Taste of North Park

It’s time again for one of my favorite local events! Taste of North Park returns October 12, offering tantalizing tidbits from 45 restaurants and 15+ craft brews right here in our fair neighborhood.


I look forward to this food-lover’s dream every year, as both a snapshot of San Diego’s culinary evolution (a tasty, tasty snapshot) and a chance to see my community out and about. In both cases, I know I’ll always bump into old favorites and discover something (or someone) new and wonderful.

Take a roll call of your favorite foodie friends and make sure you’ve all got tickets in advance (the event caps ticket sales to assure quality, and it sells out every year). Then get together with the vendor list and do a little light planning so you’ll all get to try the things you most want, leaving time in between to discover the unexpected.

As the foodie scene has evolved, so has the self-guided tour, which now includes brewery tastings hosted inside area businesses that residents might not normally have the chance to see.

Tip: Map out your food tour alongside the event’s mural tour to plan for some eye candy and the chance to learn more about our area’s artists. Because the Saturday event runs from 11am to 3pm, it seems fated to turn into a rollicking brunch crawl, but don’t surrender to the siren call of bottomless mimosas — at least, not until after you’ve gotten the most out of your tasting opportunities.

Over the years, Taste of North Park has only gotten more and more fun. It thrills me to see how this fun event brings our community together and celebrates our growing reputation as a food destination, which is why I’m such an enthusiastic sponsor. If you see me out and about during the event, please catch me to say hello!

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Meet Your Neighbors: Humble Design

I’ve always got my ear to the ground for novel ways that people are making an impact in their community. When I learned about Humble Design’s mission to help reduce serial homelessness, one family at a time, it really grabbed me by the heartstrings.

Families transitioning from homelessness can face a wallop of new expenses and obligations, not the least of which is furnishing a new place from scratch. This is the first nonprofit I’ve heard of that is dedicated to easing this aspect of the transition. When a local individual or family is referred for their services, Humble Design outfits their home with furniture and household goods which, according to their mission statement, “helps San Diego families with a fresh start creating ownership, dignity, and stability.”

Their website says that on average up to fifty percent of those newly transitioned from homelessness can expect to return to a shelter within a year. But with Humble Design’s assistance, that figure drops to one percent. That’s an impact right in the feels, and I can only imagine how uplifting the effect is for each of the recipients — over 1,265 families since 2009, and over 30 homes over the last eight months here in San Diego, where they furnish a home every Friday.

Humble Design was founded in Detroit by El Cajon native Treger Strasberg, now living again in the San Diego area. The company has extended their mission to include Chicago, Seattle, and of course San Diego, where communities have embraced their work eagerly. It’s easy to see why, if you check out YouTube videos of their work in action. Families opening their new front door, seeing the fully furnished space for the first time, kids bouncing on the first beds they’ve ever had … you’ll see plenty of tears in the videos, and I know I shed a few of my own.

Better yet, you can experience it in person. In addition to the essential help of sponsors, donors, and partner non-profits, Humble Design’s work relies on the generosity of volunteers, who can help with Deco Day Fridays. That’s when a team of designers and volunteers pitch in to clean, furnish, and decorate the place of a newly homed individual or family. After all the hard work, participants get to witness the unveiling and all the joy it brings.

Visit humbledesign.org for more information and to explore ways you can contribute — from donating household goods or cash to volunteering to sponsoring a family, there are lots of ways to help and feel good.

Empty Nest 101

Do you want to look at this for the next four years? Or is it time to turn The Junior Museum into that office you’ve always wanted?

Do you want to look at this for the next four years? Or is it time to turn The Junior Museum into that office you’ve always wanted?

School’s getting out for the summer — congratulations to all the recent graduates, and best wishes on the next stage of your journey! Now get out.

I kid! My own daughter will be moving away soon to join her brother at Colorado State, and I’ll dearly miss having them both around. But where some might see an empty nest, I see a house full of possibilities.

If your last or only kid is finally off to start college or a new career, this might be the beginning of a new, quieter chapter of your life. It might be tempting to just sleep for the next four years, but this is your best chance at kicking off those changes you’ve been dreaming about: start some new habits, redecorate, make new friends, rent out that suddenly empty room ...

One college-parent activity that’s growing in popularity is buying a condo near the campus. For some parents this offers the chance to visit their fledglings while having a stable and familiar place to stay. Other parents invest in a condo for their student rather than shell out for on-campus housing, turning dorm rent into equity and setting themselves up for possible future rental income.

On top of that, there’s statistically a pretty good chance that, after the last echoes of Pomp & Circumstance have faded, a college graduate will remain near their alma mater. This may offer you the opportunity to sell that condo right back to its most recent resident by adding them to the mortgage and letting them assume the payments, a great way to help them build credit and equity (and get out of paying for all the repairs it will need after four years of “studying”).

But back to your own humble abode! Even if you don’t decide to rent out your student’s cubbyhole under the stairs, it’s a great time to start putting the house back in shape. Take a good look around and you’ll spot a world of little things you can fix or clean — a hinge here, a dented wall there, that stairway carpet that’s going threadbare down the middle.

They might be few and small enough that you’ll be happy just seeing them fixed; if you enjoy DIY, set aside time every day or week to work your way through the big list. It’ll stay nice a whole lot longer this time.

Sometimes having that new extra elbow room can inspire you to take a deeper dive into improving your home, meaning it’s remodel time. Look closely at how you actually use your space and rooms: do you wish you had an office instead of a guest room? Would you like more light in your kitchen? Let your imagination run wild, prioritize your needs and wishes, and turn your war-torn old house into a refreshing “new” home.

And for many, the college years are a great time to consider a change in scenery. Whether downsizing, looking for a new lifestyle, or simply profit-taking, it can’t hurt to look around. When you see what’s available, like the homes for sale in San Diego, you might be surprised to find you’re ready to start an even newer chapter.

In any of these cases, I’d be happy to sit down and chat with you about your home needs. Besides helping you buy or sell, I can refer top-notch professionals to help you with your house’s repair or remodel. And of course if you’re ready to see some new places, I’d love to show you around. Contact me anytime!

Meet Your Neighbors: San Diego Staycation

Sailing on San Diego Bay

My friend Jade had her heart set on going abroad with her beau, but then they sat down with their maps and calendars and budget. “I love traveling in other countries,” said Jade, “but this time it just felt like the stress-to-enjoyment ratio was way out of whack. Maybe we started planning too late, or were overthinking it, but whatever: we really hit a wall. Then out of the blue, Rick just said, ‘Staycation?’ Um, YES PLEASE.”

Our conversation got me thinking about low-stress vacation options even closer to home. I’ve lived my whole life in California and I still hear about “new” world-class destinations right under my nose. I, like many, don’t take full advantage of local tourist attractions because I live right on top of them and never think about visiting.

So I thought, what if my family were to put on our Tourist Hats with a week to play in the San Diego area? Assuming we’d stay mainly in our own home and mostly day-trip, I worked up a rough seven-day itinerary touching both the familiar and new.

Day One —Balboa Park. Confession: we are already frequent flyers here. Shakespeare under the stars at the Old Globe, the Nighttime Zoo, Spanish Village for artwork and unique gifts, summertime’s plethora of events — it doesn’t matter what specific things we do, we ALWAYS have a great time here as a family!

Day Two — Ocean Beach, Tidepools. It’s a beautiful trip down Point Loma to visit the Cabrillo National Monument. TIP: The tidepools are a hidden gem, accessible only by a road winding downhill from the site’s more popular attractions, the museum and old lighthouse. We’ll take a picnic, hike out to see the sealife at low tide, then head back to Ocean Beach for fun in the sun, dinner, and a sunset.

Days Three & Four — Julian and Anza Borrego. Julian’s famous for apple pie, but have you been to the California Wolf Center? Me neither! Let’s fix that. We’ll spend the afternoon poking around the quaint town, then retreat after dinner to a vacation rental where we can soak in the kind of starry night sky you can only see in the clear mountain air, far from city lights. Next morning we’ll see the wonders of the desert before things really heat up, then take the scenic route home.

Day Five — Vacation from Staycation. Seriously, we need a break from taking a break. I’m not making ANY plans for today. Everybody freestyle! Don’t ask me to cook —all of North Park is out there waiting for you. You can fend for yourselves. Bonus points if you bring me back a coffee and pastry.

Day Six — La Jolla. I associate La Jolla mainly with shopping and dining, but there’s so much more to do: sea cave kayaking, hiking Torrey Pines, sea lions, maybe just a little browsing, and then after dinner a show at the amazing La Jolla Playhouse. Heaven!

Day Seven — San Diego Bay. Let’s start the day by learning more about our area from the water on a bay tour. Then we’ll rent or borrow a sailboat and pull up somewhere fun for lunch. Later we’ll explore the waterfront by foot or scooter, then grab dinner someplace with a stunning view — Bali Hai or Coasterra come to mind.

I’m not sure this is exactly what we’d wind up doing. But now that I’ve done all this research it’s sounding more and more fun to be a tourist in my own town. Got any tips for hidden gems? Drop me a line and tell me what I shouldn’t miss!

The Spirit of North Park: SDCCU Festival of Arts


Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded how fortunate I am to have found my home in North Park. The art scene. The restaurants. The unique shops. The craft brew.

To me, North Park is the crystallization of everything wonderful about San Diego. And our annual Festival of Arts distills that even more, delivering a potent 11-hour dose of beauty, joy, and revelry.

In its 23rd year, this community tradition brings together North Parkians (and San Diegans in general) for an epic street festival that barricades something like 10 blocks along University to host five live music stages, 35 craft beers, karaoke, local food vendors, and of course over 200 local makers, some of whom will be creating their work live as you watch!

Sponsored by SDCCU, the festival is under the capable leadership of our friends at North Park Main Street, who are responsible for so many of our community’s events and initiatives. You can also thank them for our Business Improvement District, the weekly Thursday Market, October’s Taste of North Park, and of course our locally world-famous Toyland Parade. If you missed my recent interview with Executive Director Angela Landsberg, check it out on my blog at KimHawley.net!)

DON’T leave the kids at home — there’s plenty of entertainment for the whole family. They’ll never forget their day filled with mind-boggling art, foot-tapping tunes, and opportunities to participate, such as the Artelexia Make & Create Craft Event. With events scheduled from 10 am to 7:30 pm, Ray Street’s the place to be for craft workshops and more.

You won’t want to miss the chance to see North Park get a brand new mural. Watch artists transform the wall of Nomad Donuts live, accompanied by the sounds of local DJs who’ll be rocking the Live Art block on Illinois Street. Nearby, you can watch as artists freestyle on canvas while others create an installation destined for upcoming ice cream festival, SCOOP San Diego.

Whether you’re a resident of North Park or just visiting, put the Festival of Arts on your calendar. That’s Saturday May 11, 11 am to 10 pm, on and around University Avenue from 30th to 32nd Streets. Ink it. Don’t miss it. Hope to see you there!