A curious arrangement of wood potting and plants took up a parking spot in front of the Erie County Courthouse Friday.
The space was put together by Dahlkemper Landscaping Architects and Contractors for PARK(ing) Day, a movement focusing on converting a parking spaces into something public for the day.
PARK(ing) Day was started by Rebar in San Francisco in 2005. It takes place annually on the third Friday of September.
Rebar is an organization focused on re-creating the way people see cityscapes with things like PARK(ing) day.
It also heads projects for renewable public art such as “social furniture” projects in public spots using huge, fun shaped couches to spark curiosity and, hopefully, conversation in users.
Rebar hopes the re-imagining of parking spots allows people to see the urban landscape in a new way and change characteristics within cities.
The event has included parking spaces that turned into things like a public kiddie pool, an outdoor classroom, a croquet tournament and an art gallery.
One of the things the event stresses is to avoid waste when planning to fill out a parking spot. Rebar recommends to recycle any materials used as groundcover and decoration.
Dahlkemper’s design was extremely environmentally conscious in using all recycled materials to grow the food they offered.
Penn State participated last year by turning a space into a public corn hole game, which was very well received.
The section on Sixth street was planned to please the palate and aesthetics. Grass covered the space and planters made from recycled materials offered free, locally grown food. There was also a picnic table covered in produce and a pitcher of lemonade.
Tom Barton, a sophomore theatre and communication arts major, found the concept interesting.
“It was a good way for the contractors to put their idea out there,” he said. “The free tomato I got was really good.”
Alex Luddy, who headed the conversion of the parking space, said his farm-to-table park space was all about taking space from the city and giving it back to the community.
“The big question is what all you can do with essentially 200-square-feet of space,” Luddy said. “We were one of the first groups to bring this to Erie. It allows for unscripted, social interaction, which we don’t see a whole lot anymore.”
Luddy said the space was designed to renew the palate. It put up a green space to contrast the sterile marble of the courthouse and put out an assortment of local vegetables and herbs to treat visitors.
He said he was pleased with the turnout and would like to continue the event. He hopes to see even more than one parking space converted in the future.