NEW YORK—Open green public spaces where people could spend a few minutes of their precious time to relax, chat, and play a board game or two sporadically sprung up in the city Friday afternoon. International Park(ing) Day is an annual initiative that has been taking place on September 20th around the world for the past eight years.
“It’s amazing,” said Aleksandra Bielska who’s visiting New York with her friend Beata Frankowicz from Poland. The two were sitting and chatting on the green turf at the corner of Montefiore Park in Harlem.
“I’m really surprised about this, it’s really good,” Frankowicz said. Her friend Bielska had not encountered a Park(ing) space before, and thinks it would be a good idea to set it up in Warsaw, where she now lives.
Rebar, a San Francisco company initiated international Park(ing) Day. It is a design studio that brings together art and ecology to create public spaces that encourage human interaction, and a sense of community.
In 2005 the Rebar group dropped some coins into a parking meter and temporarily transformed a parking spot with some turf, a tree and a bench. San Francisco is known to lack open public space, according to Park(ing) Day.
Little did they know, someone had snapped a shot of the public open space and circulated it Online. Soon, the company began getting requests to stage a mini-park in other cities. The company dubbed the event Park(ing) Day and the event is now celebrated in 162 cities around the world.
Another visitor of the public open space, Emma Reynosa, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, stopped by with her niece to learn about the initiative. She said that trying to create a healthy environment would be good for children in the area.
“It’s very valuable to do something for the community,” she said.
When co-leader of the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association, Barbara Nikonorow, heard about the Park(ing) Day initiative, she said “lets get it done.” This is the second year she has participated. On the green turf with some folding chairs and some board games, she greeted passers-by and invited them to learn about the park.
Nikonorow said the event was also a way to raise awareness of the park’s expansion. The city has recently approved adding to the park Hamilton Place and the proposed models for the layout are underway.