PARK(ing) Day Dallas celebrated downtown

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A band plays in one of the “Mini-Parks” set up in downtown on Friday. (Courtesy of GAtech.edu)” height=”216

 

The rain might have made the afternoon gloomy around town Friday, but on Main Street in downtown Dallas things were quite lively. Live music, a dog park and a puppet show were only a few of the stops along Main Street to celebrate and promote PARK(ing) Day Dallas.

PARK(ing) Day Dallas was held on Main Street parks built between Field and St. Paul Street. The concept of the event is simple: to send a message about fostering community park areas.

Groups constructed installation pieces in designated metered parking spots. The 39 participating groups designed their installations in one of three locations: Downtown, Deep Ellum, or the Arts District.

The event was created in 2005 by the San Fransisco-based Rebar Group. The art and design studio used a single metered parking space to create a temporary park in an urban setting. The park-promoting concept exploded around the globe to include more than 160 cities in 35 countries participating in the single-day event, according to the Rebar Group’s website.

PARK(ing) Day has been a part of the Dallas community for three years. “It’s been getting more popular. More people want to get involved,” said Jared White from the City of Dallas. White works for the Public Works Department overseeing Dallas’ bikeway system. White said two years ago the Parks Department did a miniature bike trail to promote new trails around the city and last year they created a soccer field. “I just like the creativity of the event, and all of the different ideas that people have to convert their spaces,” White said.

Creativity was a key aspect in the city’s Department of Sanitation Services’ PARK(ing) Day booth. Shawn Smith, a specialist with the Waste Diversion Unit, showed off the puppet show booth put together by him and his team. Romeo, the Sanitation Services’ chipmunk mascot, was scheduled to make a few rapping appearances throughout the day to teach kids about recycling. Smith explained that the goal of the Waste Diversion Unit is to prevent toxins in our city, and Romeo was a way to get kids involved.

Dallas-based urban planning company SWA took to the numbers to communicate their PARK(ing) Day message. SWA is a green-oriented group that stresses sustainability in their landscape and urban design in their United States and international projects.

SWA illustrated their message by calculating the amount of surface parking in terms of possible park space. According to their numbers, Dallas has around 257 acres of surface parking. The 17,000 surface parking spots across the metro equates to 74 Belo Gardens area, 71 Main Street Gardens, or four
Katy Trails.

The green–oriented group also encourages repurposing of materials. “We’re not totally anti- surface parking,” SWA’s Carrie Van Valkenburg said. “It’s about encouraging professional designers, such as ourselves, city officials and even residents, to really brainstorm how we can transform these parking spaces into community amenities.”

SMU joined the repurposing efforts of PARK(ing) Day through graduate student Megan Iliya. Iliya is getting her MBA and MA in Arts Administration, splitting her time between the Meadows and Cox schools. Iliya was participating with the Nasher Sculpture Center group where she is an art ambassador.

Iliya explained that the Nasher Center has been a part of PARK(ing) Day for two years. When her co-workers who lived downtown heard about the event, they “decided it’s a great opportunity to engage downtown, not only the residents, but also the people that work there.”

The Nasher Center’s installation included a Styrofoam structure inspired by artist Jean Debuffet’s “Tower of Lace”, whose work was recently displayed at the Center. Colored tape laid next to the white Styrofoam tower, encouraging members of the community to take a few pieces and add their mark to the “Tower” imitation. “Anybody that walks up can do it,” said Iliya. She pointed out a few tape images on the piece created by passersby, signaling PARK(ing) Day’s engagement of the
surrounding community.

The creativity of another spot captured a different kind of city space — dog parks. Downtown Pawz Pet Supply owner Adrian Bustos turned two parking spaces into a play area for pooches. His love for the community was what inspired him to get involved with PARK(ing) Day. “That’s kind of what we’re focused on, just trying to get the community together and make a whole different area, make it nicer, fun,” Bustos said.

Bustos, joined by the other participants, sported rain gear as well as smiles at the PARK(ing) Day event, adding their share of “fun” to downtown. Bustos has participated in the event for two years, and said his business would continue to do so for “as long as [they]’re open, for sure.”

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