Dog-Friendly: Yes Kid-Friendly: Yes
Located in the heart of City Heights lays a sweet gathering spot that was made possible by many hands. Thank you to the neighbors, business owners, schools, community artists, non-profits, contractors, and representatives from the City of San Diego who took a once allegedly dangerous and dilapidated plot of land and turned it into something so special.
The site of the Manzanita Gathering Place was once a dumping ground for people’s junk, was heavily eroded with invasive plants, a barricade of razor-sharp wires preventing access to the neighboring streets and an encampment for drug use. Not the kind of place you’d want your child to be around, or even you for that matter.
Together the groups mentioned above visualized and transformed this space into a beautiful work of art. Both volunteer artists and school children helped create the mosaic pillars that you can see when visiting.
The four main pillars represent the four elements: air, water, earth and fire as well as the four connecting neighborhoods in this area. The community not only breathed colorful life into this space but also helped the overall ecological health of the area by planting native plants in the garden.
There are still regular clean-ups and community gatherings that happen here. Here is a sweet article that shows the behind-the-scenes process of creating the Manzanita Gathering Place.
In 2015, this project received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects!
When you visit, keep your eyes peeled for the Native Seed Plant Library! This concept is similar to the Little Free Library except with native seeds! The library was built by neighbor & carpenter Zubin Eggleston whose house is next door to the Manzanita Gathering Place. With the help of the San Diego Audubon Society, San Diego Canyonlands, California Native Plant Society, the library was brought to life!
Eggleston did a beautiful job with the design of the library. The doors are made of walnut and open up into drawers which carry the variety of seeds. The concept is that once the seeds that the neighbors have taken grow into beautiful, flowering plants, they can take the new seeds from those flowers and refill the library.
Using native seeds is an important way to give back to our city’s delicate habitat. It helps our local wildlife tremendously who rely on these plants for nectar, seeds and protection.