Celebrate Public Space on PARK(ing) Day

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Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington September 20, 2018

Katy Lang was previously Program Director for Active Transportation. She started living car-free in Arlington in 2010 and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking and biking.

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What do you imagine for your public space? How can communities define and re-define public spaces to better serve people? International PARK(ing) Day is one way to celebrate public space.

Public space improves our quality of life and is important for economic vitality and local identity. From ancient plazas to today’s farmer’s markets and streets, access to quality public space is a key part of the human experience. Public space is where we meet and freely interact with one another. It provides openness in our crowded cities and may also give us greenery and nature, access to amenities, and enjoyable art.

Placemaking is how communities interact to define, shape, and make shared public space for themselves. But we know that our cities are crowded and space can be sparse, so where can we do this placemaking? How can we create meaningful, community-based public spaces with limited resources?

Creating Public Space with Parking Spaces

In 2005, a group of people took over a parking space near their building and turned it into a mini-park. The idea grew from there, and now PARK(ing) Day exists as an international, yearly celebration with a mission which 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.

What Happens on PARK(ing) Day?

People take over parking spaces normally reserved for parked cars and turn them into whatever they think their city wants or needs—gardens, shaded seating, games, and spaces for social interaction.

PARK(ing) Day lets us rethink how we would use our valuable, and limited, publicly-owned space. While on-street parking certainly has its place in how a city functions, it’s clear that taking over metered parking spaces on PARK(ing) Day has captured the imagination of residents, businesses, and government officials. The parks have been immensely creative, reflecting the desires and whims of activists, residents, and local businesses—everything from extra seating to blow-up figurines to giant lawn games to mini-golf has been done in a parking space park.

When PARK(ing) Day installations are successful, sometimes they are converted into permanent public spaces like the parklet in Rosslyn, which opened in May 2018 and extends the sidewalk with tables, chairs, and plants.

Celebrate in Arlington

PARK(ing) Day 2019 is Friday, September 20! Parking spots all across the region will be turned into fun public spaces for all to enjoy. So, step outside on your lunch break, meet up with friends, or pause and relax to experience creative and engaging parking spaces.

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Post updated September 2019.

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