How happy I was to stumble across the PARK(ing) Day website on the actual day of this annual event! I had heard about it probably about a year ago and thought it was such a cool idea–it’s a global event where people independently but simultaneously temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks. I’m not always a fan of “making a statement”-type stunts, but I couldn’t resist the creativity of this event, because what I do love is when fun meets art in public spaces.
PARK(ing) Day (PD) started in 2005 by a San Francisco art collective; the point was to explore how public space is allocated. Hint: lots more space is allocated to vehicle-related needs than to green space. The idea caught on and now people in cities all over the world participate by creating their own little parks in parking spaces on the same day.
I had to see this in person, and fortunately I found out about a PD spot a short distance from my home, at the University of Illinois-Chicago.The parking spot was actually in a parking lot, so it lacked some of the drama that a space on a busy street might have, but it was still great to see. The group participating were students in UPPSA, the Urban Planning and Policy Student Association. They had quite the set up in their temporary park-lawn chairs, snacks, games and music-to make a great day of it.
I don’t know how much impact this effort will make on city planning or increasing green space, but it’s still a great example of what a little imagination and playfulness can create. It kind of makes me wonder about what else you could do with a parking spot after paying the meter…