Tiny Park, Big Idea
Group transforms parking spaces into parkland.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
On any given day, Alvarado is a one-way concrete street framed by the metallic glow of parked cars. One local organization, Orange Poppy Productions, visualizes Alvarado Street as more than a car receptacle. On Friday, Sept. 19, the group plans to participate in National Park(ing) Day, an activist holiday that replaces asphalt with patches of green. Their strategy is as cute as it is eye-catching: They will replace a parking space with a pocket-sized public park.
Tracy Parker, local environmental designer and organizer, believes the day will inspire a more sustainable future. “All vibrant cities and towns have green spaces and gathering places downtown where locals and tourists can gather and linger. We envision assembling a temporary green space where we can promote a future downtown that better integrates ecology and urban infrastructure.”
Orange Poppy Productions isn’t alone. Activists all over the country will take over parking spaces to create areas on Friday. Normally, Park(ing) Day organizers “occupy” those parking spaces by feeding the meter all day. Because Monterey lacks parking meters, organizers had to seek city approval– and got more than they bargained for. Not only did Mayor Chuck Della Sala approve the idea, but he gave Park(ing) Day prime real estate: two spaces in front of Golden State Theatre.
Hans Uslar, deputy public works director, was pleased. “[Public Works is] working to promote a greener Monterey,” he says. “Part of that vision is bringing alternative options to public attention.”
Park(ing) Day on Alvarado Street will last all day, according to Parker. Supporters hope that Monterey will see pure green potential. “Park(ing) Day is a presentation that really brings to light what is actually possible with space,” Uslar says. “It’s a way to bring attention to a new way of thinking.”