SALINAS – Blue Zones Project Monterey County, together with Salinas City Center, has created an urban walking loop in the area of oldtown Salinas to encourage people to get out and move.
A path marked by arrow decals sets up the one-mile loop through the downtown area of Salinas primarily on Main Street where walking groups, or moais, can stroll the newly revitalized streetscape where wider sidewalks and pedestrian outcroppings make it more pedestrian-friendly.
“This is not the first walking moai in Salinas, however, it is the first with decals installed,” said Jenna Abramson, Salinas City Center Improvement Association spokeswoman. “Monterey Cadre started walking moai back in July and have implemented a mile walk to their weekly schedules.”
Abramson said the decals through the downtown Salinas area were installed in late August, and the feedback from the community has been positive.
“People have shared that our walking moais encourage and remind them to take a walk, take a quick break from work and simply get some fresh air,” she said.
Pronounced “mo-eye,” the word comes from Okinawa, Japan, and means “meeting for a common purpose,” where neighbors use moais as support systems to help those in need. Based on this tradition, moai walking groups provide social interaction and support.
“Walking can be formed anywhere,” said Abramson. “Blue Zones currently has a community hiking and walking moai at Creekside Terrace Trail, Saturdays from 8-10 am”
Blue Zones is currently working on fun ways to enhance the current one-mile walk through the oldtown Salinas area. The goal is to encourage residents and the downtown business community to get outdoors and move naturally while enjoying the recently renovated surroundings.
Abramson said she and her coworkers have taken the urban hike through Salinas City Center.
“I have even taken work calls while walking, The Blue Zones Project team takes walks along the path and depending on their time, they might even do two laps,” she said. “It is a great way to hold weekly team meetings. … Walk, talk and share. ”
The walking path takes people past the new downtown Salinas arch, the Taylor building, National Steinbeck Center museum and memorial located at CSUMB at Salinas City Center, along Gabilan and Monterey streets, through Mid-Town Lane, and past many locally-owned shops, businesses and restaurants.
“You can jump on the path anywhere that you find an arrow in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks on Main Street, but the most convenient are to start the path, for those driving to the area, is at the alley walkway, next to Patria restaurant, from the parking lot on Salinas Street to Main Street, ”said Abramson.
The Blue Zones Project describes itself as a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to the build environment (the human-made environment that provides the setting for human activity,) policy, and social networks, enabling residents to live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease.
Blue Zones Project Monterey County started in 2018 in Salinas and has expanded to the Monterey Peninsula and areas of South County.
Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five cultures in the world – or blue zones – with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years of age or older. The project incorporates Buettner’s finding and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being.
The Salinas City Center Improvement Association is a local nonprofit funded by district property owners for the betterment of downtown and is made up of volunteer committees dedicated to implementing their vision for a vibrant downtown.