Park(ing) Day 2011

September 16, 2011










Courtney Nush inside her Willy Wonka-themed parking spot.

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Metered parking spaces are really only designed for one thing…cars. But on Friday, three separate rows of meters were used for another purpose entirely. Park(ing) Day brought Phoenix residents out to rows of parking meters Downtown, where they set up some unique displays designed to get attention. 

Passing by Phoenix's city government buildings Friday morning was a little unusual.

Courtney Nush described her space. “We’re sitting on Washington Street, across the street from City Hall in Downtown Phoenix, in Wonka Park!” 

Nush’s Wonka Park, full of lollipops and golden eggs, was just one of the ways people repurposed a row of meters on Washington between Second and Third Avenues; and, on two other downtown streets.

It was all part of Park(ing) Day 2011, which encourages people to turn parking spaces into mini public parks. Park(ing) Day has become an international event, but it started in San Francisco in 2005. Artist Matthew Passmore is one of its founders.

“Park(ing) Day is really about provoking a conversation, a way of thinking critically about how urban space is used, and also encouraging people to act to make some permanent changes," said Passmore.

Ivonne Ward was sitting in a minimalist space; just two chairs and a vase.

“I just think that is a nice little reminder for people that we could use a lot more public spaces, and all the different things that you can do in public space," Ward said. "It’s nice, and I don’t think we have enough of that in Phoenix.”

Even though there’s a message behind the madness, participants in Phoenix had plenty of fun. Some of the mini-parks included a croquet game, piano players…and it was hard to miss the mock Catholic confessional booth, where you could profess your environmental sins to Mother Nature and ask for absolution. Even the Dixie Devils band was there as a wake up call for bewildered passers-by.

For more information on Park(ing) Day, click here.