Watch where you park on Friday in Portland. That rockstar spot in front of your favorite cafe may be sporting astroturf, lounge chairs, palm trees and humans!
(Park)ing Day descends on Portland for the third time to help people “rethink how they look at public space,” says Sarah Schindler, who spearheads the Portland portion of the world-wide movement.
Starting in San Francisco in 2005, (Park)ing Day is a reclamation of public space by artists, designers and the average Joe. This form of DIY urbanism, where “people create the city they want to see from the ground up,” turns parking spots into parklets from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “The idea is how do we use our streets and what do we want for our streets?,'” asks Schindler.
And how many quarters does it take to feed the meter all day?
This year the city is on board and the event has blossomed from six pop-up parks to 14. There will be a bike corral and planters in front of the Speckled Ax coffee house on Congress Street, The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is operating a bicycle-powered milkshake machine where you’d normally see an SUV, and a handful of other spots across the city will shock and awe pedestrians.
“Some people will be surprised by it, they will walk out and see a park where they expect to see a parking spot,” said Schindler, a lawyer who specializes in public land use. “The goal is to get people to look at public transportation differently.”
In some cities like Boston, (Park)ing Day has lead to permanent parklets funded by businesses.
There is a tie-in to the debate surrounding Congress Square Park, said Schindler, who urges residents to view this event as more than a stunt and examine the growing pains of a burgeoning city.
“Portland is facing a lot of development pressure now. We are seeing new condos go in on the hill and homes being listed for four times what they might have been. We need to be thinking about what effect that has on open space.”
Someone sign her up for City Manager!