Reflection from Walk #6, Saturday morning, November 7, 8:30 a.m — Three FMWalkers began in the Tower District, on Olive, at the Mia Cuppa Cafe. The ivy-covered cafe was already busy inside and out, with regulars, and Bee readers, and dogs leashed to patio chairs, enjoying the sunlight on a cool morning. This walk included busy Olive Avenue, neighborhoods surrounding John Muir Elementary School,Golden State Boulevard, railroad tracks, Roeding Park, Storyland, Chaffee Zoo, the roundabout and underpass on Belmont, and older Fresno neighborhoods and alleys.
The veteran walkers described this walk as full of life and activity, vibrant, open and inviting. They felt fortunate to experience so many unique and creative elements within a 4-mile walk in Fresno.
Sights: lots of people, unique retail shops along Olive, bicycles, dog walkers, homeless people, John Muir Elementary School, volunteers and kids at Saturday Sports, Ethiopian Christian Church and gathering, Adventure Church, large ornate Church of Christ, large mature shade trees, unkept alleys, bus stops with people, railroad tracks, majestic trees and sprawling Roeding Park, busy tennis courts, Storyland workers getting ready, line of customers at Chaffee Zoo, Belmont road construction, Hmong funeral, Spirit of Women campus with women and children, underpass at Belmont, homeless encampment with tents and belongings, older single family homes with porches, front yard seating, old motel used for housing, dry or brown front yards, cats, short or decorative front yard fences, many dogs, 1 or 2 stray dogs.
Sounds: clarinet, Coptic Christian Church service chanting, Hmong songs at funeral, dogs barking, car rap music, person singing in house with music, train, traffic, kids playing, people, tennis, construction, birds.
Smells: incense, marijuana, food cooking, fresh cut grass, urine under bridge, dog/cat poop.
Just crossing Palm, FMWalkers came upon people in white flowing clothes. They were unloading items and food from a car and carrying them into the Archangel Church. They immediately greeted us and told us they were Ethiopian Coptic Christians, and that this was a special annual celebration of Saint Gabriel. They invited us in to see the service that was going on. There was chanting and incense. Everyone was in white flowing clothes. Shoes were piled by the front door. The sanctuary was ornate with a prominent altar and people leading chanting songs from the altar. They invited us to come in to the service and wanted us to stay for their meal at 11 am. The children were laughing and playing in a single-wide mobile classroom at the back, and they gladly gathered and smiled so we could take some pictures.
Walkers met Shannon, who was standing on the corner of Golden State Hwy and Olive. Within a 10 minute conversation, Shannon told us she’d burned all her bridges and had done rehab and shelters. She didn’t know where to go from this corner, but told us she was ok and didn’t need help. She was rather agitated and fidgety as we stood and breathed together. We explained that the Spirit of Women shelter was just down the road and pointed her in that direction. During the reflection, Walkers talked about Shannon. In a free society, what can we do for someone like Shannon?
Walkers were happy to find the gates open to the playgrounds at John Muir Elementary. A lively group was gathered at a picnic table. This was Saturday Sports as advertised on the sign at the school. From 10 – noon, there are organized sports, crafts, and snacks. Two volunteers told us they were from Adventure Church, located just around the corner. The showed us their binder of instructions, a bin of supplies, and a bag of sports equipment. This is coordinated by Every Neighborhood Partnership, or ENP, an organization that helps churches engage with their own neighborhoods. One of the kids was practicing her clarinet, which looked new. She said it was brand new, and that she attends Cooper Academy, a special school of Fresno Unified. She performed “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” for us, and as we were walking away, she played “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee.” Her song followed us out of the playground and floated like a leaf until the final notes landed softly on the ground. It was a magical moment.
Back at Mia Cuppa Cafe, FMWalkers were introduced to Barry Scultz, a local violin maker and instrument repair craftsman. Barry says he’s a regular here. Mia Cuppa was hosting their monthly “Art In,” where artists come together to create in the public setting of a coffee shop. The place was busy with singles, couples, and groups gathering on a Saturday morning.
These are our brothers and sisters in Fresno. All of our lives and futures are tied together.This entry was posted in Uncategorized