“I would love to see more public space engagement…”

As a teenager, Ed Solis didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, so he joined the military, more specifically, the 82nd Airborne Division. He came out of the service after a few combat tours with the intention of really making a difference in the world. Love brought him to San Jose. Then in 2014, he was appointed recreation superintendent at City Hall. In that position, Solis has implemented numerous recreational activities, but the idea for his most notable activity he gleaned during a fact-finding mission to Guadalajara, Mexico—the notion of a day of open streets, free of cars, to build better community relations. The idea is simple, and though Solis was hesitant to try it in the United States, he decided to give it a chance. “Viva Calle” was born and has been a smashing success. Last year, 130,000 people turned out to shut down six miles of San Jose streets and get to know one another. As for the future, Solis plans to continue bringing the San Jose community together in fun, meaningful, and inclusive ways.

“Before I retire in about five years, I would really love to see our open streets program growing and thriving on a multiple-timed basis every year. I would love to see more public space engagement where we have nonprofits, art groups, and citizens all taking part in creating vibrant communities and public spaces for everyone to enjoy. You may not have a park or a dog park in your community, but if there is a spot that can act as an open space, then that’s wonderful. Ultimately, I would love to see all the folks in San Jose come together around making the city more walkable, more livable, and more inclusive. This town is a wonderful place; we just have to connect all these little communities into one unified, connected city.”

Find out about the next Viva Calle San Jose, route, and tips visit the link below.

instagram: vivacallesj

This article originally appeared in Issue 10.4 “Profiles”