September 5, 2011

No Pavement Monday

The original Park (ing) Day temporary green space, Rebar, San Francisco (2005)
Imagine how different our cities would be if even a little bit of the space provided for cars, was taken back for green space. Even if it was just for a moment, it would be the beginning of a new way of thinking. Less car-centric, fast, and smothered, more calm and people oriented.

That is what Park (ing) Day is all about. This year, September 16th is the day to green up the pavement, one parking spot at a time.

"PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. 
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!"
The movement to take back the streets to create pop-up green space has been taken even further by individuals thinking of new ways to stretch the green envelope. Take, for example, the Chicago Pop-Up Park.

3,000 sq ft, a whole block of grey city street, was covered over by soft, green sod. For the following four hours the community took back the street, took their shoes off, and enjoyed the sense of the natural and each other. Then the cars took back their domain.

Chicago Pop-Up Park
San Francisco, birthplace of Park (ing) Day, has recently made the concept a more permanent affair. This coastal city is one of the most densely populated, and in the built-out core, green space comes at a premium.

Enter the 'parkmobiles', bright-red dumpsters, 16 feet long by nearly 6 feet wide and filled with greenery and a bench to sit on.

These parklets are mobile and will be moved every few months to a new location in need of green space - any green space. I am certain that just looking at them when you pass by has beneficial effects such as stress-reduction. Really going for it, and sitting down for a while could make your whole day.

Tiny park in San Francisco, LA Times
Imagine personal automobiles falling out of favour with the general pubic. Imagine renewed green grids, and flowing rivers of life replacing sterile paved-over streets and highways.

Green space would provide habitat and wildlife corridors for a host of creatures, would provide atmosphere-cleansing services, not to mention a sanctuary for the hundreds of millions of stressed out city-dwellers everywhere.

Streets are for people. Let's start converting some of that black top to a green oasis. Celebrate Park (ing) Day, September 16, 2011. Take a moment and enjoy a pop-up park in your town.

Or better yet, create one yourself and host a bunch of weary pavement pounders suffering from nature-deficit disorder. What if a bird, or squirrel came to your park? Whoever, or whatever comes, I am sure they would be appreciative.

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