Writing a blog opens up an amazing world.

Birds take flight above palm trees in downtown San Diego.
Birds take flight above palm trees in downtown San Diego.

This is my 500th post. I can’t believe it.

When I started writing this blog on a lark about a year and a half ago, it was a puny little creation, and I hadn’t a clue where it would take me. Alas, after many hours pounding away at the old keyboard, I haven’t earned one thin dime. But that’s perfectly fine. The riches I’ve received are immaterial, and far greater.

Writing a blog–one that involves photography in particular–opens your eyes, enhances your appreciation of all that is around you. To chronicle a walk through this world, one must carefully experience each step and turn curious eyes everywhere. One must note light, depth, and the color of things. One must listen to others. If I hadn’t begun to meander about San Diego purposefully, searching for “cool” material, I might never have seen some hidden rainbows. Or a small bit of street art. Or dogs surf.

Writing a blog encourages creativity. It’s casual and conversational. There’s no need to fret too much about editing. Readers are just friends. So you can yap freely and let the mind flow. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. His great book Zen in the Art of Writing talks about the power of just letting thoughts flow, uninhibited, like gushing water from a wildly whipping dangerously uncontrolled hose. That water will irrigate one’s life, and the lives of others who are splashed.

Writing a blog leads the author to be more honest. More understanding. More compassionate. More vulnerable. Writing a blog, giving birth to a few silly words, expands the soul.

Thanks for coming along on my walks!

Where will I go today? I have a bit of an idea, but I’m not certain. Time propels us forward into the unknown. If you’d like, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr!

20 Ways To Help the Homeless in San Diego.

Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.
Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.

Living downtown, every day I see many people on the streets of San Diego who are homeless. When I take my “cool pics” I often consciously or unconsciously aim my camera lens away from less pleasant images. But the reality is, there are many urban neighbors who are in a desperate life situation. Whatever their story is, they need our help and compassion.

I’ve been walking throughout downtown for about 14 years now, and it has been a ritual of mine to reward street performers with a bit of money as I wander about. A fair number of these performers are homeless, or very needy. It just seems like a positive thing to do. When I talk a bit and get to know those who are homeless better, I realize that most are not so different than me, or anyone else. Life at times presents us all with extraordinary, seemingly impossible difficulties. A helping hand is appreciated.

If you’ve thought of providing a helping hand to the homeless, or those at risk for homelessness, here’s a list of organizations in San Diego that could use your assistance. Check each website for opportunities to volunteer or provide a donation. Forgive me if I’ve overlooked anyone. If you can think of additions to this list, leave a comment!

Person lies face down on grass in San Diego's Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone lies face down on the grass in Embarcadero Marina Park North.

Alpha Project provides the homeless with affordable housing, substance abuse treatment, basic and emergency services, transportation assistance, mental health counseling, employment training and placement, emergency shelter and more.

Urban Angels‘ mission is to nourish and provide food for the homeless of San Diego. They run the kitchen at Connections Housing, a new, state-of-the-art homeless facility.

San Diego Rescue Mission provides shelter, food, education, work training, rehabilitation and long-term care programs for the homeless.

StandUP for Kids provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County.

Veterans Village
provides homeless veterans with a safe place to live, care for Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, help in overcoming addiction, and employment assistance.

The Salvation Army serves the homeless, low income individuals, and those facing difficult life challenges. Volunteers serve the homeless downtown with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Father Joe’s Villages is the largest one-stop center in the region offering housing and services for the homeless. They help families with children, single women, and single men including chronically homeless individuals, veterans and people living with addiction and/or mental illness.

Make Change Count meters around downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.
Make Change Count meters in downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.

Purchase art created by homeless people in San Diego. The price you pay goes entirely to the homeless artist!

Monarch School‘s mission is to educate students impacted by homelessness and to help them develop hope for the future with the necessary skills and experiences for personal success.

San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County.

1st Saturdays are ordinary San Diegans who collect money, clothes, bedding, and other items that help those in need, to be distributed the first Saturday of every month.

Just Call Us Volunteers collaborates with other non-profits to serve free healthy meals in San Diego and teach cooking using fresh and nutritious ingredients.

Catholic Charities provides a safe, supportive, sober environment and opportunities for those with few or no resources to gather, begin, and continue self-help efforts.

PATH is a family of agencies working together to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities throughout Southern California.

Downtown San Diego Partnership is a leading partner towards the campaign to end homelessness in downtown San Diego.

Family Health Centers of San Diego is dedicated to providing healthcare services to medically underserved persons, including homeless children and adults.

YWCA has programs that support victims of domestic violence and homeless women in their journey from homelessness to stable housing.

United Way of San Diego County focuses on education, financial self-sufficiency, health and homeless prevention.

Regional Task Force on the Homeless conducts a physical count of the homeless in San Diego. They can always use more volunteers for the annual census. Information gathered during WeAllCount helps determine which services and programs can do the most good.

Wheels of Change provides employment for homeless people who are staying in shelters. Those who’d like to participate earn wages for work cleaning up communities–picking up trash, pulling weeds, etc. The program would appreciate your help.

Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman in a very difficult life situation.
Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman walking down the street. He was in a difficult life situation.

To follow Cool San Diego Sights, you can “like” my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Shedding the Cloak sculpture inspired by MLK.

Shedding the Cloak sculpture in San Diego.
Shedding the Cloak sculpture in San Diego.

A meaningful work of art stands in a small park among trees in downtown San Diego. The park includes a hedge maze and a few benches for sitting, and can be found at the west end of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade, a beautiful walkway that runs along Harbor Drive. At the center of the maze, a shining sculpture awaits like a revelation.

Shedding the Cloak is a work of public art that glows bright gold from within, both day and night. Created in 2001 by Jerry Dumlao, Mary Lynn Dominguez and Tamara Dumlao, the sculpture represents a turning point in a person’s view of others. MLK hoped that all people would shed the cloak of hatred and suspicion, and don the cloak of compassion.

The shady park is a quiet place to read a book, relax, or reflect upon life and human potential in a turbulent, often unthoughtful world. The golden radiance from within the sculpture shifts beneath swaying green branches as the sun arcs through the sky. A touch of gold is felt by any who pass by.

Artwork inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beautiful artwork inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rough exterior of fear and malice is peeled aside.
Rough exterior of fear and malice is peeled aside.
Trees through sculpture on Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade.
Trees and sky seen through sculpture on Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade.
Shining golden interior of cloak represents human compassion.
Shining golden interior of cloak represents human compassion.
Trolley passes behind Shedding the Cloak.
Trolley passes behind Shedding the Cloak.
This park honors an American hero who stood for human dignity.
Park honors an American hero who stood for human dignity.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.