East Village’s SMARTS Farm, a cool urban garden!

A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown's SMARTS farm.
A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown’s SMARTS Farm.

This morning I headed out for a short walk along F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village, with the intention of photographing some awesome murals and street art. As I was strolling along, my feet carried me into a super cool place I really hadn’t noticed before.

SMARTS Farm is an urban garden run by the nonprofit organization Humane Smarts. In addition to being a community garden, SMARTS Farm offers educational programs aimed at local kids. Children plant their own produce, watch it grow and learn about our environment. Photography classes are also offered!

How appropriate that I randomly discovered this cool place on Earth Day!

Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
SMARTS farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego.
SMARTS Farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.

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Padres Opening Day Block Party in East Village.

Funny pig at Padres Opening Day Block Party.
Funny pig at Padres Opening Day Block Party.

I enjoyed a stroll through East Village this morning. It was my opportunity to take a few pics of the Padres Opening Day Block Party just north of Petco Park.

Dozens of tents and booths were lined up on either side of J Street. Kettle corn, barbeque on the grill, baseball souvenirs, assorted nonprofits and salespeople and radio shows…all the usual suspects were there. And, of course, baseball fans!

Baseball fans in East Village by Petco Park.
Baseball’s Opening Day celebrated in East Village by Petco Park.
Padres fan tests his pitching arm.
San Diego Padres fan tests his pitching arm.
Dodgers fans might require a security blanket.
Dodgers fans might require a security blanket.
People relax and enjoy live music on Padres Opening Day.
People relax and enjoy live music on Padres Opening Day.

Workers at Petco Park prepare for Opening Day.

Two workers put up large Padres banner at Petco Park.
Two workers put up large Padres banner at Petco Park.

A variety of workers were out on Sunday afternoon preparing Petco Park for Padres opening day, which is less than two weeks away. I got a few pics of the action…

Getting the outfield ready for Opening Day.
Getting the outfield ready for baseball’s Opening Day.
Watering lush new grass at the Park At The Park.
Watering lush new grass at the Park At The Park.
Still no graphics on the back side of the scoreboard.
Still no graphics on the back side of the scoreboard.
Brand new street lamp banners announce the 2014 season.
Brand new street lamp banners announce the 2014 season.

Early morning light touches East Village.

Morning look toward East Village buildings from trolley station.
Morning look toward East Village buildings from trolley station.

These photos were taken a few weeks ago in the early morning.  I was on the way to work and feeling energized, so I walked about the 12th and Imperial trolley station to enjoy the views.

Buildings near Petco Park touched by early morning light.
Buildings near Petco Park touched by early morning light.
San Diego Central Library dome gilded by rising sun.
San Diego Central Library dome gilded by rising sun.
Early morning in San Diego.
Early morning in San Diego.

Twelve-person bicycle heads down street.

twelve-person bicycle heads down street

What could be more cool than biking along a city street with a dozen of your buddies? These folks are sitting around a table enjoying drinks and conversation while pedaling away and taking in the sights. This twelve-person bicycle might not be suitable for your typical family, but lots of tourists and fun-seekers enjoy it!

I spotted two of these cool contraptions in East Village!
I spotted two of these cool contraptions in East Village!

A look inside new San Diego Central Library!

Front desk and spacious entrance of new downtown San Diego Central Library.
Front desk and spacious entrance of new downtown San Diego Central Library.

Here are some interior pics of San Diego’s brand new downtown public library! It’s been open for only one week!

The first photo is what you’ll likely see upon entering the new building. It’s the front desk and lobby area, containing escalators, a view of three floors, helpful librarians and lots of library patrons!

a look inside the new san diego central library shop

The beautiful library shop is just steps from the main entrance. It’s full of great library-related gifts!

votes for women exhibit at san diego central library

As I meandered about the first floor, I discovered this historical exhibit in the middle of rows of bookshelves. It explains how women, after a hard fight, earned the right to vote in California in 1911.

the cat in the hat on san diego central library wall

On the first floor you’ll find the children’s section of the library. The walls are painted with characters and scenes taken from Dr. Seuss’s popular picture books. Check out the Cat in the Hat! As many San Diego residents know, Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodor Geisel, and he was a resident of La Jolla just up the coast.

reading room of san diego central library offers city views

Check out the reading room on the eighth floor of the new Central Library! It’s roomy, filled with light and lots of comfy chairs. The immense view toward South Bay is awesome!

looking upward in reading room of san diego central library

Here we’re looking upward toward the ceiling of the big reading room. That’s the interior of the Central Library’s iconic steel lattice dome!

display of baseball history in san diego central library

There’s a cool baseball history archive and exhibit right next to the reading room. Check out the silvery statue of a baseball player, and all the nostalgic photos on the wall! The exhibit is made possible by the San Diego Ted Williams chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.

A couple more pics I took during a later visit…

Outside view of upper dome structure and nearby building from 9th floor of San Diego downtown library.
Outside view of upper dome structure and nearby building from 9th floor of San Diego downtown library.
Library patron in reading room creates cool graffiti art with the aid of research materials.
Library patron in reading room creates cool graffiti art with the aid of research materials.

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Jerry Coleman memorial statue at Petco Park.

jerry coleman statue at petco park

Another very well-liked person in San Diego is Padres radio announcer Jerry Coleman. His accomplishments have been so impressive, he’s got a statue and memorial at Petco Park, just inside the east entrance to the Park at the Park.

I remembering listening to Jerry when I was a kid. At the time he did the Padres radio play-by-play, and was teamed with Dave Campbell who provided color commentary. Today, at the lively age of 89, he takes part in the broadcast during day games.

Jerry, also known as “The Colonel”, was named major league baseball Rookie of the Year in 1949 as Yankees second baseman. In 1950 his defensive plays made him most valuable player in the World Series.

As a Marine aviator, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman interrupted his baseball career to serve in the Korean War. He flew 120 combat missions and received two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He also flew during World War II, making him the only major league baseball player to serve in two wars.

Jerry, famous for his enthusiastic phrases “Oh, Doctor!” and “You can hang a star on that baby!” was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.

The face of a true American hero.
The face of a true American hero.

Statue of Padres batting champ Tony Gwynn.

statue of padres superstar tony gwynn

A good argument can be made that the most-liked person in San Diego is Tony Gwynn. He’s one of the friendliest, most good-natured guys you’ll ever find, not to mention one of the best hitters ever in the history of baseball. He was voted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. He’s also got a great statue in East Village at the center of Petco’s Park at the Park. You’re looking at it!

Tony Gwynn, affectionately called Mr. Padre, played 20 years for the San Diego Padres, winning eight batting titles and five Gold Glove awards. He appeared in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game 15 times! Today he’s the head baseball coach for San Diego State University.

Tony Gwynn statue with Showley Bros. Candy Factory in background.
Tony Gwynn statue with Showley Bros. Candy Factory in background.
Inspirational words of Tony Gwynn's father.
Inspirational words of Tony Gwynn’s father.

A quote from Tony’s father Charles appears on the statue’s base:  “If you work hard good things will happen.”  These words inspired one of the greatest hitters in the history of professional baseball.

UPDATE…

Here are a few closer photos that I took years later, after the tragic passing of Tony.

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Kids enjoy tiny ball field at Petco Park.

small kids baseball field at petco park

Downtown residents and visitors to East Village have access to a great public resource. Green grass, shady trees, a large playground, and views of the city can all be freely enjoyed (when the San Diego Padres aren’t playing a home game) at the Park at the Park!

Situated beyond Petco Park’s outfield, surrounded by sleek city buildings, this public park has a small ball field which is perfectly sized for children. In this pic, taken near the end of the baseball season (the Padres were in San Francisco), a family is seen walking across the diamond. Those patches of bare dirt testify to the popularity of the park during the summer and long baseball season.

Here’s a pic taken on 2/8/14 during Padres FanFest…

Kids enjoy small baseball field during Padres Fanfest.
Kids enjoy small baseball field during Padres FanFest.

Here’s a pic taken on 7/6/14 during a Sunday afternoon Padres game. This year Bumble Bee (the tuna company) is sponsoring the kids baseball field, with promotional signs on the outfield fence.  A new food concession stand has been added just beyond right field…

Folks watch a game at the kids ball field in Park at the Park.
Folks watch a game at the kids baseball field in Park at the Park.

And finally a pic taken when no one was around…

Scoreboard beyond outfield of tiny baseball diamond sponsored by Bumble Bee.
Scoreboard beyond outfield of tiny baseball diamond sponsored by Bumble Bee.

Photos of San Diego Entrepreneur Day.

san diegans at entrepreneur day

I was walking downtown through East Village yesterday when I happened to stumble upon San Diego Entrepreneur Day.

According to their website, the annual event is a celebration meant to assist creative people, including students. Entrepreneur Day helps those who’d like to take their unique business concepts to reality. The event presents many potential collaboration and partnership opportunities.

Large and small businesses had set up displays along the street, and people were checking them out. Lots of cool swag was being given away. Several food trucks were part of the action, but I already had lunch waiting at home.

dancing at san diego entrepreneur day

The second pic shows some energetic dancers having a great time performing on a stage. I’m inspired!