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Yoga, pick-up soccer matches, food and desserts trucks all have one thing common this summer, “Summer in St. James,” a pilot program aimed to reactivate St. James park in downtown San Jose to become more community and family oriented.

The Office of Economic Development, the Department of Neighborhood Parks and Recreation and Neighborhood Services, the City Manager’s Office, in collaboration with the San Jose Downtown Association put together a team to create activities and events to encourage residents to use the park. The city received a 60 thousand dollar grant from the Knight Foundation to fund the newly launched pilot program.

“St. James Park, it’s such a great park it has a lot of historic value to San Jose, but over the years it had become less active and not tremendously utilized,” said Department of Parks and Recreation event coordinator Brian Clampitt.

Clampitt said the goal is to change the landscape of the park to “a much more inviting park to the community in general.” He added that residents saw St. James as a walk through, using the park to cut through to get to one place from another. With the addition of weekly activities in the park, “we see folks actually coming around and hanging out spending their lunchtime in the park,” said Clampitt.

The park reactivation group is focused on providing community activities; they have also addressed in their pilot program the homeless population and a crime-taking place in the park. Clampitt said the group is working with the San Jose Police Department to ensure regular sweeps to issue citations for any illegal activity-taking place.

Clampitt said the Department of Housing and the Department of Health are conducting outreach to the current homeless population that frequently use the park to spread awareness about resources that are available to them.

Still in its early stages, the program already has increased its attendees, especially during its Wednesday noon activities, like yoga. Michelle Linane, founder of, “Be The Change Yoga and Wellness,” said the Wednesday noon outdoor yoga class started off with eight or nine participants and has grown to over 20.

“It’s really the community effort. There’s so much going on in the park right now we’re really glad to be apart of it,” said Linane. “It is our downtown local community, there are people out here right now taking their very first yoga class.”

The “Summer in St. James” pilot program plans to keep expanding by adding more weekly activities, along with the fitness classes and morning boot camps. For a full listing of this summer’s events including outdoor movie nights, fitness activites, and festivals visit http://sjdowntown.com/summerinstjames/.

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