Guerrilla community activism: create your own green space on Park(ing) Day

Had a chance to watch HIGH LINE STORIES yet? If so, you’ve witnessed not only how abandoned infrastructure can be transformed into useful green space, but also how community activists, officials, and even celebrities can come together and organize a project of this magnitude. The contributions of all players provide a model for empowering other budding change agents.

But what if you simply don’t have the time, or other resources, to spearhead an effort like the High Line? Creating change in your community doesn’t have to involve months or years of full-time work… in fact, it may be as simple as claiming a parking space.

That’s the idea behind Park(ing) Day, an initiative created by San Francisco-based art collective Rebar in 2005. The premise is simple: on a single day, citizens transform metered parking spaces into Park(ing) spaces, or “temporary public parks.” While these parks only last for a day, the idea is to get people discussing green space in their communities… and how parking is often a bigger priority than parks.

The idea’s caught on: Park(ing) Day groups now exist in towns and cities as diverse as Pittsburgh, PA, Lafayette, IN, Florence, Italy, and Brisbane, Australia; BIG IDEAS FOR A SMALL PLANET featured the Minneapolis’ event in its second season. All of these groups (and hopefully some new ones) are gearing up for the next Park(ing) Day on September 18, 2009.

Check out photos and videos of past Park(ing) Days at the event’s networking site. It’s a an “open source” initiative, so all ideas and contributions are welcome for bringing this activism event to new communities… and raising awareness of the need for community green space.

Image credit: Matthew Baker at Park(ing) Day Network