PARK (ing) DAY
Tomorrow is Park(ing) Day! The first parking day was held at 1st and Mission Streets in downtown San Francisco on November 16, 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio set out to do something different in their urban environment. Combining their love of design and the environment, the group “rented” a two-hour parking space and converted it into a micro-park by giving the 170 square-foot of space a make-over, reclaiming the asphalt that was a necessary by-product of modern living with sod, a tree and some shade, and a park bench. Then they took a picture.
Hence, the birth of Park(ing) Day where metered spaces became miniature parks for as long as you could lease the public space which in this instance was a mere two hours, enough to start a trend, raise awareness for beautifying parks and public spaces, and reimagine a pedestrian-friendly world. The photo of that first event, juxtaposing a miniature park setting in the middle of urban sprawl, made its way around the internet and spawned a movement. Due to the increased interest, Rebar promoted the project, crated a how-to manual and let the idea fly. What started with a single parking meter in a single city increased to approximately 1,000 cities by 2011.
While Rebar is no longer in existence, the website lives on, containing instructions for creating your own Park(ing) Day wherever you live. Today, Park(ing) Day is celebrated in towns and cities all around the globe and has been open-sourced to the world. With that expansion, the idea has expanded as well, and the theme has been re-invented to deal with a variety of social conundrums and to experiment with issues as varied as politics, art, free health care, urban farming, ecology, bike repair, labor issues, or just simple acts of kindness and generosity, depending on a community’s need and vision.
So join the fun. Start a Park(ing) Day movement in your community today. And if you’re in Philadelphia, visit the many Park(ing) Day events across the City. Happy Parking.