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 blogĀ 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!

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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 onlineĀ 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?

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Help restore a beautiful Navy sailor memorial.

Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Volunteers and Boy Scouts work to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.

Your help is needed to help restore a beautiful U.S. Navy sailor memorial in San Diego. I’m speaking of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Some of the 66 oak trees planted to honor the victims of the USS Bennington boiler explosion in 1905 have themselves died. They need to be replaced.

The San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is working to restore and improve the historic oak grove with the help of hardworking Boy Scouts and locally-based U.S. Navy sailors. You can read more about these efforts here.

But money is needed. Donations are sought to purchase new trees. Please contact the San Diego DAR to learn how you can help honor and beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.
A dead oak tree that needs to be replaced.

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!

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

Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of another Boy Scout.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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!

A new deck for the beautiful HMS Surprise!

The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The HMS Surprise at the Maritime Museum of San Diego is getting a brand new deck! During my Sunday visit I noticed that replacement of the old deck is well underway!

Volunteers at the museum are applying the same methods and materials that were used so successfully to replace the deck of Star of India. I was told the main deck of HMS Surprise should be finished in about four months, and then the ship’s rigging will undergo an overhaul. Once all of that is complete, this beautiful replica of a 18th century Royal Navy 24-gun frigate should be ready to sail.

It’s hoped all the work will be complete in time for next year’s Festival of Sail!

As you might recall, this amazing ship co-starred with Russell Crowe in the acclaimed movie Master and Commander!

Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship's rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship’s rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob's ladder for the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob’s ladder. It will be used on the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
The ship's wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.
The enormous ship’s wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.

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!

Volunteers restore habitat in San Dieguito River Valley!

Hard-working volunteers remove non-native vegetation in a small part of the San Dieguito River Valley.
Hard-working volunteers remove invasive vegetation in a small area of the San Dieguito River Valley.

Today I happened upon a bunch of energetic volunteers working to restore habitat in the San Dieguito River Valley! They were removing non-native vegetation near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead!

Lots of invasive, rapidly growing wild mustard appeared to be the main problem. I also learned from a friendly San Dieguito River Park ranger that mustard is highly flammable, much more so than California coastal sage and chaparral plants that are native to our arid region.

Today’s work, coinciding with Family Volunteer Day, was an effort of several organizations, including the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Their mission is to implement the vision of the San Dieguito River Park, a greenway that stretches all the way from Volcan Mountain near Julian to Dog Beach in Del Mar! Their conservation and educational programs, along with their purchases of land in the River Park planning area, will ensure that the beautiful San Dieguito River Valley will be a rich and healthy natural treasure for many lifetimes to come!

Want to learn more? Or maybe get involved? Here’s their website!

This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!

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!

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

Scouts remove gum at Cabrillo National Monument!

Many generous Boy and Girl Scouts volunteered to beautify Cabrillo National Monument during Operation Gum Drop Removal!
Many generous Boy and Girl Scouts volunteered to beautify Cabrillo National Monument during Operation Gum Drop Removal!

I noticed during my visit to Cabrillo National Monument today that troops of Boy and Girl Scouts were busy around the park cleaning up chewing gum and other trash!

This very cool volunteering event was part of National Public Lands Day. It was also an opportunity for Scouts to earn special badges and enjoy a free lunch with park rangers!

Wow! Great job Scouts! Your positive outlook and dedication to community service has made San Diego even more beautiful! So here’s a big Thank You!

Scouts helping to remove gum and trash were awarded a Scout Ranger Patch, and enjoyed a complimentary lunch with Park Rangers!
Scouts helping to remove gum and trash were awarded a Scout Ranger Patch, and enjoyed a complimentary lunch with Park Rangers! How cool is that!
View of Cabrillo National Monument's Visitor Center from afar. I could see Scouts working hard throughout the park!
View of Cabrillo National Monument’s Visitor Center from afar. I could see Scouts working hard throughout the park!

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!