Sacramento will soon be transforming a dull parking lot into a bustling mini-park called Presley Park.
PARK(ing) Day this year will take place on Friday, Sept. 18th on the intersection of J Street and 20th Street in downtown Sacramento.
People will begin setting up at 6:30 a.m. and the event will continue until 6:00 p.m., with citizens and activists working together to transform ordinary parking spots into small community parks, complete with trees, grass, benches and music performers.
Rebar, a San Francisco art collective, created the annual national event in 2005. The event soon exploded across San Francisco and the rest of the country, with as many as 500 PARKs in over 100 cities on four continents last year.
Eric Fredericks began organizing Sacramento’s own PARK(ing) Day in September 2007. Around this time, 70 percent of Sacramento’s public land was dedicated to parking, while only 8 percent was allotted to parks.
“It’s amazing to think what you can do with all the space, when you consider that each parking space is about the size of a small bedroom,” Fredericks said. “The sheer quantity of parking spaces out there could be used for so much.“
PARK(ing) Day organizers are a group of environmentally-inclined people, meaning that the event is a non-commercial project with no formal sponsor. Citizens working on the project hope to promote environmental awareness and stir debate about current environmental issues, namely the use of public urban space.
“We stand at a singular time in history, where climatic changes demonstrate to us our profound and undeniable impact on the natural environment,” said Matthew Passmore, one of the founding artists of Rebar. “The system of trans-global capital has collapsed, leaving this is an incredibly opportune moment to rethink the way our cities are created and to re-examine whose values are served by the processes urban spatial formation.“
Volunteers helping to organize PARK(ing) Day hope to get across a similar message.
“A park constructed in a parking spot in the middle of a busy street is bound to attract attention. Hopefully it will also provoke people to think about their environment and how they interact with the space around them in a different way,” said Laura Rubin, an assistant planner of PARK(ing) Day.
In addition to promoting awareness, PARK(ing) Day will serve as a traffic calmer, encouraging less speeding and more respect for people sharing space.
Rubin said that based on last year’s success, it is likely that this year’s PARK(ing) Day will draw in a large crowd that can take away something meaningful from the event.
“I want people to realize how easy it is to build a sense of community with such a simple thing as a park,” said Rubin.
Fredericks encourages UC Davis students to set up a PARK(ing) Day event in Davis, and said it would be a good location because of its environmental and agricultural friendliness.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at email@example.com. XXX