Art in Bloom at Japanese Friendship Garden.

You might have noticed I personally love the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. The garden always refreshes my mind and sparks my creativity. It’s one of my favorite spots to write short stories. (I hope to have a new one finished soon!)

When I learned a new cultural exhibition would open today in the garden’s handsome Inamori Pavilion, I knew at once that I had to check it out. The exhibition is called Art in Bloom – Floral Art of Japan.

The diverse pieces of artwork on display feature exquisite flower designs. By reading several signs in the exhibit, I learned about the symbolism of certain flowers in Japan. For example, I learned the camelia represents spring.

After feasting my eyes on the Art in Bloom exhibit, I walked up a winding path through the Lower Garden and carefully searched the grove of Japanese cherry trees for spring blossoms. None yet! One of the knowledgeable master gardeners informed me we have several weeks to go!

(Don’t forget to attend the certain-to-be-amazing 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival. This year it will be held on March 9 through March 11.)

Here’s a pic taken outside the Inamori Pavilion, followed by photos of a few works of the floral art inside…

Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.
Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A fun Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park!

A demonstration of martial arts by members of the San Diego Wushu Center during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.
A demonstration of martial arts by members of the San Diego Wushu Center during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.

Today I experienced two fantastic cultural events in Balboa Park. The first was the Chinese New Year Festival hosted by the House of China at the International Cottages.

2018 is the Year of the Dog, and a huge crowd turned out to enjoy Chinese food, entertainment and a whole lot of good fun. I stayed for a while and watched talented performers dance, demonstrate Kung fu, and fling bright Yo-Yos into the sunny San Diego sky to the delight of all! It was great!

The 2018 Chinese New Year Festival continues Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm. You really should go!

Just in case you can’t make it, I took some colorful photos…

Tents in the lawn area of the International Cottages featured food, unique crafts and many fascinating aspects of Chinese culture.
Tents in the lawn area of the International Cottages feature food, unique crafts and many fascinating aspects of Chinese culture.
Cheerful artwork and entertainment were plentiful at the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival, hosted by the House of China in Balboa Park.
Cheerful artwork and entertainment are plentiful at the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival, hosted by the House of China in Balboa Park.
Young students working with the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University dance during the program.
Young students working with the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University dance during the program.
Some traditional Chinese food being served included egg rolls, dumplings and bao--steamed buns with several different tasty fillings.
Some traditional Chinese food being served included egg rolls, dumplings and bao–steamed buns with several different tasty fillings.
I spotted one table with clever cards that open to colorful pop-up bouquets.
I spotted one table with clever cards that open to colorful pop-up bouquets.
Anyone could check the year of their birth against this Chinese horoscope. 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
Anyone could check the year of their birth against this Chinese horoscope. 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
These cool kids of the Riverview International Academy Yo-Yo Team wowed the crowd with their amazing skill.
These cool kids of the Riverview International Academy Yo-Yo Team wowed the crowd with their amazing skill.
I discovered a fascinating book about the history of the Chinese in San Diego. It's title is In Search of Gold Mountain.
I discovered a fascinating book about the history of the Chinese in San Diego. It’s title is In Search of Gold Mountain.
Some beautiful Chinese brush art and ink drawings were being displayed by friendly local artists.
Some beautiful Chinese brush art and ink drawings were being displayed by friendly local artists.
Energetic martial artists demonstrated various forms of Kung fu. Many routines seemed like precise athletic dances.
Energetic martial artists demonstrated various forms of Kung fu. Many routines seemed like precise athletic dances.
A graceful performance by members of the UCSD Chinese Dance Association.
A graceful performance by members of the UCSD Chinese Dance Association.
Many smiles and delightful surprises awaited visitors to Balboa Park during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival.
Many smiles and delightful surprises await visitors to Balboa Park during the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Getting the Starlight Bowl ready for action!

Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!
Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!

I was pleasantly surprised during my walk through Balboa Park today to see progress is being made in renovating the Starlight Bowl!

A couple of super cool guys from Save Starlight were installing an interactive kiosk at the outdoor amphitheater’s entrance. I learned that some events for the outdoor venue are already planned for early this year! How awesome is that?

If you are like me, you might have watched musicals performed in the Starlight Bowl under twinkling stars, before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt in 2011. My memories from years ago are still vivid in my mind’s eye. I remember laughing as a young man at the humor of Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance.

I’ve blogged about the effort to save the Starlight Bowl on several occasions, and took a couple of photographs after a new paint job and clean up early last year. I posted those photos on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog here.

If you want to learn more about the Starlight Bowl’s history, challenges, rehabilitation and eventual reopening, visit this website. You can make a donation to help with the effort, or perhaps volunteer!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl–now the Starlight Bowl–during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. (This no known copyright restrictions image is from Flickr.)
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Butterfly Project teaches students about Holocaust.

Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.
Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.

Today I discovered an inspired project that helps school students learn about the Holocaust, and how to fight injustice and bullying.

The Butterfly Project had a special event this afternoon at the San Diego History Center. By pure chance I saw a sign for the event as I walked through Balboa Park.

Inside the San Diego History Center, I watched as compassionate visitors painted ceramic butterflies–one for each child who perished in the Holocaust.

Then I heard presentations by two speakers who had family members endure the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. These powerful presentations, complete with photographs and touchable artifacts, are often made to students in school classrooms. The presentations encourage Hope, Optimism, Kindness, Dignity and the Power of One. I learned how there were amazing instances where the courage of one person against brutal Nazis saved many innocent lives in labor and concentration camps.

One person can speak out. One person can take risks for others. One positive person can change many lives.

That one positive person can be you. Please visit The Butterfly Project website.

According to their mission statement, The Butterfly Project is a call to action through the arts, using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate about the dangers of hatred and bigotry through the painting of ceramic butterflies, permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The Butterfly Project seeks to partner with anyone that has or wants to build a connection to history, honoring those who died in the Holocaust. They want to get their beautiful, symbolic butterflies into schools, museums and community centers. They want to be included in classrooms across the country as an important part of Holocaust and anti-bullying education.

Can you help? Click this link to learn how to get involved.

Will you be that one person who steps forward?

An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations made to students bring terrible realities to light, and encourage positive action.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations to students make the Holocaust real, and encourage positive, compassionate action.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

8 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking in San Diego.

Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.
Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.

Today I walked up to Balboa Park to experience the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally. The event was organized by the Junior League of San Diego, and brought together most of the key players in San Diego’s fight against human trafficking.

While legislative progress has been made in the fight, the terrible problem of human trafficking persists. I learned San Diego sees far too much of this type of crime because of our city’s proximity to the Mexican border and its status as a popular tourist destination.

Many tables were set up at the event containing literature about how concerned citizens can take action. Everyone was encouraged to spread the word and increase awareness and involvement throughout the community.

I thought my blog could possibly provide a bit of help. Here are eight things that you can do to learn about and fight against human trafficking in San Diego:

1. Learn how to recognize victims of human trafficking. The following three photos contain vital information that you can use and share.

A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
Information from Homeland Security's Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
Information from Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

2. Support the Alabaster Jar Project. This organization empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They provide a safe living environment and transitional housing, plus an array of support services and educational opportunities. Located in San Diego’s North County.

3. Become involved with CAT, or Churches Against Trafficking, a network of churches in San Diego that together provide service, resources and prayer to help solve a difficult problem in our community.

Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.
Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that have joined together to provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.

4. Support the Lynch Foundation For Children. They are working to prevent human trafficking through education. They also assist in locating and recovering runaway children, and support victims’ services.

5. Learn about and possibly volunteer with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC), an alliance of government and nonprofit agencies in the United States and Latin America convened along the U.S.-Mexico Border Region to combat slavery and human trafficking. Their 24-hour Emergency Trafficking Hotline is 619-666-2757. The hotline serves victims of trafficking, community clinics and doctors, social service agencies, concerned citizens and law enforcement personnel.

6. Visit the Sex Trafficking Resource Center page of the San Diego Public Library website and learn more facts about this difficult but very important subject. The web page includes a variety of resources, including helpful links specifically for youth.

7. Visit the San Diego District Attorney’s human trafficking online page. It’s a resource that contains a good deal of vital information, including Signs of Human Trafficking, What You Can Do, Community Resources and Safety Tips.

The FBI had literature available concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
During the event, the FBI offered literature concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
Can you see her? It's time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.
Can you see her? It’s time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.

8. Check out these other local shelters and organizations. They need mentors, volunteers and resources:

Children of the Immaculate Heart

Generate Hope

Mary’s Guest House

North County Lifeline

PLNU Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund

Shining Stars

Salvation Army’s Door of Hope

San Diego Youth Services

These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?
These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Smiles and culture at San Diego Multicultural Festival!

Members of the Imahen Taotao Tano-Micronesia Dance Group provide entertainment at the 2018 San Diego Multicultural Festival.
Members of the Imahen Taotao Tano-Micronesia Dance Group provide entertainment at the 2018 San Diego Multicultural Festival.

Late this afternoon I ventured down to Ruocco Park to get a taste of the 20th Annual San Diego Multi-Cultural Festival.

Every year the fun, family-oriented event showcases diverse cultures from around the world, and how they uniquely contribute to life in our city.

Many organizations were present that work to improve the community, plus all sort of vendors and great entertainment. Please read the photo captions to learn more about a few of the festival participants! You might feel inspired!

The 2017 Multicultural Festival in Ruocco Park had many diverse activities and interesting things for visitors to experience.
The 2017 Multicultural Festival in Ruocco Park had many diverse activities and interesting things for visitors to experience.
Some of the vendors had colorful artwork for sale.
Some of the vendors had colorful artwork for sale.
Entertainment on the main stage included the Micronesia dance group, Taico Japanese Drums and Soaring Eagles Native American Pow Wow.
Entertainment on the main stage included the Micronesia dance group, Taico Japanese Drums and Soaring Eagles Native American Pow Wow.
These nice ladies with EF Education First are looking for families to host of international students. Interested?
These nice ladies with EF Education First are looking for local families to host international students. Interested?
The San Diego International Sister Cities Association had a a couple of cool displays showing our 16 sister cities around the world.
The San Diego International Sister Cities Association had a couple of cool displays showing our 16 sister cities around the world. Participant cities often engage in cultural exchanges, including sporting events.
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Balboa Park had something super fun at the festival. Kamizumo!
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Balboa Park had something super fun at the festival. Kamizumo!
Kamizumo--paper wrestler--is a Japanese game in which folded paper sumo wrestlers are placed in an arena and controlled by vibrating the platform with finger taps.
Kamizumo–paper wrestler–is a Japanese game in which folded paper sumo wrestlers are placed in an arena and controlled by vibrating the platform with finger taps. (Click this image and the next to enlarge for easy reading.)
If you make these moves you lose: You accidentally step out of the ring while pushing your opponent! If you fall over! If you step backward out of the ring!
If you make these moves you lose: You accidentally step out of the ring while pushing your opponent! You fall over! You step backward out of the ring!
Another exciting kamizumo match is ready to begin!
Another exciting kamizumo match is almost ready to begin!
Cool guys with the Pazzaz Educational Enrichment Center had some Soap Box Derby gravity cars on display. Kids from the community are encouraged to participate in local races!
Cool guys with the Pazzaz Educational Enrichment Center had some Soap Box Derby gravity cars on display. Kids from the community are encouraged to participate in local races! I blogged about one such race in Sherman Heights a couple years ago!
A friendly face painter! I captured this same enormous smile a year or two ago!
A friendly face painter! Some things never change! I captured this same enormous smile a year or two ago!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

History and some memories in Civic Center Plaza.

Looking east past the Bow Wave fountain in San Diego Civic Center Plaza. The skyscrapers you see are in the heart of downtown's Financial District.
Looking east past the Bow Wave fountain in San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza. The skyscrapers you see are in the heart of downtown’s Financial District.

When I walk through downtown San Diego, sometimes I’ll pass through Civic Center Plaza to see if anything new or interesting is going on at the San Diego Civic Theater, or at Golden Hall in the San Diego Community Concourse.

I personally have a fond memory of Golden Hall. It’s where I attended my first San Diego Comic-Con with a school friend who happened to be a huge comic book fan. I believe that was in 1982, because I remember the artist Mike Grell was there, and penciled a free detailed sketch of his creation the Warlord for my friend. Back then the initial Superman and Star Wars movies were huge sensations. Yes, that was many, many years ago!

Civic Center Plaza today contains several cool sights. So far my blog hasn’t included images of the Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton plaque and the impressive Official City of San Diego Seal in the passage under the City Administration Building. So here they are!

(You might recall that in the past I’ve posted photos of the Bow Wave fountain, the terrazzo image in the plaza of Cabrillo’s galleon sailing into San Diego Bay, and the Sister City signs. Not to mention photos of other incidental stuff encountered during walks.)

Walking west into Civic Center Plaza from Third Avenue. Golden Hall is directly ahead.
Walking west into Civic Center Plaza from Third Avenue. Golden Hall is directly ahead.
Lots of people are excited that the smash hit Hamilton is playing right now at the San Diego Civic Theater.
Lots of people are excited that the smash hit Hamilton is playing right now at the San Diego Civic Theater.
Cool photo of Bow Wave, created by artist Malcolm Leland in 1972.
Cool photo of Bow Wave, created by artist Malcolm Leland in 1972.
A few people stroll through Civic Center Plaza. Windows in the old (and many say outdated) City Administration Building rise over a passage to C Street.
A few people stroll through Civic Center Plaza. Windows in the old (and many say outdated) City Administration Building rise over a passage to C Street.
Charles C. Dail Concourse conceived by citizens of vision. This community concourse is dedicated by the people of San Diego as a tribute to culture, industry and good government. 1965
Charles C. Dail Concourse conceived by citizens of vision. This Community Concourse is dedicated by the people of San Diego as a tribute to culture, industry and good government, 1965.
Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton, 1813-1909. Founder of the new city of San Diego 1867. Placed by the San Diego Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in the Bicentennial year 1976.
Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton, 1813-1909, founder of the new city of San Diego, 1867. Placed by the San Diego Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in the Bicentennial year 1976.
People walk toward the San Diego City Information Center past a large terrazzo Official City of San Diego Seal.
People walk toward the San Diego City Information Center past a large terrazzo City of San Diego Seal.
Detail contained in the Official City of San Diego Seal.
Detail contained in the official City of San Diego Seal.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!