something in the air

This evening was perfect. If the weather could have been captured in a bottle and savored for perpetuity, I could easily explode. I imagine that tonight is what most evenings in San Diego must feel like year round. Or so I have heard.

I generally resist setting up meetings. That is probably wise on my part, because I thought tonight’s meeting with the landscape architect was next week. My internal clock is just completely off. But fortunately we exchanged cell phone numbers and I ran over to Calvary as soon as I received his call.

Somehow I ended up on the CUUK Committee for Calvary. I am not certain about this name. It involves Care Utility and Upkeep. Essentially I am on the building committee. For anyone who frequents our neighborhood, you are probably debating about whether or not Calvary is active based on the landscaping. It is minimal to say the least. But we are trying to change all of that. As a church member and a neighbor, I am pretty excited about any improvements to Chinatown. And this one is long overdue.

I took Mark LaPierre around the interior of the church. I did my best to share with him the rich history of Sunday School. Calvary is the home of Sunday School and around 80 years ago, there were a few classes filling local theaters with over 2,000 members each. That is not exactly happening today. Regardless, it was important to share the history of the church, see the sanctuary, and talk about the new community partners who inhabit the space.

We then took a walk around the building. I had met with Amy and Paul last week and knew about some of Amy’s priorities and wishes. One being a blend of old with the new. We walked up the Goethe Institute at 7th & I to see their electronic display. Amy wants an electronic display inside of the historical sermon box out front. Later we even thought that a live feed outside might tell people that it is okay if they are late to the service. Please come in.

We ended up spending a good portion of our conversation standing in front of the new Asian restaurant located at 8th and H. Designers and artists frequently use a technique where they stand and squint and envision new possibilities. We looked at the four corners flanked with two pedestrian crosswalks. I told him that I would love to find a way to visually unify the four blocks and create a reason for drivers to slow down and pause. Let the pedestrians live! Hey, I can dream. We talked about the idea of creating an outdoor performance space for Theater Lab and our Calvary Presents music series. We could easily take advantage of the steps, which is a natural stage and close off 8th Street. Chairs could spill over onto the sidewalk across the small street, where the On The Fly SmartCart sells food during the day. Sounded great to me. Tonight was the perfect evening for a nice glass of chilled white wine and a little music in the air.

So our plan is to start with a plan. A dream. A vision… Then we will figure out small steps to be made and go from there. I am very excited. If you are too, I know where you can make out your check – or even donate online. Just add landscaping project to your memo line… Paul will be very excited.

This isn’t just a church pitch, but maybe a sign of real change. By the time I made it home around 8 pm, I noticed that the sidewalks of our blocks were covered – not with drunk people – but children! It was wonderful. Henry said that I was so desperate to connect with the kids that I was staring them down. I don’t know what happened to the regular loiters, but I suspect it was related to the two police officers who parked their police van out front this afternoon and entered the market. Over the last 24 hours, I have noticed that people have been taking plastic crates from outside of the store and sitting outside of the Wah Luck House across the street. Maybe it has something to do with police week, but tonight felt like a real neighborhood!

I felt just like the little kids who were so excited that they were twirling and throwing their bodies in the air. A mother and grandmother ended up chasing them down the street. I pointed out this small miracle to Carol and Lisa. Maybe my vision is working. I don’t honestly care about potted plants and oranges that much. I prefer that parents feel like they can bring their kids outside and our elderly neighbors can stroll freely on the sidewalk across the street.

On my way to buy milk, I saw Tracy from Tai Chi. She invited me to the Chinese Community Church and introduced me to a couple of members of her congregation. She promised that there was an English service at 11. I told her I had a church, but I would love to visit. On my way home, I saw another toddler who was so excited to see me that she waved with both hands. I am not sure why and if she is always this friendly, but this is what I hope for in my community.

By the time I returned, Lisa was walking her dachshund, Henry. Within minutes the children moved down from the temple to marvel at the dog. The two year old repeated doggy several times as Henry coward behind our legs. He gradually moved close enough for the little girl to abruptly poke him in the nose. “Doggy!” He jumped back and sneezed. That was the end of that. Henry was up the stairs before we could open the door. I think that Henry prefers the unks. But I am looking forward to missing them.

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