We were very lucky to be in San Francisco around (Park)ing Day this year. On Friday September 21st 2012, the whole city was covered with small pop up parks celebrating public space and reclaiming the city back!
What’s (Park)ing day?
(Park)ing day is an annual worldwide event where the participants transform a metered parking space into a temporary park. People get very creative with their spaces, inviting everyone to come join them! It’s an annual intervention just like our very own Green the Grey, or Horsh Beirut, all over Beirut. It’s a movement that started in 2005 as a call for more public space in urban planning. For more pictures from this year’s events, follow this link: http://bit.ly/SkeffS
As read on their website, “the mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”
(Park)ing day, and then what?
The most interesting thing about this day, is what we discovered later while we were wandering around. (Park)ing day started 7 years ago, and eventually, it led to the formation of a coalition working to make these spaces permanent. As we were walking in Mission District checking out the pop up parks, we were guided (thank you Jumana!) to visit the permanent version of those parks: The parklets!
Parklets are small parks made by converting parking spaces into public spaces for all to enjoy. Parklets are part of a growing movement to rethink public space. Last friday, Dublin saw the opening of its first parklet, and so did Oakland!
The typical parklet consists of a platform made of wood sit flush with the sidewalk and usually includes seating and greenery. They serve as outdoor green public spaces.
So how does it work? A parklet is usually built on public parking space and done with the consent of the shop owner in front of the curb. It’s a public space and open to everyone, so it benefits the citizen and the shop owner at the same time. It could be removed, if need be, so it’s easier to approach the municipality and ask for its creation!
We even passed by the first parklet built by an individual!
Despite some possible difficulties, we think the parklet solution could be easily applied in Beirut for the creation of more public space. What do you think? What do you think would be the difficulties or barriers?
Next September on (Park)ing day 2013, where will you park it?
Read more about (PARK)ing day and parklets here: