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‘A global celebration for creating community’: Bird Rock to host Jane’s Walk down La Jolla Boulevard

La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock will be the scene of a Jane's Walk on Saturday, May 7.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

San Diego’s first Jane’s Walk — a way to celebrate community — will come to Bird Rock on Saturday, May 7, when a group will travel the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, La Jolla Boulevard.

Walkers will meet at 10 a.m. at La Jolla Hermosa Park and make their way to Calumet Park.

Jane’s Walk, named for late writer and urbanist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), is a movement of free, resident-led walks that encourage people to share stories about their neighborhoods, discover unseen aspects of their communities and use walking as a way to connect with their neighbors, according to the Jane’s Walk organization, which was founded in Toronto in 2006 by a group of Jacobs’ friends and colleagues and now inspires walks worldwide.

“It’s a global celebration for creating community by walking your streets,” said Bird Rock resident Mimi Sells, who is organizing the May 7 walk. “I’ve been interested in how you create communities for a number of years. When we moved to Bird Rock three years ago, we noticed how many empty storefronts there were and we thought about how to bring some life into the community.”

She said part of the purpose of the Jane’s Walk is to have community members look at those empty storefronts and dream of what could go there. She also would like people to think about the community’s needs and assets, appreciate the coastal overlooks and take a deeper look at the trees along the street.

“The real idea is to get people to talk to each other and share ideas,” she said. “And maybe inspire other areas of La Jolla and San Diego to do the same thing.”

When Sells moved to Bird Rock, she wanted to participate in a Jane’s Walk but not necessarily organize one, she said. She looked for something near her home but couldn’t find one.

“Jane’s Walks are all over the world; there are ones in India and Portugal, but none in San Diego,” Sells said. So she decided to start in her own backyard.

“We have the beautiful neighborhood,” she said. “Bird Rock feels like a mini community with a charming shopping district, family-oriented, beach overlooks. That’s what creates this sense of safety and happiness ... seeing other people enjoy the neighborhood. I love it here and I love to share it with people.”

Bird Rock Community Council member Arianna Opsvig agrees.

“I think Bird Rock is unique in so many ways and is such a wonderful place for a Jane’s Walk,” she said. “We have a pleasant setting to walk in, it’s not a challenging walk. We have a variety of architectural styles, the beaches, and the gardens are coming alive right now. There is so much beauty in our community.

“Beyond that, there is so much for people to notice on the boulevard. There are businesses we might have passed but never visited, houses we might not have noticed. We have a mix of residential and merchants, so there is so much to see in a small little area.”

“The real idea is to get people to talk to each other and share ideas. And maybe inspire other areas of La Jolla and San Diego to do the same thing.”

— Mimi Sells

Opsvig is working with Bird Rock Elementary School to reach out to its parents.

“This is an opportunity for folks to meet each other and for kids to meet each other,” she said. “I think we haven’t had the opportunity to bring people out and together again in the community in so long. This can jump-start getting people out and about to connect with each other. That’s what got me excited about it.”

There is no fee to join the walk, and registration is not required. Additional details will be posted as they become available at janeswalk.org/united-states/la-jolla-ca. ◆