PARK(ing) Day invites participants to rethink urban land use

Participants in PARK(ing) Day Friday will convert parking spots into public spaces in an attempt to "take back" the spots as a community. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

Community artists, activists, citizens and students will take over parking spaces around downtown Phoenix Friday as part of a global event designed to make a political statement about urban land use.

Participants will use their quarters to transform parking spaces into temporary public parks and other social spaces for hours in an event called “PARK(ing) Day.”

“Participants are encouraged to be creative and to think big,” said Stacey Champion, event coordinator for the PARK(ing) Day event. Champion said she plans on using her space to give out free hugs.

Phoenix PARK(ing) Day will take place in 3 different areas in downtown Phoenix, including two morning events and one evening event.

The two morning events will be held from 7 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. and take place simultaneously.

One of the events will be at the parking meters on the south side of Washington Street between Second and Third avenues while the other will be held at the parking meters on the east side of Second Street between Taylor and Filmore streets to engage the ASU downtown campus students.

The evening event will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and will be geared toward the Roosevelt Row art community.

The Roosevelt Row location will be at the parking meters on Fifth Street, between Garfield and McKinley streets.

Edward Jensen, a downtown Phoenix advocate and ASU alumnus, is attending his second PARK(ing) Day event by performing at the Washington Street Park in the morning.

“PARK(ing) Day is a political statement about land use and taking back public spaces from cars and returning them to people,” Jensen said. “It affects us all by forcing us to choose what we as a community want — do we want to be people-friendly or car-friendly.”

Danielle Chavez, a junior at the Walter Cronkite School and the director of public relations for Downtown student government, will be attending PARK(ing) Day for the first time with the student government body.

The Downtown student government’s theme will be an old-fashioned lemonade stand and it will be passing out cold lemonade to passerby’s, she said.

“I’m very excited to join the community for the event, as is the rest of USGD,” said Chavez.

Various community assistants from Taylor Place as well as students from Barrett, the Honors College will also have parking spaces, Chavez said.

Created in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day invites people to rethink the way streets are used.

“Urban inhabitants worldwide recognize the need for new approaches to making cities,” Rebar co-founder Matthew Passmore said in a press release.

Twentieth century city planning strategies have led to traffic congestion, pollution and poor health in cities everywhere, said Passmore in the press release, noting that those strategies do not reflect contemporary values and are not sustainable.

“PARK(ing) Day raises these issues and demonstrates that even temporary projects can improve the character and quality of the city,” Passmore said.

PARK(ing) Day has grown larger since its 2010 version, growing by more than 800 “PARK” installations in more than 180 cities on six continents.

The first metered parking space modeled by Rebar was a basic “tree-bench-sod” park.

In recent years, participants have built free health clinics, planted temporary urban farms, produced ecology demonstrations, held political seminars, built art installations, opened free bike repair shops and even held a wedding ceremony.

Contact the reporter at kendra.yost@asu.edu