A group of about 20 San Jose locals gathered around the Peralta Adobe site on a warm Saturday afternoon, surrounding two De Anza freshmen as they spouted off facts about the historic building—the oldest structure still standing in San Jose.

The purpose for the gather was the Adobe to Adobe tour, part of San Jose Walks and Talks, a new organization created to showcase Silicon Valley history.

Adobe to Adobe provides a historical arc, starting with San Jose’s first native residents at the Peralta site and ending at the towering Adobe Software building a few blocks away.

The tour consisted of about 20 different stops in downtown San Jose, including St. James Park and De Anza Hotel.

“Our goal is to target the local community,” says Greg Alder, director of the company. “Surprisingly people from San Jose or the Bay Area don’t know how important of a role San Jose has played in our history.”

Alder, an economics teacher at Santa Teresa High School, decided to start the company because students were having trouble finding part-time jobs and he wanted to give them skills they could use for their future.

“This job offers so many skills you can put on a resume,” Alder says. “I think in working through this, students learn how a business runs and how to be professional. It’s hard for kids at a young age to build up a resume and I hope this gives them an opportunity.”

Alder and some of his students began talking about the idea last winter and the first tour was introduced last summer.

“This is a dual opportunity to teach more about San Jose to residents and support students who are trying to bridge the gap between education and the working world,” Alder says.

Students went to libraries to do research, talked to people who served as oral history sources and worked with primary source documents to come up with talking points for the tour.

Alder says he wants the tours to be interesting and have stories that surprise guests. 

“We try to tell stories about art, whether it’s public art or some of the business stores,” Alder says. “We want it to be enjoyable and make people appreciate San Jose in a new way.”

Alder says he wants to guide the students in an experience about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.

“The Walk and Talk Tour Company is perfect for us because we don’t have much capitol and we’re kind of self-funding it,” Alder says. “It’s a business that we came upon and realized that we could get started.”

Hafid Alfonso, a student tour guide, says he decided to participate because it was something he could see using for his future.

“I never actually knew San Jose had so much history in downtown and how much of an influence we have here with all of the immigrant stories and of all the entrepreneur stories,” Alfonso says. 

Matt Peyton, another student tour guide, says he was interested in being involved with this program because he wanted to take a shot at starting a business from the bottom.

“I’ve never had my hands on anything like this,” Peyton says. “I was unemployed so I was looking for something to put on a resume that was a great start for me.”

Alder says he tries to stand back as much as possible and let the students get involved in all the positions and play as many roles as they can.

“The overall goal for this was to give kids the experience of what it’s like to run a business and to provide the community something,” Alder says.

Along with the research and guiding the tours the students are also involved in the marketing and social media aspect of the company.

Alder says they go to events often to introduce themselves and explain the business. They recently ran into Mayor Reed at an event and had an opportunity to talk to him about their company.

Since all the tours are free, Alder says he hopes to get some funding soon to help give the students something back for their hard work.

“In general we are working off of tips and I’m hoping we will be able to get some funding or some grants that will help support this so I can offer the opportunity to more kids in the future,” Alder said.

Alder says he hopes to bring on about five to 10 more students between the spring and summer.

He also wants the students to play a role in management and bring the current tour guides up to training the new tour guides as well as managing the company.
He said they may possibly expand to more schools and students in the area.

San Jose Walk and Talk offers three tours: the adobe to Adobe tour, one that starts at the Fairmont Hotel and goes through the arts district; and a tour of San Jose’s Little Italy neighborhood.

Alder says he hopes to do a tour that connects San Jose State University to City Hall as well as a ghost tour.

Peyton says the one thing he can take away from this is experience is the hard work and dedication a small business takes to build.

“You’re going to face the struggles starting a small business, but if you persevere through those, try hard enough and put enough effort into what you’re doing, things will work out,” Peyton says. “Things are looking really great for us now and I like the direction we’re headed in.”

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