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“Together We Thrive” launched as fundraiser for The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding and YWCA Tucson

Janet Marcotte, left, photographer, signs copy of "Together We Thrive" for Julie Glaser Ray. (Sheila Wilensky)

The angst of the tragic shootings on Jan.8 that killed six people and wounded 13 others, and the  heartfelt responses of Tucsonans,were both present at the book launch of “Together We Thrive” at the YWCA Tucson on Nov. 30. The new book pairs the words of President Barack Obama from his Tucson speech on Jan. 12 with 50 pages of photographs taken at three memorials by Janet Marcotte, executive director of the YWCA.

One of the first photos Marcotte took was of six pots of pansies at the memorial that sprang up at the University Medical Center, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lay gravely wounded after being shot in the head and began her long recovery. The project evolved simply “as a gift for Gabby because I knew she wouldn’t see the memorial,” said Marcotte.

“’Together We Thrive’ honors all those killed and injured on Jan. 8 but celebrates how we came together as a community,” she said. “Our hearts opened in ways we couldn’t have imagined before.”

The book sells for $20, and all of the sales revenue will be divided equally between The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding and the YWCA. The fund includes an anti-bullying program in local school districts and a project to reduce the stigma of mental illness and increase public awareness of symptoms and local treatment services. The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding was created by Ron Barber, Giffords’ district director, who was shot twice while standing next to the congresswoman at the Safeway on Jan. 8. Barber and his family came up with the idea for the fund while he was still in the intensive care unit at UMC.

“Had the young man who shot us gotten care, maybe it would have made a difference, we don’t know,” said Barber.

However, “it’s what’s happened in Tucson since Jan. 8 that really demonstrates the Tucson we know and love,” said Barber, who added that “anchors from various television networks [from around the country] said they’ve never seen such a community response to a tragedy or national disaster before.”

Pima County District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll, one of the four speakers at the book launch, told the audience that he took a pledge of civility shortly after Jan. 8.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who also spoke, affirmed that he’ll be “an activist mayor in supporting civility.”

“I just went through a campaign,” he told the AJP, “and it’s so important to teach campaign operatives that there need to be rules.”

Tucson has always been a community “where we’ve been tolerant and respectful of each other,” Rothschild said, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual preferences. “We’re not going to let this tragedy rip the heart out of this community. But the event is seared in our memory.”

“Together We Thrive” is available at 30 retail outlets in Tucson or may be purchased online at ywcatucson.org.