Parks Taking Shape for a Day
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — On Friday, Park[ing] Day LA had small groups designing one-day pocket parks all over Los Angeles, and the themes were encouraged to be either "active" or "passive" declarations reclaiming public space. On Olive, just south of 6th St, landscape architects from the Meléndrez firm took over an on-street parking spot and covered it with sod and trees, and called it 2 Hour PARK[ing]. The three greenanistas completed with a sign saying "Honk if you Love Open Space," and according to Valerie Watson, cars honked in support.
To illustrate what the day was about, as if on cue, a car ducked in the spot as the last piece of sod was taken way at 2pm sharp. The instant reclamation by the auto was almost a statement in itself, adding to what Katie Hards called a "guerrilla art" version of Park[ing] LA.
Larger in scale was the 16-space parking triangle at Joel Bloom Square filled with sod, pallets and trees borrowed from the City of LA, Home Depot, and film prop houses. On the sidewalk were larger trees brought in to landscape the Mura Development and left on view for most of the day at the entrance what became a children's playground.
The triangle was taken over and designed by Arts District architecture and urban design firm Office 42, and principles Stephanie and Ben Ragle invited the Nishi Child Development Center to what was called park [AT]TRACTION. The children, who by tradition are often entertained by the cardboard box a toy comes in, romped around the grass using pallets as bridges over dangerous rivers, while others helped paint a small paper mural attached to the fence.
With these two examples of the nationwide green-in, Parking Day showed what some imagination and planning can bring. It was very apparent how quickly people in a neighborhood can respond to unusual spaces when the children, asked to sit in a circle at the end of the visit, avoided sitting on pallets covered in chalk and by chance made a perfect triangle.
Sometimes, quiet defiance from a small group comes from responding to the limits of an environment, and can make something special by adapting to a space.
Add: The Los Angeles Times notes mixed reactions, not unlike the ones in the comments below: "But in other neighborhoods, the reaction was more complex -- and perplexed"