The Santa Barbara City Walk, sponsored by UCSB’s Christian group Intervarsity, allowed students to see a side of Santa Barbara often overlooked by college-goers. Participants met on campus Saturday morning to tour downtown together and spend the day walking around and listening to short lectures about the Santa Barbara that doesn’t make it into travel guides.
The walk was designed so that leaders from area organizations could educate the students and community members on issues like homelessness, gang activity, alcoholism, and environmental degradation.
Haley Compean, a third year UCSB student and student leader with Intervarsity, said that the event is a unique chance to see problems outside the bubble of Isla Vista. “I’m hoping it will inspire people to think about the entirety of our city rather than just the party scene,” Compean said. “I would really like to see UCSB students inspired by these local community leaders to think about what we could be doing to help our community.”
The crowd of about 40 students broke off into smaller groups to walk around State Street and the surrounding area to stop at certain meeting points where local community leaders met them to discuss challenges that Santa Barbara faces. The talks, averaging about 10 minutes long, allowed time for walkers to ask questions about the organizations represented and ways to get involved.
Jeff Shaffer of Common Ground, an organization that seeks to shelter and rehabilitate homeless individuals and families, told Intervarsity members, “Whether you realize it or not, homelessness affects everyone from the taxpayers to the people on the street. Every homeless person has their own story, and this event is an excellent opportunity to show students that we as a community need to be actively seeking solutions for issues that so greatly affect our city.”
The walking tour ended with a barbeque in Pershing Park and a raffle of gift certificates to local restaurants for the participants.