Walkers described this walk as urban sprawl and close integration of large rural lots and apartment complexes. There were established neighborhoods, mature landscaping with large trees. Some houses were set way back on large lots with front yard gardens and small grove of fruit trees. Few sidewalks bordered the streets of the neighborhoods, so Walkers thought this might be a county island instead of part of the City of Fresno. Walkers found these well-established neighborhoods interesting and full of variety. No two houses were the same, and each was drastically different from the next. Other blocks had apartments, advertising 1 and 2 bedrooms with laundry hookups.
Walkers encountered Trolley Park behind the Walmart at Kings Canyon and Peach. This was such a pleasant surprise, since not one Walker had heard of this park before. It was at the edge of a flood control area. The park had a colorful and safe playground, a full size train car, a replica of downtown Fresno’s water tower and the Meux Home, covered picnic party areas, shade trees, benches, and a walking bridge. A family had party decorations up, and they were grilling chicken for the birthday party of their son who attends Kings Canyon Middle School.
One sight that stood out to Walkers was a tree at the edge of a large lot. This tree was cut back to just the trunk and the major branches, with no leaves, and surprisingly, each branch held a tea pot at the end. One Walker labeled this the Pottery Tree or Pot Tea Tree – playing on the words tea pot tree, pot tree, (see photo album for Walk #2).
Walkers strolled along the McKenzie Trail – a 1 mile stretch of paved trail going east/west between Willow and Clovis Avenue. Fenced back yards edged the trail. Just a week earlier, the Fresno Bee highlighted the McKenzie Trail as Fresno’s hidden gem. There were cut-throughs into each neighborhood and cross walks at the major streets crossed.
Walkers talked about the students in these neighborhoods and imagined them getting to and from school. There are a couple of elementary schools, a middle and high school, and one Walker talked about school boundaries and kids attending the school closest to where they live. School boundaries can have an important impact on students and families.
Walkers discussed the sadness because school grounds are fenced, and the gates are locked. These green spaces cannot be opened to the public in the evenings and on weekends. One Walker described “grappling’ with this issue. Walkers talked about the safety, security, maintenance, graffiti, damage to the school grounds, and liability to open school grounds to the public. Walkers saw a kid easily jump the 6 foot fence. While it may not keep everyone out, the fence does keep out most adults and homeless adults who would ‘move in’ with belongings in a shopping cart.
Sights: Trolley Park, large green space of flood control area, large trees, cut trees and remaining stumps, churches, a small memorial, front yard fences, dogs, abandoned shopping carts, graffiti, gardens, dusty disrepair cars, home-made shade structures, porches, porch seating areas, porch decorations, solar panels, red and white roses, halloween decorations, creative and unique home decorations, roofs needing replacement, and a mix of green yards and dry dusty dirt yards and driveways.
Smells: Fresh cut grass, oregano, lavender, sage, citrus, fresh air, exhaust, marijuana, cigarette smoke, musty, chicken on BBQ at Trolley Park.
Sounds: traffic, kids’ laughter, airplanes, birds, roosters and chickens, dogs, hummingbirds, rustle in shrubs, train, people talking.
One FMWalker revealed that her preconceived notions of this neighborhood were that it would be bleaker than a previous walk, because it was further south. The walk challenged her assumptions. These neighborhoods had fewer signs of homeless people and fewer boarded up or abandoned homes than a neighborhood a few miles north. While older, with signs of struggle, these neighborhoods seemed well-lived in. The major intersection of Kings Canyon and Peach has a Walmart and a Winco, and the major streets are well-landscaped with sidewalks and medians.
Walkers described how well they were able to stay focused on this walk, to ‘stay present’ in this neighborhood and not let their minds wander to the past or the future. Walkers seek to understand.
These are our brothers and sisters in Fresno, and all of our lives and futures are tied together.