Park[ing] Day

By Sarah Titcomb & Andrea Mojzak

Around the world, September 18 marked PARK(ing) day. This is an international event where residents, artists, planners, architects, and designers work together to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into small urban parks and open spaces. And here in the Puget Sound region, we couldn't help but participate.

Nowadays, most public right-of-ways in our cities are devoted to private automobiles. And the goal of PARK(ing) Day is to show residents the value of open spaces in an urban setting as well as expose existing opportunities to participate and create more open spaces within the public right-of-way. Our partners – Forterra and the National Park Service – were some of the many organizations to come out and participate in this year’s event.

In 2011, Forterra partnered with the City of Seattle to create the Tree Ambassador program – a resident volunteer program aimed at education, outreach, and action to improve Seattle’s urban forest.  And for Forterra, creating a mini urban forest for PARK(ing) day was a fun way to disseminate the urban forestry message that Seattle resident’s should be hearing more about – and proved to be a successful way to reach new audiences. 

This year’s effort was funded by a service agreement with Seattle’s reLeaf program and Forterra was excited for the opportunity to bring previous experience with PARK(ing) day to this year’s event. The parklet was staffed and supported by urban forestry professionals, many from City of Seattle departments, including arborists from City Light and SDOT and staff from Seattle Public Utilities and the Office of Sustainability and Environment. The mini forest mirrored the Georgetown neighborhood in order to highlight the upcoming Arbor Day at Oxbow Park as well as nearby parks participating in Green Seattle Day. Nearly 100 people stopped by the park to learn about upcoming events, tree care, and tree identification. 

This year marked Seattle’s biggest PARK(ing) Day celebration to date, with over 50 permitted pop-up parks across the city – including bike lanes, art, and urban farming installations.

This annual, one day event first began in San Francisco, California in 2005, and is now a global movement that’s sparked the popular parklet and streatery programs found in Seattle and elsewhere. Mark your calendar now and start gathering your fun ideas for the next PARK(ing) Day in early September 2016.


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