On Park(ing) Day, street parking can be repurposed into mini-public spaces and more. Courtesy photo

If you attended Portland’s Park(ing) Day last week, you got a glimpse of how public space could be used in a world without parking. Imperative to meeting our greenhouse reduction goals will be shifting some (or all) of our trips to other modes of travel — such as public transportation and biking. As we do this, our need for parking spaces will dwindle. Park(ing) Day explores the idea of what we might do with all of this extra public space, offering an opportunity to community organizations, businesses and residents to envision a world blooming with public art and green space in what was previously just a parking spot.

Park(ing) Day is an international event that happens on the third Friday of September every year! People across the world temporarily repurpose street parking spaces and turn them into parklets — or mini public spaces — in an attempt to reclaim urban space from cars. There are thousands of participants annually, with parklets being used for art, activism and play. The purpose of Park(ing) Day is to see what urban landscapes would look like if they did not revolve around cars. Instead of the urban monotony of street parking, these spaces could be used as gathering spots, public art displays, green space and more. The potential for parklets is endless, and could contribute to the vibrance, creativity and community feel of urban spaces.

Park(ing) Day began in 2005, when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, realized that parking spaces were relatively inexpensive pieces of real estate and didn’t have to be used solely for vehicle parking. Thus, a temporary parklet was put in San Francisco. This concept caught on and has been growing globally ever since.

Besides the parklets we have seen in Park(ing) Days of Portland’s Past, we have already seen street parking spaces put to better use. When restaurants began to reopen after COVID closures, we saw street parking spaces turn into outdoor dining spaces. These “streeteries” are a prime example of how we can repurpose parking spaces.

Interested in learning more about Park(ing) Day? Visit www.myparkingday.org for more history on Park(ing) Day, resources and articles about its importance, and a map of all the participating cities.

Electrify Everything! Reminder

The City of South Portland is providing rebates on electric vehicles, electric lawncare equipment, e-bikes, heating and cooling systems, and home weatherization through our Electrify Everything! program. Visit http://southportland.org/electrify to learn more about the program, see the current rebates, and apply!

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a GPCOG Resilience Corps Fellow serving in the Sustainability Office. She can be reached at mambroiggio@southportland.org

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