Make a Difference This PARK(ing) Day

Reader Contribution by Kellsey Trimble
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If you’ve had ideas pop into your head for improving your local urban infrastructure, take the opportunity to express them this PARK(ing) Day.

Rebar, an art and design studio in San Francisco, came up with this event, which encourages citizens to turn metered parking spaces into public parks on Sept. 20, 2013. (When someone feeds a meter, it essentially turns that parking spot into a public park for the duration of the paid time.) According to a press release from Rebar, “PARK(ing) Day invites people to rethink the way streets are used and promotes discussion around the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.”

In the same press release, Rebar principal Blaine Merker expresses his satisfaction with the success of PARK(ing) Day — an annual event since 2005. “What has been really gratifying is that PARK(ing) Day, which began as a guerrilla art project, has been adopted by cities and integrated into their official city planning strategies. A relatively modest art intervention has changed the way cities conceive, organize and use public space.”

PARK(ing) Day’s popularity has spread internationally. It offers activists and citizens a chance to come together and brainstorm ideas on how to improve urban living. “PARK(ing) Day is an ‘open-source’ project initiated by Rebar, but built by independent groups around the globe who adapt the project to advance creative, social or political causes that are relevant to their local urban conditions,” according to Matthew Passmore, co-founder of Rebar. Many groups even use the occasion to talk about a wide array of social needs they want to address.

In a National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2006, Matthew Passmore describes exactly what PARK(ing) Day is all about: “We’re going to roll up with our team of bicyclists, unroll some sod, set down a tree, put down a couple park benches, feed the meter and open the park to the public. And we’ll have signage inviting the public to put quarters in the meter if they’d like to extend the life of the park.”

You can come together this PARK(ing) Day with like-minded people and discuss your ideas on changes you’d like to see happen to local infrastructure. So set up camp in the nearest parking space, feed the meter and invite others to participate.

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