Reflection Walk #4, Yr 2: On a beautifully cool Saturday morning, October 23, 2015 8 a.m., five FMWalkers met at Wolters Elementary School on First and San Jose to begin a mindfulness walk through neighborhoods surrounding Fresno State, ending on a walk across the university campus. This walk covered five very different areas: 1) older small single family homes, 2) El Dorado Park apartments-some remodeled, some not. 3) student housing in apartments and frat and sorority houses, 4) older but upscale ‘professor’ neighborhoods to the southeast of Shaw/Cedar, and 5) Fresno State campus. Reflections from walkers focused on the mix of housing types, neighborhood conditions, and diversity of residents across all spectrums. Words used to describe this walk: mixture, lively, life, proximity of differences, the whole spectrum.
The stroll from Wolters east towards Cedar wound through older Fresno neighborhoods, with aging roofs, brown yards, and multiple older model cars lining the curbs —a mix of well-tended and neglected homes. The large ponding basin had unlocked gates, and Walkers stood to admire the sprawling lawns edged with trees that seems to be in good shape despite the drought (see photo). Vehicles in driveways and along the curbs indicated employment – blue collar jobs of plumbers and tow truck drivers. Walkers talked about the contrast of the white luxury limousine angled across the small driveway of a house with a boarded up window. This neighborhood of single family homes bumps up against short streets of apartments when we cross into the El Dorado Park neighborhood.
Just as we walked into the area with apartments, Walkers saw two police cars with flashing lights and met Officer Al. The police officers had just found a missing boy. Officer Al told Walkers that the parents had reported the boy missing at midnight and provided his photo. Officers spent the night in search of the boy, but found him walking a block from his house at 8:30 am this morning, just as we were walking by. The boy said he fell asleep playing video games at a neighbor’s house.
Walkers were pleasantly surprised by the renovations of many apartments in El Dorado Park neighborhood. Courtyards were landscaped and windows were replaced and some added for a view of the street.
Walkers talked about the visible security measures in these neighborhoods, especially for student housing – tall rod iron gates, enclosed parking, and security cameras. The ‘luxury student apartments’ (as advertised on the signs) are just a few blocks from Fresno’s most concentrated poverty area, El Dorado Park.
Crossing to the southeast of Cedar and Shaw, Walkers strolled the wide streets of what some reported to be Fresno State’s professors’ neighborhoods. Walkers enjoyed the large lots and mature landscaping with unique outdoor features. A number of houses had pull-through driveways and smaller guest houses in the back. Yards featured fountains, chimes, walk ways, drought tolerant landscaping, and tasteful halloween decorations. Walkers spent five minutes at a home with creative art pieces in a newly landscaped drought-tolerant yard, and one walker knew the homeowner. His front yard is a treat! While in this neighborhood, a black lab/pitbull followed us for about 15 minutes. He even crossed the street with us onto Fresno State. He had no collar. He scared a number of people, especially people walking their dogs. A Walker called animal control, but they said they don’t pick up loose dogs on Saturdays.
The Fresno State campus was full of activity – at least 3 or 4 major events were going on all at once. The parking lots were full, and Walkers witnessed people of all ages enjoying the campus on this beautiful day! A breast cancer run was ending, and Walkers followed a team in pink tutus. The poignant Armenian memorial was in the middle of all the activities. A new WWII also memorial caught our attention. Univision was hosting a RAD event. A college recruiting event was setting up with photo booths and DJs. Walkers passed two young men who said they were Fresno State students. They introduced themselves as Kahreem and Sultan.
Sights: front yard art, police cars, limo, apartments, security, Halloween decor, loose dog, students, pink tutus, jet streams, clouds, mature trees, trash, broken glass, beer bottles, free Dental clinic, Stone Soup, Wendy’s.
Sounds: people, laughter, music, loud talking from frat house, marching band music, traffic, horns, airplanes, dogs, birds, blower.
Smells: Not many. Too late in the season for roses. Fast food near corner of Shaw/Cedar.
Feelings – Positive feelings of life and activity. The loose dog scared Walkers.
In the final few blocks back to Wolters, we met a woman in her front yard. Walkers commented on the beautiful and HUGE vining rose that had grown up her palm tree. One Walker asked her how it was to live in this neighborhood. She said, “terrible” because crime is a huge problem. She described how they have given up on locking their cars, because people just keep breaking out the windows. So they leave their cars empty and unlocked. She’s lived in Fresno for 27 years. Walkers talked about how freely she shared this story with us – and that she did not express anger, but seemed reasonable and measured, resigned to the reality of living with crime.
There was so much to see and experience on this walk. These are our brothers and sisters in Fresno. All of our lives and futures are tied together.This entry was posted in Uncategorized