Eighth annual Park(ing) Day celebrates public space downtown

One of the many mini parks occupying a parking spot at the eighth annual Park(ing) Day. (Brianna Bradley/DD)

The eighth annual Park(ing) Day brought together local bands, organizations and community members in front of the Phoenix courthouse on Washington Street between First and Second avenues on Friday.

Stacey Champion, organizer of this event since its inception, said the concept was created by a design firm in San Francisco called Rebar a couple of years before bringing it to Phoenix.

Champion said Park(ing) Day is intended to bring awareness to the use of urban green space in Phoenix. She said since they started Parking Day Phoenix eight years ago, Phoenix has come a long way.

“It’s simply a day for people to re-imagine how we use our public spaces,” Champion said. “When we started this event we had two tiny parks with maybe like 10 people total when nothing was really happening down here.”

This year 11 different parks were included in the event, which ran from 7 to 10 in the morning. The parks organizers included local community groups and organizations, such as Arizona Opera with their Opera Park, Lawn Gnome Publishing with their Library Park and Civic Engagement park hosted by Asian Pacific Community in Action

Champion said even small green public spaces can help create community in an urban core. Phoenix implemented a parklet program a few years ago which “came out of us poking,” Champion said. Parklets are seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces, according to the City’s website.  

Asian Pacific Communities in Action participated in its first year at Park(ing) Day.

“We are here building a civic engagement park because our health and our votes are very important,” Lloyd Y. Asato, Executive Director of APCA said. The organization worked to help register people to vote and get on the early voting list.

Layal Rabat, empowerment and advocacy manager for APCA, said the organization is trying to make voting more fun than it already is and trying to get young people engaged in voting.

“It’s a really fun and inspiring way to participate with the community,” Rabat said. “It’s just another way to express ourselves and to show the community that there is a larger community out there that they can get in touch with.”

Pinnacle Prevention, a health-focused nonprofit firm, was also in attendance at Parking Day for the first time.

Pinnacle Prevention specializes in healthy eating and active living services. “We are here promoting local food systems,” Adrienne Udarbe, Pinnacle Prevention Executive Director said. “We are very excited to be here because this aligns exactly with what our organization represents.”

Corrections: September 19, 2016:

An earlier version of this story misidentified Stacey Champion as the sponsor of Park(ing) Day. It has been updated to show her correct title as organizer of the event.

An earlier version of this story also had a photo caption that incorrectly associated Midwives Rising with the park shown. It has been updated to show they were not involved.

Contact the reporter at brianna.bradley@asu.edu.