Started in 2005 by San Francisco public space activist group Rebar, Park(ing) Day is a grassroots, unscripted opportunity for anybody to temporarily take over a car parking space and turn it into a place for people to gather (feeding the meter of course) — whether a sod park, a picnic table, or a miniature cardboard village. Participants often include activist groups, architecture firms, and creative professional offices.
This year, the biggest participation in our region is by regional government body Metro, which, in conjunction with dozens of groups and businesses, is seizing the occasion to kick off its new initiative, the Intertwine, Metro’s name for the region’s entire park and trail network (we covered its formation here).
The Intertwine, and the organization and business alliance that has been launched along with it, aims to create and promote natural urban areas and to redefine how we see public space.
Having lain down sod to create parking-spot sized green spaces, Metro is inviting the public out to enjoy the streets in ways that normally aren’t possible. These parks will temporarily transform places that are usually used for storing private cars into public spaces for anyone to come and enjoy.
A full list (and map) of today’s Park(ing) spaces is available here. Locations range from downtown Portland to Gresham to Beaverton.
In case you can’t make it to a local Park(ing) spot, here’s a StreetFilms-eye view of last year’s Park(ing) spots in NYC:
Park(ing) Day isn’t an official holiday, but who knows — with US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a national “Livability Tour” to learn about how cities can become better places for all to live and get around, it does seem that parks may soon begin to take precedence over parking.
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com