Downtown parking gets its ninth annual makeover

Parking Day allows businesses and community members to fill parking spots with creative and meaningful displays.(Dominique Ziegler/DD)
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Metered parking spaces were transformed into temporary parks in Phoenix to provide different ways to use public spaces.

The ninth annual Phoenix Parking Day took place downtown on Washington Street, between First and Second avenues Friday.

Stacey Champion, the organizer of Phoenix Parking Day and owner of Champion PR and Consulting, has set up this event for the past nine years.

“It’s a worldwide one-day event for people to reimagine how we use our public space and if we use our public space for people first,” Champion said. “So we basically transform metered parking spaces into ‘parklets.’ ”

The event started at 7 a.m. and continued until 10 a.m.

The “parklets” were used in a variety of different ways, including as a lemonade stand park and a social spin laundromat park.

“We do it early in the morning here because it’s still really hot. And it always takes place on the third Friday of September every year,” Champion said.

There were about 10 spaces this year reserved for people to decorate and use to raise awareness about specific topics.

Jessie Gruner, 28, and Adrienne Udarbe, 39, chose to transform a parking space into an informational area. Their park was ‘Farm where you are’, which was meant to show people that public parks should be used to grow or sell food.

“This is our second year actually; we’re with Pinnacle Prevention, which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on food systems and active living,” Udarbe said. “So Parking Day aligns with our mission of what we think communities should be. We think that it should be less cars, more people, green spaces.”

Gruner and Udarbe were among many other companies in attendance. However, the main goal was to bring public recognition, not advertise businesses.

“This is great for building public awareness about the importance of green space,” Udarbe said.

ASU students were also present at the event, including Argenis Hurtado, 24, who was there to promote his research on immigrants’ impact on the city of Phoenix.

Hurtado has been focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients for about a year as a part of his thesis with ASU.

“We actually are from ASU West, and we are just doing Visualizing Immigrant Phoenix, which is an independent research project that we have. And what we are doing is just kind of visualizing the contributions of migrants in the city,” Hurtado said.

The DACA park had chairs to spark conversation and to leave the space open for discussion. This park was specifically relevant to President Trump’s recent announcement to end the DACA program.

“It’s bittersweet that because of that it’s more relevant, but it’s better late than never to have…this attention focused on this issue,” Hurtado said.

Along with ASU students in attendance, many people were taking pictures of the parks and asking questions.

One bystander, Manuel Mendoza, 27, was waiting outside when he saw the event happening.

“I asked somebody what they were doing, I was just curious about it, and they said that they were doing that because it should be fine for people to be able to do stuff like this, not for cars,” Mendoza said.

Every park was free to see and the people participating were willing to strike up a conversation about their parks. The parks drew the attention of many passersby, including drivers on the road who pulled over to get more information.

The event indicated that city parking spaces can be used to bring awareness to how important having a green space is to socialize and thrive.

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