What is green, the size of a car, and costs $.25 an hour?
A: The parklet.
The parklet was created by the design firm, Rebar, in San Francisco in 2005. A parklet is a mini park placed in parking spaces in urban environments. Originally designed as a simple green space with a bench and a tree, some parklets now have Wifi and even a USB port so people can charge their electronics while recharging their mind and energy.
The parklet has become so popular that there is now a global, annual celebration every September to celebrate this clean, collaborative initiative across the globe. On PARK(ing) Day 2011, there were 975 parks in 162 cities in 35 countries on 6 continents.
The most recent PARK(ing) Day was September 21, 2012. Some themed parklets included: mini-golf, yoga, and a life-size Jenga game. Many cities, such as Dallas, San Francisco, and Munich turned PARK(ing) Day into a citywide festival with food, bike riding, exercise classes, and games.
Why such a need or interest in these small, deconstructable parks? According to Rebar, their inspiration drew from that fact that more than 70% of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is created for the private vehicle. In an effort to take back the city, they wanted to create more green space, both to for people to connect and relax and to infuse a bit of clean air into the otherwise polluted atmosphere. As cities become more dense and populated, the need for green space and a sense of community will also grow. It is of no surprise that the parklet has been popular worldwide; it is one way to bring some rural feel and locality into these bustling hubs of interconnectivity.
The next PARK(ing) Day will be September 20, 2013. It is never too early to start brainstorming ideas for your own original parklet. I am thinking crepe-making parklets, concert parklets, and ping-pong parklets. What would you want to share with your fellow city-dwellers?
By: Megan Rilkoff