by Janice Watkins

Free artistic reign and a blank canvas are crucial elements in many artists’ quests to create a masterpiece. 13 miles of blank canvas may just be the pinnacle of every artist’s enterprise. With chalk as the tool of choice and a pavement trail as the canvas, Chalk the Walk provides the quintessential elements for every artist and budding artist alike.

The culmination of a class project, this inaugural event, scheduled for April 30, 2011 from 10 a.m. to Noon, is a way to bring the community together in celebration of the iconic Shunga Trail.

“We want to encourage people to get out and be active and appreciate the Shunga for all it means to the community. It connects neighborhoods, it’s good for transportation, it’s a cycling route across the city, it leads to a healthier lifestyle,” said Karl Fundenberger, one of the five creators of the event.

Fundenberger, along with Amy Strathman, Brett Oetting, Chelle Decker and Don Rankin created the idea as part of their participation in Leadership of Greater Topeka, sponsored by the Topeka Chamber of Commerce. The five were paired on their combined interest in neighborhood revitalization, complete street issues and sustainability. The Shunga, traditionally known as a runner’s training ground of choice, a cyclist’s dream and a dog-walker’s paradise, seemed like the obvious place, with its path spanning through many of the city’s parks and recreational areas and connecting neighborhoods from Crestview to Oakland.

The event hopes to not only bring awareness to the Shunga and all of its appeal, but to “spruce” up the already beautiful trail with every shade of sidewalk chalk available.

Check-in will commence at 9 a.m. at the Crestview Community Center (4801 SW Shunga Drive) and participants will receive their chalk and be assigned a square. While Fundenberger adds that to cover the whole thirteen miles of the trail would be “wild,” the group is hoping that at least 100 squares will be completed by each individual or group that registers.

The trail will still be open during the event to runners, walkers, cyclists and nature enthusiasts and Fundenberger is hoping that the the cost (free) and the vendor booths and information that will be available about the community will lure participants straight off the trail.

“We’re really hoping for organic participation,” Fundenberger notes, “for people to see what’s going on and get interested.”

For more information, or to register for the event, visit

[ March 2011 | Janice Watkins | Shunga Sign photo by Adam Koger | cross-posted to ]

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