For more than a year, Seattleites have been curious about what will happen to the 500 block of E. Pine Street. Once home to many businesses that defined Capitol Hill's unique cultural landscape, this block is now a gravel graveyard. Shortly after demolition, the plans for upscale condo construction took a tumble along with the economy. Site owners state that they still wish to build, but for now it appears that the nearly 22,000 square foot lot will stay barren, much to the community's dismay.
But thanks to local Worldchanging ally Keith Harris and other advocates of empty space revitalization, this gravel wasteland might have a bright future -- even if only for a short period of time. Earlier this year, Harris founded a group called People's Parking Lot(*s), with the goal of reclaiming and activating neglected spaces throughout the neighborhood. On September 18th, Harris, along with many others, will give the empty lot a massive facelift by turning it into a community park, as part of the worldwide art/activism event Park(ing) Day.
The "Central Park," as Harris and his fellow organizers are calling it, will include 24 mini parks, micro-music venues and a community hub. The Central Park organizers are encouraging community members to use their creativity to design themed "parks" in 9' x 18' rectangles (the size of a standard car-parking space). They are working to garner support from local businesses and groups -- current sponsors include Office Nomads and Capitol Hill Housing. The event is being planned with permission from property owner Ron Boscola, and Harris says that money from a smART grant will pay for insurance.
Park(ing) Day is a inspiring event that asks us all to think differently about our streets and how we use our space. By putting green spaces and people in places that are typically empty or filled with cars, Park(ing) Day advocates are helping people to imagine how things could be different.
Beyond the Central Park, Seattleites are signing up to host their own Park(ing) Day events throughout the city. Even if you choose not to create your own Park(ing) Spot, be sure to take a stroll around Seattle on Sept. 18 to see what your neighbors are up to. Click here to see images of last year's event.