As Miami's population booms, the debate about parking only gets more contentious (just ask business owners in Wynwood). But what if we were a city who needed fewer parking spots, thus freeing up more public space? What would we do with it? How would our sense of community change?
These questions are the domain of PARK(ing) Day, a global event on Friday, September 19, when metered parking spots are turned into mini-parks. This year, ten parking spots (mainly in downtown Miami) will be transformed into engaging pop-up parks, all to challenge the status quo of how we're using public street space.
This is Miami's second consecutive run with PARK(ing) Day. Last year, Urban Impact Lab stepped up to help organize participation. They launched two parks (in three parking spaces) in downtown, and this year the number has grown to ten, including one in Little Havana.
"One of the things we've been mindful of -- we don't want it to be perceived as something organized by or solely the domain of Urban Impact Lab," says Marta Viciedo of the Lab. "We want people to realize that this is for everybody to participate in -- we want to call on more partners, more people."
This year, Urban Impact Lab has helped organize the ten parks along with partners including Whereby.Us, the Miami Foundation, Miami Arts Charter, Florida Atlantic University's School of Urban Planning, Radical Partners, and others.
They also have support from the Miami Parking Authority and Miami-Dade County Parks Department.
As far as what's in store, this year's parks will feature places to lounge; a fresh market, a giant, interactive poetry book by the kids at Miami Arts Charter (their space is cleverly named, All Booked Up) and more. Urban Impact Lab's own space will feature giant Jenga, giant Connect Four and giant Tic Tac Toe. The idea is all about engagement.
Next year, Viciedo hopes to see it expand even more. "We would love to see 100 parks across Miami-Dade County," she says. "We want a lot of people saying, 'This is our space -- this is our public space. We want to be able to envision it and design it and have a say in what happens.' In many ways this is civic engagement in a different way."
Miami is up from two to ten in one year, but Viciedo and team want to see Miamians from far and wide take ownership of the idea. For those who want to pop up their own parks in 2015, Urban Impact Lab can lend a hand.
In the meantime, park supporters can head out on September 19. Most of the spots will be downtown, but there are a couple elsewhere. Check out the PARK(ing) Day map for locations.
"It's a visual way of showing change rather than just talking about it -- that's what's powerful about it."
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You can find more info at ParkingDayMiami.com, on Facebook and Twitter. Check out a global map of all participating cities on the PARK(ing) Day website. If you're chatting via social media, the hashtag is #parkingdaymiami.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.