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HEART TRAIL in Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- A great concept for other towns and cities to consider

On a recent visit to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I participated in a day trip planned by the Baton Rouge tourism folks entitled "Artistry in the City." From the very first stop on the tour, I was impressed with the vision and passion of locals who want to enrich the lives of others.

At Cocha Restaurant on 6th Street, I was introduced to both the owner of the restaurant and to Taylor Jacobsen, the creator and inspiration for Baton Rouge's Heart Trail. Read much more about Cocha in my review for The Yums.

The enthusiasm and obvious skill of landscape architect Jacobsen are showing up all over downtown Baton Rouge, and the mural across the street from Cocha is a prime example.

Jacobsen was in a high position at a tech company when he started experiencing stress-related heart issues and knew he needed to make some changes in his lifestyle. Adding physical activity was a necessary first step, and walking appeared to be the simplest solution. As he started walking, he realized the benefits of being outdoors and decided to return to his first educational background in landscape design. He started a design studio called Urban Canvas Studio and developed a plan for an art-focused downtown walking trail -- a perfect summary of all his passions. (He even has shoes to reflect that fact). The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge heartily endorsed his vision and gave their support to the project.

The result is a 3.2 mile course that, when seen from an aerial view, loosely resembles a heart.

Heart-shaped decals have been placed at regular intervals along the trail guiding walkers who could start at any point. They purposefully pass local landmarks, businesses, parks and art installations.

Enrique Pinerua, owner of Cocha, and Jacobsen collaborated on the art installation within full view of the outdoor dining area of Cocha.

It is called "Tree of Life." The painting of the tree depicts its yearly seasons and reflects the seasonal menu offered at Cocha. Native animals, such as lizards, frogs and large birds, are woven into the overall mural. Visitors and those walking that section of the Heart Trail enjoy finding all of these details.

Those who are interested in advice and consultation about establishing such a trail in their own home town are encouraged to contact Taylor Jacobsen at

He is a very smart young man who would be happy to help you.

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