[gallery]By Dave Schwab
Crafter Kim Kole does what a lot of other people in Bird Rock do if they get half a chance: She goes for a daily walk.
But she willingly does something along her way almost no one else even thinks of: She takes along a trash bag and a glove and picks up discarded debris.
“I figure I’m already walking, I might as well do it,” said Kole, a self-employed ceramic artist who handcrafts fused dichroic glass into unique jewelry — everything from bracelets to dog collars — that she sells retail and online.
“I just take a (garbage) bag and go,” said Kole, who walks three miles or so up the hill on La Jolla Mesa Drive to La Jolla Scenic Drive South and back again most every day between 10 a.m. and noon.
Kole said it’s great exercise, and a productive way to contribute to the beautification of her community. But she’s a little surprised — sometimes saddened — by what she “discovers.”
“I pick up 50, 60 cigarette butts a day,” Kole said. “I always know right where to look — this great view on top of La Jolla Mesa.”
The artist-turned-sanitation engineer comes back each time with as much as half, or more, of a garbage bag filled with junk.
“It depends on what I find,” she said, noting she’s come across everything from old car batteries stashed under hedges to sleeping bags.
Asked what the most surprising thing she ever found was, Kole replied, “I don’t know. I’ve been doing it so long — I don’t remember.”
Kole said her dad was a role model for her “always cleaning and picking up stuff.” Now she hopes to serve as an example to others.
“Someone sees you doing it, they think, ‘Maybe I should do that too,’ ” she said.
Besides encouraging people to pick up after themselves and others in their neighborhoods, Kole has another charitable cause she espouses: caring for indigent animals.
She and her husband Bill have four dogs, one a Chihuahua with its leg now in a plaster cast, that they’ve adopted from the Foundation For The Care of Indigent Animals. The Foundation is a small, nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that takes in small "adoptable" dogs, often with medical problems, that would otherwise be euthanized.
With no shelter, the foundation places rescued dogs in foster homes. Those offered for adoption are shown Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at different pet stores throughout San Diego.
Kole said she intends to continue walking and policing up trash because she gets a lot out of it.
“It breaks up your day and gives me time to think about everything else I need to do,” she said. “It’s almost like a treasure hunt: Look what I found now?”
Kim Kole’s jewelry is available for sale at The Artful Soul at 7660-A Fay Ave. or online at
- For more information about the indigent pet foundation visit