Did you see Alameda’s first-ever “parklet” in front of Tucker’s Ice Cream on Park Street Friday?
The parklet–the first one in an Alameda business district–was designed to reclaim and repurpose some asphalt for the 12 hours of International PARK(ing) Day(IPD) on Friday, September 21.
And it worked.
You can see more photos here of the two-parking-space project, which BikeAlameda board member, new media instructor, and mom Donna Eyestone initiated last year. Alameda parent, Planning Board Vice-president, and architect David Burton, designed the parklet. Burton is also the Chair of Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA).
Planning Board member, dad, and former Transportation Commission Chair John Knox White and many others helped out. Local materials were donated by BikeAlameda, CASA, The Reuse People, Urban Island Home Furnishings, and Ploughshares Nursery at Alameda Point,
The biggest star of the show, however, was Ruby, one of Donna Eyestone’s Rhode Island Reds, proudly representing the famous Alameda Backyard Chickens. (They were featured in BikeAlameda’s May 6 Alameda Backyard Chicken Coops Tour.)
While I was there Friday afternoon most of the pedestrians walking past the parklet stopped, asked about it, sat on the bench, enjoyed coffee or ice cream, admired the plants–or discussed Ruby, Donna’s “best-behaved” chicken-in-residence.
The parklet literally enlivened Park Street, adding something pleasant and unexpected that created connections–a community. Prominent and active Alamedans and city staffers stopped by, a family watched the goings-on from the open-air window seating at Tucker’s, and John Knox White shared the photo he took from the parklet at about 10:15 Friday morning of the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s flyover,
International PARK(ing) Day (IPD) began in San Francisco in 2005, when Rebar, “an interdisciplinary studio working at the intersection of art, design and ecology,” took over a downtown parking space for just two hours–the limit on the parking meter. Photos of the event went viral across the web and International PARK(ing) Day was born. Rebar “creates projects that inspire people to reimagine the environment and our place in it,“and is a major player and resource for the Park(ing) Day movement, even publishing a PARK(ing) Day Manual, in which Rebar asks:
“What is the range of possibilities for creativity in a space usually dedicated to the storage of a private vehicle?”
Rebar provides a bit of an answer:
“Motivated by the desire to activate the metered parking space as a site for creative experimentation, political and cultural expression, and unscripted social interaction, Rebar offers PARK(ing) Day as a prototype for open-source urban design, accessible to all… thousands of people around the globe—working independently of Rebar but guided by common core principles—have created hundreds of “PARK” installations and formed an annual international event.
Urban inhabitants worldwide recognize the need for new approaches to making the urban landscape, and realize that converting small segments of the automobile infrastructure—even temporarily—can alter the character of the city.”
Take a look across the bay at this year’s San Francisco PARK(ing) Day. Check out “Our Favorites from Today’s PARK(ing) Day Extravaganza,” from sf.curbed.com. Or check out Brisbane, Australia’s wildly successful five-year history with PARK(ing) Day. You can also see how Salesforce.com transformed Howard Street into a block-long parklet during Dreamforce X all week long at San Francsco’s Moscone Center. too.
In 2011, 975 parks were created to celebrate PARK(ing) Day in 162 cities spanning 35 countries on 6 continents. (The City of Alameda could not approve Donna Eyestone’s last-minute permit application quickly enough for an Alameda IPD event last year.)
This year was better: the City of Alameda approved Donna Eyestone’s permit to create something different in two parking spaces in front of Tucker’s Ice Cream, Alameda’s iconic ice cream parlor and social hub.
Donna, her chicken, and a host of supporters challenged the auto-dominated uses of Park Street Friday, re-imagining what can be done with a basic asphalt-covered urban space.
How can we re-imagine Alameda’s urban spaces and ways of moving?
What creative changes have you helped bring about?
(Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.)
Look for more about bicycling, walking, BART, AC Transit, driving, and transportation issues in this space, coming soon.
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