It’s the most wonderful time of the year… if you’re a fan of tiny, community-generated parks. PARKing day, which allows citizens to transform parking spots into activated spaces, is this Friday, September 15.
This year, the day features 47 installations throughout the city. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says different installations include “everything from arts and crafts to bike repair and snacks,” plus the perennial favorite—spots to sit and relax.
Seattle Department of Transportation has put together a map of all 47 locations, from Lake City to South Park. Unsurprisingly, there’s a dense belt around the center of the city in the downtown, Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Central Area region—including at least two bike repair stations.
A screenshot of the interactive Park(ing) Map for Seattle:
Have you ever wandered into a neighborhood or parking lot and thought, “Wow, this space could use a nice mini-park, or even a bench.” Well, here you go!
A colorful banner pasted alongside the bin’s rough exterior cheerfully announces ‘Park-A-Park’, the mobile parklet that launched on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive at the tail end of July. The bin reaches just over three feet high, its inner walls are ringed with wooden bench seating, and planters and tables mingle inside to offer a charming, yet functional environment. The unit is capped by a shade-providing umbrella, and one end of the bin lies open, like a drawbridge, coyly beckoning passersby to enter.
A partnership between Emily Carr University of Art + Design and local Urban Interventionist Julien Thomas, Park-A-Park has been designed to transform an industrial disposal bin into an aesthetic mobile park that can be transported, parked, and enjoyed throughout the city. The unit is a component of Emily Carr’s chART project and aims to support public art and community engagement through creativity and innovation.
Signs of spring are just starting to appear – birds are getting more active, tulips are just starting to show off green shoots – but even in my neck of the woods I know it’ll be awhile before spring is actually here. In New York, one group is fighting the gray and dark with an installed insta-park:
Welcome to New York City in winter, with a cure for cold-weather blues: a pop-up indoor park in lower Manhattan that’s open through Valentine’s Day.
Despite temperate temperatures so far this year, “it’s our rebellion against winter,” says Jonathan Daou, founder and CEO of Openhouse Gallery, a company that holds a 20-year lease on the space at 201 Mulberry St.
On a recent chilly weekday afternoon, babies played barefoot in the 75-degree world of Park Here while their mothers and fathers sipped tea, eating cookies and sandwiches.
One night, a movie is planned on the lawn; other days bring a ping pong competition, a trivia contest, wine tastings and soccer workshops.
The 5,000-square-foot artificial habitat in the downtown Nolita neighborhood is filled with trees, rocks, picnic benches and the recorded ambient sounds of Central Park in spring. There are giant cushions and even a hammock, plus a baby elephant.
But the park will be gone by mid-February.
The rest of the year, the 200-year-old former police precinct is a stage for business that plays on the “pop-up” retail method mushrooming around the world in recent years: a quick presentation of a product, performance or personality, with no commitment to a lease or contract.
It’s usually set up in a mobile unit that can be assembled and disappear.
Some call it guerrilla retail. “You’re not stuck with a 10-year lease if the product doesn’t sell,” Daou says. “People are looking for novelty, off the beaten path, and this space tests the ‘legs’ of a business concept.”
The space was part of a police precinct in the late 1890s under New York Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who later became U.S. president.
But there’s nothing historic about what’s going on inside. On the contrary, it’s all the rage in retail.
Today in Seattle, S.F., and other major cities, activists are taking over one or several parking spaces and turning them into parks!
PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites city dwellers to transform metered parking spots into parks for the day. PARK(ing) Day in Seattle happens to fall on the first day of the [Seattle Design] Festival.
We’ll be partnering with the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) at their impromptu “park.” Drop by and join us in a Festival photo/design activity open to everyone.
SAM will also be offering an all-ages, hands-on artmaking activity; an artist-designed Cornhole game (bean bag toss); and a noon concert by James Whetzel, classically trained on the sarod and tabla.
More via the Seattle Design Festival, which is going on from the 16th until the 25th! The festival is also pretty relevant since its goal is to explore our environments, how we use them, and how to make them better.
I was able to go see the Seattle exhibit last year, but unfortunately am parked at work today, so go see it and report back. Last year they had lots of games and give aways, and maps featuring the many parks that are scattered around the Seattle metro area.
Check out some of the other Park(ing) Day Related articles:
PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.
It’s happening already in Australia, Japan, Korea, and for the first time ever, in China! Rebar is up bright and early for the first major PARK(ing) Day installation in Paris. And hundreds of you are preparing to please the public with your own PARKs across Europe, America and beyond.
Seattle held their event outside the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) downtown. One of the representatives from the Public Land Trust told me how the rotten economy has led people to hold more events outside in public places, from business picnics to yoga classes, raising awareness of all the public space Seattle has to offer and why it’s important to maintain these and add more. Hopefully people won’t forget that once the weather turns bad, or the economy turns good.
Here are some of the pictures I took at the Seattle event:
Hopefully the weather next year will be nicer and bring out more participants.
*If I missed any organizers, please leave their names in the comments and I’ll update this post. Thanks!