Monday, September 19, 2011

Park(ing) Day

Piedmont Ave. parklet

Friday was Park(ing) Day, a world-wide event where parking spaces were temporarily turned into mini "parklets" for people to enjoy. First, a huge shout out to Ruth Miller (of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Oakland Local), who was a major part of Park(ing) Day happening here in Oakland. And thank you to everyone who made the different parklets around Oakland happen.

I started by visiting the parklet in front of Shimizu Sushi on Piedmont Avenue. It was done with the support of Danny, the head chef and owner, but it was a couple of area residents (thanks, Jennifer!) who made this parklet happen for the 2nd year in a row. The parklet was comfy, with patio furniture over a layer of bark chips.

Then I rolled down to Grand Ave. to check out the parklet at Farley's East. This was the second year for this parklet as well. It filled two parking spaces, with one half given over to comfy chairs and plants, and the other to mats for yoga and a couple of exercise machines. Not surprisingly, I saw BART board member and former East Bay Bike Coalition executive director Robert Raburn there -- what better place to see someone who's dedicated their career to biking and transit?

East Bay Meditation Center parklet

A short walk away on Broadway was another parklet in front of the East Bay Meditation Center. This was the first year for the parklet, and while it had the support of the EBMC, community members made it happen. Thanks, Christy and Nichole!

A short distance away on Telegraph across from the Fox Theater was a parklet in front of the Marquee Lofts. I saw @dto510 and @vsmoothe there, who picked things up after the resident who started the parklet couldn't do it. Thanks especially to VSmoothe who brought furniture and decorations from home for the parklet.

Over on 17th, PGA Design had a very creative parklet, designed to look like a campsite. From hiking socks drying in a tree, to 'stumps' to sit on, to s'mores cooked over the campfire, they kept the theme running. (PGA Design did the landscape architecture at the Tassafaronga apartments, where the Habitat East Bay Kinsell Commons development is.)

Back over to Broadway, Oaklandish and Hank and Frank Bicycles had a parklet featuring free bike tuneups, and food from El Taco Bike. Around the corner from them on 14th was a parklet by TransForm which had a table for games and was making smoothies in a bike-powered blender.

Actual Cafe parklet

Then it was a longer haul over to Actual Cafe. I'm admittedly biased (because I helped build it), but this was the most beautiful of the parklets. Part of that is because it's designed to be (hopefully) permanent, so it had more finish work put into it.

I was hoping to hook up with Ruth Miller after that at Cole Coffee for a bike tour of all the Oakland parklets along with Oakland North, but after a long day, I was happy to make it there at all.

But wait, there's more! [--More-- (66%) for you Unix nerds] Some of the parklets were on Saturday instead, to take advantage of weekend foot traffic. (And in fine Oakland style, the Actual Cafe parklet was there not only Park(ing) Day on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday, too.) So Saturday I headed out again to check out the parklets on Lakeshore and Grand Ave.

Lakeshore parklet

First up on Saturday was a parklet in front of Noah's Bagels on Lakeshore. Put together by area merchants and volunteers, it featured live music, games, and a couple of nice seating areas. Unlike the parklets in Downtown which suffered from shading from nearby buildings, they had to bring in some umbrellas for shade. I had a great time relaxing there -- I just needed a cold beer to round things out.

Just down the street in front of Arizmendi Bakery were not one but two parklets. Local merchants and residents are hoping to make the spot in front of Arizemendi into a permanent parklet. It would mean the loss of one parking space, but would add some much needed sidewalk seating to the area. I saw city council member Pat Kernighan visiting the parklets there. Around the way was yet another parklet, with some yummy treats from new Grand Ave. bakery Boniere Bakery (formerly in Alameda), books to read, and comfy seats. I met some Oakland history fans (and their awesome dog), and chatted with Oakland North editor Cynthia Gorney and neighborhood supporter Ken Katz.

I talked with a bunch of people, both about Park(ing) Day and Oakland in general, but I still made it over to Actual Cafe to check how day 2 was going there. I chatted with some of the neighboring businesses that we built the permanent planter/benches for, and relaxed with a beer. I confirmed my earlier "best of" opinion of the Actual Cafe parklet and talked with some of the area residents who helped build it. I'm looking forward to spending more time in the parklet -- I hope the city gives the go-ahead to make it permanent.

More coverage:
Oakland North

Lots more pictures:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I learned a lot about the parklets I missed!

George Schneider said...

It is good to know that there are certain organizers that organize this kind of event. Turning a parking space into a so called "parklets" is so cool. I missed visiting parklets in my town. I will surely visit it when I get some time.