Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A PARK(ing) Day Do-It-Yourself Manual

PARK(ing) Day is Friday. No, I didn't spell it wrong. In 2005, a design firm took over a parking space for 2 hours. They fed the meter, but instead of parking a vehicle, they laid down sod and turned the spot into a public park.

Now (from the website) "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...PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals...creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world... Paying the meter of a parking space enables one to lease precious urban real estate on a short-term basis. The PARK(ing) project was created to explore the the range of possible activities for this short-term lease, and to provoke a critical examination of the values that generate the form of urban public space."

This Friday, Montgomery County and Norristown Municipality are taking over parking spaces on Main in front of the Courthouse. Here are things I find myself wondering about that: Will they pay the kiosk for their time? What will they do if someone's already parked in the spaces? Or will they spend tax money putting up No Parking signs to reserve the spaces for themselves? That goes against the whole point of the event. You're supposed to find an empty space--it's not supposed to be easy. Reserving the spaces is cheating.

It's also not supposed to be a government event, but totally grassroots. Montgomery County Planning Commission put an event on Facebook as if they're hosting the event. Norristown's Facebook page says their space "will feature Local Artists & Art Organizations, walking tours of the Philadelphia Museum of Art ‪#‎InsideOut‬ program! The event takes place on Main Street in front of Montgomery County Courthouse in conjunction with GVF, Montgomery County Planning Commission and others! Stop down between 9am-2pm."

I can picture a Dragon Boat in a space. 
This is wrong. The event is anytime Friday that anyone can find a space in an urban setting (in Norristown, figure anywhere downtown or on West Marshall where there are metered spaces). If you find a free space, you can use that parking space for the length of time that you feed the meter. You don't need the government's permission as long as you follow the law in every other way.

So think about it. How would you turn a parking space into a public park? If you decide to transform a parking space on your own, let me know. I'll come by to take a photo and help you feed the meter.

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