Valley Permaculture Alliance brings community, sustainability awareness to pop-up park

The Valley Permaculture Alliance held its annual mesquite pancake breakfast at the Space Between pop-up park, between ASU's Taylor Place Residence Hall and Valley Youth Theatre. (Craig Johnson/DD)

The Valley Permaculture Alliance held its annual mesquite pancake breakfast at the Space Between pop-up park Sunday to promote sustainable living and the use of community space.

The Space Between park was an ideal spot for the event because of its location, said Christopher Friesen, Valley Permaculture Alliance ambassador.

“We wanted something central so that the whole Valley could come in and take part,” he said.

The zero-waste breakfast included mesquite flour pancakes, organic eggs and potatoes and clean chicken sausage. Those who attended were encouraged to bring their own plates and silverware.

The Phoenix-based, nonprofit-environmental organization works to encourage sustainable practices and urban living.

“We exist to help spread and share permaculture valley principles to the community at large,” Friesen said.

Ray Cabrera, streetscape programs manager for Downtown Phoenix Inc., said in the last nine months the park has been open, it has positively impacted the community. He said it is always an accomplishment when publicly owned, vacant land can be turned into a space of active use.

“That’s a win, not just for us, but for the community at large,” he said.

Though the park is a temporary space, Cabrera said the city of Phoenix does not have any set plans for redevelopment.

However, ASU has an agreement with the city of Phoenix that if the need for more student housing arises, they have the opportunity for redevelopment.

“But there isn’t any timeline of that,” Cabrera said. “We’re doing as best as we can by making sure that we’re having an outdoor amenity until that day comes up.”

During the park’s construction, Downtown Phoenix Inc. partnered with the city of Phoenix to salvage mature trees that were planted in the parking lot where the new ASU law school is going.

“We got a lot of donated wood and pallets that was used to box the trees or make great benches and other furniture,” Cabrera said.

The construction of the park did not impact the land foundation, Cabrera said.

“We did move some dirt around and we added some concrete in order to give it a little bit of a finished vibe,” he said.

Cabrera said he hopes to add more activities to the park such as badminton and other games that promote an active lifestyle.

“Any kind of activities that can get more people out and using the facility is on our radar,” he said.

Aimee Williamson, executive director of Valley Permaculture Alliance, worked closely with Cabrera and Downtown Phoenix Inc. during the park’s construction process.

“I always envisioned seeing the space activated and getting people to really utilize it,” she said.

Williamson said she approached Downtown Phoenix Inc. about the idea of hosting the event at the park and they were willing to accommodate.

The city of Phoenix and Downtown Phoenix Inc. are continuously working together to activate temporary open spaces around the city, Cabrera said.

“We’re happy to just keep promoting the things that we’re doing at the park,” Williamson said.