By Steven Doerhoff, Staff Writer
Every year, on the third Friday of September, metered parking spaces in cities around the globe will be transformed into temporary public places, calling attention to the need for more urban open space and creating debate for how the land in these areas is used. This year, PARK(ing) Day will occur on September 15.
The tradition of PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, temporarily transformed a metered parking space into a public park for a day. The goal of the project was to raise awareness and spark debate about using urban space for areas that serve more needs than simply parking. Since that time, this idea has been adapted in many cities to serve that purpose as well as tailored to fit each city’s needs.
PARK(ing) Day is an “open-source” project that invites artists, activists or anyone with a desire to create, to convert a parking space into a temporary open public space. It has been used to shed light on various social issues and applied in many urban contexts. PARK(ing) Day spaces can range from artistic or experimental, to fun or political; its meaning based solely on the interpretations of the designer.
The best way to start a PARK(ing) Day project is to visit the website, http://parkingday.org. It includes a manual with “how-to” information to help aid in the design, answers to some frequently asked questions, and a DIY Planning Network to connect with participants locally and in other cities. Of course, it is advised to research and be conscious of local laws and regulations when joining in on the PARK(ing) Day celebration too.
According to the website, participants have built free health clinics, planted temporary urban farms, produced ecology demonstrations, held political seminars, built art installations, and opened free bike repair shops, all supporting the original vision of PARK(ing) Day: to challenge existing notions of public space and empower people to help redefine space to suit specific community needs.