PARK(ing) Day 2014, Here We Come!

PARK(ing) Day is coming!  Last year, Urban Impact Lab worked with a few local organizations to set up two spaces in Downtown Miami.  This year, we have an impressive list of collaborators and are up to ten spaces in the downtown and Brickell area, adding great mini-PARKs on Friday, Sept 19, 2014.  

The PARK(ing) spot that started it all, circa 2005.  A Rebar production.

The PARK(ing) spot that started it all, circa 2005.  A Rebar production.

SO WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH PARK(ing) DAY?

It all started in San Francisco with a design firm called Rebar.  On the third Friday of September 2005, the good folks at Rebar pulled up (figuratively) to a street parking spot, paid the meter, unrolled the grass and set out a bench.  

Their point:  for just a few dollars, a metered parking space can host a car that will just sit there or be a mini-park that invites people to interact in a fresh way with their urban surroundings.  

In no time, PARK(ing) Day caught on in cities around the world.  For the last few years 200 cities in 35 countries have participated in imagining and creating new, temporary, mini-parks, and it’s only growing.  South Florida is no exception to that.  Locally, Miami has seen just a couple PARKs pop up over the years, sometimes in Downtown, once in Coconut Grove, but never in large enough numbers to drum up big collaborations and attention.  That is, until now.  

Miami PARK(ing) Day 2013

Miami PARK(ing) Day 2013

This year, PARK(ing) Day will include some great partners and sponsors such as:  Miami Dade County Parks Dept, The Miami Foundation, Whereby.us, Radical Partners, Miami Arts Charter, The AO Insight, Cabin Fever, Little Havana artists, Miami Center for Architecture and Design, among others.  Not least of all one of our biggest supporters is the Miami Parking Authority who is instrumental in helping us make this happen.  

THE WHO’S AND HOW’S OF MAKING A PARK(ing) SPOT

Pretty much any person, group or organization can make a PARK for the day.  The entire initiative challenges community members to view parking space as what they are in their simplest form, ie public space, and then reimagine the spot into a place for people.  

Miami PARK(ing) Day 2013

Miami PARK(ing) Day 2013

This can happen in a variety of ways.  PARK(ing) spots can be a simple green space with faux grass, a bench, some shade and a few plants.  They can get fancier:  design and architecture firms build installations out of recycled wood, or mailing tubes or even plastic bottles.  Some folks set up a mini gym, while others offer meditation.  You’ll find play spaces, mini bike paths, lemonade stands and mini urban gardens.  Some spaces are highly interactive, while others offer a serene oasis.  

Securing the spaces is different from city to city.  In the City of Miami, we’ve chosen to work with the parking authority to make the day as inclusive as possible.  In other cities, participants simply pay the meter and occupy the space -- which is basically what a car would do.  Some groups get permits where necessary.  Very often, PARK(ing) Day starts off small, with a couple of spaces and both city officials and community members enjoy the experience which then allows for greater flexibility and interest in the next go around. That’s very much like the experience we’ve had in Miami.  

Ideally, the PARK(ing) spot will be in a metered, on-street space that has fair to high pedestrian traffic and visibility.  A lack of green space in the area provides a great conversation and rallying point.  Some folks take several parking spaces in a row to make a bigger mini-park.  We prefer to take up no more than two because we want people to actually see it as an do-able concept for better urban space beyond just one day. Essentially, we try to make it as close to a realizable and implementable long term application/solution as possible.  As an example, one great PARK(ing) Day spot can be the catalyst to implementing more parklets under the City of Miami’s parklet program.  

PARK(ing) DAY 2014

Parkingday.com offers some great tools, ideas, and resources for creating PARK(ing) Day installations.  Participants can add their site to a map and connect with others in the area through the handy DIY Networking tool.   Even the site’s FAQ section provides great insight and ideas for creating PARKs.  If you’re interested in creating a PARK(ing) Day spot in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Urban Impact Lab is happy to answer questions, connect you with the right people, and help get the process going.  Happy PARK(ing)!