Parking Day and the Bigger Picture of Small Spaces

Last Friday was Park(ing) Day, an annual grassroots effort to demonstrate what our city might look like if all of the valuable real estate currently reserved for parked cars was instead dedicated to soothing urban green space, recreation, or other people-centric pursuits.

About 30 groups worked on creating miniature car-sized parks in neighborhoods around Seattle. The results were diverse and inspiring. We were moved not only by the creativity that went into planning the range of spaces, but also the amount of activity that can be packed into just one parking spot! From picnics to painting to public yoga, gardening and lounging, Seattle residents showed off what they value most about public space.

Flickr user Jeanine Anderson compiled several gorgeous photos of incredible mini-park displays around town:

This beautiful oasis was created outside of the AIA Seattle office downtown.

Sustainable Capitol Hill created a spot that reflected the neighborhood's social, urban spirit.

At SAM, passersby were invited to create art of their own.

Kent's Bike Blog also posted some great images of the day from the Columbia City and Hillman City neighborhoods, including the ones below:



While Park(ing) Day's statement about the vast expanse of public space that we currently sacrifice to our cars, the photos of these incredibly imaginative community expressions also set my head spinning around another issue: the potential of small spaces to inspire creative solutions. We've seen it in the Not So Big House movement, for example, and from many themes in the Slow Home movement, as well as in numerous approaches to public art. Maximizing the potential of our seemingly small spaces will contribute infinitely to the creation of human-scale cities that are welcoming, surprising, engaging and that pack delight around every turn.

What would you do if given the space? Please share your comments below!

For more on Park(ing) Day, read Jeremy Faludi's post in the Worldchanging archive.

Photo credits: flickr/Jeanine Anderson, Creative Commons License, and Kent's Bike Blog.


I'm delighted that Park(ing) Day Seattle got picked up by WorldChanging. It fits the criteria - green, solutions-oriented, and innovative. It's been nationwide a year or two, but I believe that its presence increased greatly this year.

The fun thing about Park(ing) Day is that it's cute and accessible and fun and yet so subversive. All it takes is a friendly little parking spot park to plant the idea in peoples' heads that maybe Green should have priority over Car.

It also makes for a great outreach event. The Capitol Hill Community Council got a chance to hang out on some sod and tell the neighborhood about the fundraising going on for the park-to-be at John and Summit. Only $150K more to go! Read more about the effort at

Posted by: Jen Power on October 5, 2008 10:22 PM

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