PARK(ing) Day Space Engages Dallas Public
In September, Freese and Nichols’ North Texas Transportation and Transportation Planning teams transformed an on-street parking spot into an active tiny park in Downtown Dallas. As part of the annual PARK(ing) Day event, Freese and Nichols joined other local businesses, organizations, and individuals in promoting the active use of public spaces. The national event promotes social interaction, civic engagement, critical thinking, and creativity by permitting on-street parking spaces and letting the groups dream up and make a space for people to relax, network and enjoy.
Our team engaged the public by creating a comfortable place to sit and short interactive games for passersby. A low wall with a tray for plants and flowers was built to divide the vehicles along Main Street from the tiny park and define the place made for people’s relaxation and enjoyment. Additionally, seating, shade and games were used to make the place inviting to people and provide a respite for those busily walking from building to building in their daily pattern of life.
The team constructed two wooden benches for seating in the area, which turned out beautifully. The simple materials of 2x4s and screws builds one sturdy bench – and heavy, too! For games, two simple games were started that allowed people to join and leave easily – telephone-pictionary and ladderball. The former, a blend of the telephone game and Pictionary, starts with a phrase which the next player must draw a picture of and the player after that guessing the phrase from the previous player’s drawing. As passersby played throughout the day, we watched as the phrase transformed. In the team’s game, the starting phrase “Biking Downtown” morphed into “Evel Knievel jumping over America.”
In the end, PARK(ing) Day was a success. The vibrancy of social interaction in these transformed parking spaces and civic engagement from people and organizations in Dallas was inspiring. These are the types of results that are encouraging to those of us working in public works and community development – the engineers, the architects, the planners. It is this type of community involvement and social interaction, this flourishing of city life, which is the ultimate goal of those working hard every day to build the framework and infrastructure for this to be made possible.