On September 17, the CSU American Planning Association (APA) student organization participated in Park(ing) Day, a global, public, participatory art project where people across the world temporarily repurpose street parking spaces and convert them to tiny parks and places for art, play, and activism. As part of this event, the CSU team created a tactical urbanism display on campus. Park(ing) Day aims to engage the global community in the ongoing dialog around how our cities are designed and built. It began as a guerilla art project and act of design activism in a single parking space, and has grown into a global movement, inspiring the creation of “parklets” and COVID-era “streeteries” in cities across the United States and beyond.
Levin student Shneur Kushner, who serves as the CSU APA president, shared the following message:
"You may have seen something about Park(ing) Day last month on campus from our student planning association, CSU APA. As the CSU APA president, I’m here to answer some questions. Questions like, what is Park(ing) Day, why did CSU APA celebrate it, and how you can get involved in the future.
Park(ing) Day is a global project that takes place on the third Friday of September each year. Organizers create tactical urbanism projects (known as "parklets") on visible car infrastructure to illustrate how places for cars can be repurposed to work for everyone. In our auto-dependent society, it can be hard to recognize how infrastructure for cars can take away infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, people with disabilities, and even transit riders, but it is true, nonetheless. Park(ing) Day envisions a world where the lowest use spaces, surface, or street parking, are replaced with vibrant parklets for people.
The tactical urbanism of replacing parking with parks creates a unique space to engage in dialogue regarding how cities grow and thrive. As urban planners, we tend to think of cities as a unique ecological phenomenon. An entity that is alive and growing, or shrinking, due to trends both seen and unseen. The job of an urban planner, or anyone in urban fields, is to mitigate the trends that lead to shrinking and encourage those that lead to growth and sustainability. That is why Park(ing) Day is so unique and effective. It is not simply about taking away spaces from cars to park, but about showing our auto-dependent society that parking is abundant but vibrant spaces for people and communities to engage with are not.
Our event was largely successful because of the street we chose to host it on. Euclid Ave. is a vital street to the entire city of Cleveland. It connects Downtown with University Circle (recently branded as Uptown), hosts two world-renowned hospitals in University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, has the region's only true BRT (bus rapid transit) line, and CSU stands right in the center of it all. But a lack of street-facing parks along Euclid in the Campus District leaves the street feeling empty at times. Our Park(ing) Day event showed that when you convert spaces for cars into parklets for people, people will come. It is our hope that future planning efforts for CSU's campus can incorporate more spaces like these for people to engage with the environment around them, especially along such a vital street to the entire region.