything else in Arizona. High-scale brands include Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Bottega Venetta, Saint Laurent and more. Scottsdale Fashion Square is also host to exclusive events and unparalleled guest amenities. The multi-level mall is the perfect place to while away the hours on a shopping spree, or even just window shopping. 

Arts and Culture

Scottsdale is home to a bustling arts scene, with an abundance of cultural institutions, museums and galleries calling the area their home. Scottsdale Arts welcomes residents and visitors to experience performing and visual arts from around the world, with programming that spans far beyond being just a theater or museum. Meanwhile, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a premier collection of modern works in art, design and architecture. Other specialized locales include the Scottsdale Historical Museum, complete with one-room schoolhouse, and the Fiesta Bowl Museum, dedicated entirely to college football memorabilia.

Dining, Drinking and More

Residents of our communities don’t have to look far to find a bite to eat. On-site at Optima Sonoran Village, Kaleidoscope Juice provides a boost with delicious organic juice and coffee drinks. And just a short walking distance away, the vibrant Downtown Scottsdale dining scene brings flavors to satiate any taste palette. 

The Great Outdoors

With Arizona set in such a gorgeous landscape, it’s only natural that there are bountiful parks and outdoor recreation areas to explore. Scottsdale offers immediate sweeping views of Camelback Mountain with Echo Canyon Trailhead just steps from Optima Sonoran Village, gorgeous greenery at Camelback Golf Course and the Phoenician Golf Course, and just down the road in bordering Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden provides a peek at desert vegetation. 

As we continue to expand in Arizona, we look forward to discovering more in our favorite places, and learning about new communities, too. Stay tuned for more neighborhood spotlights on our other Optima communities.

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