Heart and art on National Dog Day!

Today is National Dog Day!

What a perfect time open your heart and adopt a furry friend. Or provide a little help to your local animal shelter.

In San Diego, you might consider a visit to the San Diego Humane Society or Helen Woodward Animal Center. Adopt a rescue animal, donate or even volunteer. Click the above links!

In celebration of National Dog Day, please enjoy this collection of fun photographs.

I’ve captured all sorts of dog-themed art during my random walks around the city. Whenever I spot murals or street art featuring cute canines, my camera is on it!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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An amazing urban transformation in City Heights!

In November 2013 an incredible thing happened. Over a hundred volunteers from several neighborhoods in City Heights–Castle, Swan Canyon, Fairmount Village and Azalea Park–came together to transform a dangerous, trash-filled vacant lot into a beautiful community gathering place.

In a matter of only a few days, the Manzanita Gathering Place, which you can see in the following photographs, was born.

I was introduced to the Manzanita Gathering Place in the northeast corner of Azalea Park last weekend and was absolutely amazed. The tranquil, rustic, art-filled spot, overlooking Manzanita Canyon, made me feel as if I’d traveled faraway, to the top of a mountain crowned with ancient magic.

Four columns around a stone sitting area are covered with mosaics. About 1500 square feet of mosaic art! The columns represent the four elements: earth, air, water and fire. They also represent the hearts of the many hands that made them–community members from four adjoining urban neighborhoods.

I was told the Manzanita Gathering Place is the perfect place to watch a sunset. I did see the Ocean Discovery Institute across the canyon below. Students often walk from there into the canyon to learn about nature.

A collaboration of community organizers, government, artists, business owners, schools and diverse neighborhood residents, the Manzanita Gathering Place was a Pomegranate Project. According to the Pomegranate Center’s website, the organization helps “communities design and build art-filled gathering places. In sometimes as little as four months from first community meeting to completion of the gathering place, hundreds of volunteers would give thousands of hours planning, designing and building their park. Between 1990 and 2017, Pomegranate Center created some 60 such projects in multiple cities, states, and countries…”

The Manzanita Gathering Place design team consisted of Brennan Hubbell, Ilisa Goldman, Vicki Leon, and mentor Milenko Matanovic, founder of the Pomegranate Center. In 2015 this truly amazing project received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

A very beautiful nearby mural was painted in 2018 by San Diego artists Gloria Muriel and Alexander Banach…

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!

The extraordinary mosaics of Azalea Park!

Some of the most extraordinary public art in San Diego can be found in Azalea Park, a neighborhood at the south end of City Heights. Walk or drive along the streets of Azalea Park and you’ll discover unexpected mosaics decorating the sides of trashcans and round sidewalk benches.

When you stop to look closely at these mosaics, it becomes evident that a great deal of effort, thought and artistry was involved in their making. The beautiful designs are truly stunning. Look at the coming photographs and see for yourself.

I was surprised to learn that all of these fantastic mosaics were created by a volunteer group of Azalea Park residents! The team of community beautifiers call themselves the Azalea Park Mosaic League!

Led by local artist Vicki Leon, members of the Azalea Park Mosaic League continue to make their neighborhood a more attractive and welcoming place.

A couple days ago I posted photos of their Art’s Popping Up mosaic sculpture on Poplar Street. If you haven’t seen that yet, click here!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Vicki Leon’s art studio in Azalea Park. The following two photographs show beautiful lotus mosaics that will be installed in Little Saigon, and how she is helping friends and neighbors to create their own mosaic street address signs! Check our her website here.

Her work, and the volunteer efforts of the Azalea Park Mosaic League, can inspire us all to make our own neighborhoods more beautiful!

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!

End hunger with the SD Fridge Project!

Here’s an idea to consider if you’d like to help neighbors who could use a little food assistance.

While out on a recent walk, I spotted a refrigerator and some shelves in front of the Normal Heights United Methodist Church. A sign on the fridge stated FREE FOOD. I had to check it out.

Members of the church are participating in the SD Fridge Project, and the canned food and fresh vegetables near the church entrance are free for the taking. If anyone in the community is in a difficult place and could use some food, they are more than welcome to help themselves.

I read the info on a sheet taped to the refrigerator and learned more about the SD Fridge Project (@sdfridgeprojects). I took a photo so you can read it and perhaps become involved, too!

You can find the enlarged email address in an upcoming photograph, if you’d like to participate!

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!

San Diego hero beautifies our city.

An unselfish, unsung hero in San Diego has dedicated countless hours of hard work to making our city more beautiful.

I’m speaking of Joseph Ciavarella. For five years he spearheaded the improvement and beautification of Tweet Street Park, a neighborhood park atop Cortez Hill.

During my walks over the years I often saw Joe in the park spreading mulch, pruning, cleaning up debris, and planting flowers and other greenery. I would express my appreciation, and he was always modest.

Joseph Ciavarella’s quiet optimism, his effective community organizing and relentless hard work, along with the important contributions of Friends of Tweet Street volunteers and San Diego Parks and Recreation, have turned the Tweet Street linear park into the amazing lush garden that it is today.

Joe moved away from Cortez Hill not long ago. His last day at Tweet Street was Arbor Day. I noticed today that the Downtown San Diego Partnership planted a tree in his honor.

That tree will grow and become ever more beautiful over time, bringing a little joy to the lives of so many people.

That’s was Joe did.

Check out the “Friends of Tweet Street Park” Facebook page here.

Donate to the Friends of Tweet Street via a new web page provided by the Downtown San Diego Partnership here.

Thank you.

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!

Chicano Federation and San Diego Loyal paint mural!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

Last Wednesday, international soccer superstar Landon Donovan and the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club participated in very cool project at the Delta Apartments in Shelltown. A colorful mural was painted in celebration of Cesar Chavez Day!

Volunteers came together to paint this community mural, which was designed by artist Yessenia Hulsey. The artwork depicts children having fun playing soccer. The mural adds life, beauty and inspiration to this affordable housing complex operated by the Chicano Federation.

I couldn’t be present that day, but photographs of the event were sent my way!

The Chicano Federation manages nine apartment complexes in San Diego, providing affordable housing for families, seniors and people with disabilities. They also offer child development and nutrition programs, and a Women’s Small Business Development Program. To learn more about their important work, click here!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.
Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

This is how the completed mural would appear!

Photo courtesy of SVPR Communications.

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!

Students honored on the Walls of Excellence.

It was raining when I walked up to the Walls of Excellence in Lincoln Park today. Moments after I lifted my camera, as if by magic, the sun came out, shining upon the names of students who have achieved a great honor in this southeast San Diego community.

Every year, since 2000, three seniors from each of four school are selected for inclusion in the Walls of Excellence. These students, from Gompers Preparatory Academy, Lincoln High School, Morse High School and the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, are honored with their own engraved glass panel. Those who are selected have excelled both in their studies and in community service.

Along one side of the walls are quotes concerning wisdom. Above the walls rises a beautiful monument like a long finger. When the sun comes out, that sky-pointing finger turns golden.

The Walls of Excellence is located on Imperial Avenue at Willie James Jones Avenue.

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!

Chalk art supports Rady Children’s Hospital.

Look at the beautiful chalk art that I spotted this morning! It was created a day or two ago on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp by local artist Cecelia Linayao, whose work you’ve seen in many posts on my blog.

I learned upon reading words at my feet that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and that the artwork’s purpose is to support Rady Children’s Hospital. Rady is where children throughout San Diego go to be treated by world-class doctors with the most advanced medicine.

If you are inspired by the story of two young brothers told by this chalk art, then please visit the Rady Children’s Hospital donation page by clicking here. You can also volunteer!

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!

Neighbor releases butterflies in San Diego park!

A neighbor in San Diego’s Cortez Hill community has released butterflies in a city park. She accomplished this with a paintbrush and stencils!

Take a look!

I learned from Joe Ciavarella of Friends of Tweet Street Park that the beautiful butterflies–and birds, flowers and dragonflies–you see in my photos were painted on planters and stones recently by Victoria Villavicencio, who periodically visits Cortez Hill.

Tweet Street Linear Park at the top of Cortez Hill becomes ever more inviting over time, thanks not only to the friendly workers of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department, but to unselfish community volunteers who devotedly plant, tend and clean the garden-like park.

From one who lives a few steps away: Thank You!

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!

Girl Scout’s inspiring community mural project!

Mural painted in City Heights inspires those who see it to register to vote.
Mural painted in City Heights inspires those who see it to register to vote.

Check out this great new mural in City Heights!

The mural was painted this weekend to inspire members of the community to vote in this year’s election. It’s the Girl Scout “Gold Award” project of Lauren Crane!

She and a team of volunteers have painted a portion of a wall at Mid City Wash on University Avenue with a cool red, white and blue design that asks: Are you registered to vote? A nearby table, presided over by a couple of other friendly Girl Scouts, provided voter registration information for anyone who might pass by on the sidewalk.

I met Lauren today, as well as the folks of the organization Love City Heights, who’ve helped to make this awesome project a reality. Painting such a public mural requires the approval, resources and coordination of many people, and earning a Gold Award is all about leadership . . . and using that leadership to actually make the world a better place.

Not only does this project provide great experience for an up-and-coming leader, but it provides inspiration to all of those who are associated with it, and encourages those who happen to see the mural to become more involved in their community, too!

Is this awesome, or what?

Girl Scout Lauren Crane is responsible for this Gold Award mural project.
Girl Scout Lauren Crane is responsible for this Gold Award mural project.

Community volunteers pitch in to help paint the inspiring mural.
Community volunteers pitch in to help paint the inspiring mural.

Here are some of the people who have volunteered and made a real difference.
Here are some of the people who have volunteered and made a real difference.

A Guide to Voting in California pamphlets on a nearby table.
A Guide to Voting in California pamphlets on a nearby table.

An important community project brought to life by a Girl Scout, working to make the world a better place.
An important community project brought to life by a Girl Scout, working to make the world a better place.

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!