Sunday, February 21, 2016, 12 noon, about 25 mindfulness walkers began at Community UCC Church,walked east by Robinson Elementary, Hoover High, Ahwahnee Middle School, 5 churches, parks, and back along busy Bullard and Fresno St. An oasis of green rolling lawns with majestic trees was tucked in just southeast of the busy Bullard and First intersection. Walkers strolled through the open gate and walked the winding gravel path. The green space was empty except for a man lying on the grass. Some walkers passed him by and then walkers toward the back of the group saw that he looked ill and talked to him. The man said he was having heroine withdrawals and was waiting for his drug supplier. Walkers asked the man if he wanted them to call 911. He said no. A walker described this scene after the walk and talked about the prevalence of drug use and addiction. This left walkers with many questions. The oasis of green grass and trees along with a man writhing in pain from heroine withdrawals reminds us of the light and dark contrasts found throughout Fresno. Fresno is full of contrasts.
Walkers described the sights on this walk: blossoms on trees, adults playing sports at Robinson park, grandeur of big trees, little tiny flowers sprouting in open fields, gates with locks and fences, a number of houses for sale, a boarded up apartment and boarded up house across from Awhaneee, litter, landscape that reflects the water shortage, architecture of different churches and schools, few people outside relative to the nice weather, and bus stop with no people waiting.
There were some front yard fences. Dogs barked at walkers from back yards (as compared to dogs running along the front yard fences). Many houses had front door and window security bars, security cameras, and security signs.
There was a man sitting on the ground under the overhang of a shopping mall along with a shopping cart full of his personal belongings. Walkers witnessed a couple offering to help the man. There were numerous vacant stores in the Bullard and Fresno shopping center, and nail salons and spas. Walkers noticed a beautiful redtail hawk at Awhaneee school. Walkers mentioned water in puddles, water features, and water in the ponding basin. One walker who lives near here said she was happy to find new locations for her photography business.
What walkers did not see: No alleys, no loose dogs, no walking or bike paths that cut through from one neighborhood to the next.
Sounds: traffic, birds, mockingbird, dogs barking, music in the distance, people playing at Robinson Park, music in cars, chain saw cutting the tree, weed eater, water features at Chinese Baptist church, and Friends Church.
Smells: flowers, fabric softener, incense, damp grass. No cooking smells from houses, only in the shopping center.
Feelings: Some walkers talked about how their kids grew up in these neighborhoods, and back then there weren’t fences and locked gates around the schools. Their kids could play on the school grounds after school and on the weekends. Walkers talked about safety concerns and why parents won’t let their kids out to play without supervision. Walkers thought more kids should be out playing because of the beautiful weather. They felt kind of sad because few kids were out playing. One younger walker understood this and said that her parents wouldn’t let her go out by herself without supervision.
The neighborhoods felt closed in and transitioning – one area has lots of security gates, then a block away, there were no security gates.
Walkers described what was invisible that is now visible: The Chinese Baptist Church with beautiful courtyard, walking path, coi pond, gazebo, and calming water features. Walkers who take their kids to Ahwahnee Middle School had never noticed the boarded up house right across from the school. Walkers described the irony of the contrast between The Church of Living Water (near Bullard and First) with dry parking lot and granite bolder and then the Chinese Baptist Church that has lush green lawns and water features.
Walks often challenge existing assumptions: One Walker commented that she didn’t want to walk onto the campus of the Friends Community Church because the
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