Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Chances to Enjoy Downtown

There are a number of events coming up that I wish to bring to your attention. They are (1) World PARK(ing) Day and (2) Lexington's 2nd Second Sunday.

On Saturday the 18th of September the world will celebrate PARK(ing) Day. PARK(ing) Day is the name of an annual, one-day global event during which individuals and groups transform parking spaces, parking lots (and other areas of the landscape built to store stationary motor vehicles), into places for people to congregate, socialize and play, to the exclusion of motor vehicles. The original concept is by by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design collective. This is a chance for all of you to grab you favorite parking space and make it into your little piece of recreation space.

There are a few rules to abide by, mostly just you can't use your PARK(ing) space for commercial purposes without permission, and many folks have usually made a quiet seating area with temporary landscaping(sod, potted bushes, small trees, etc...).

I have not seen that anyone in Lexington has done a PARK(ing) space before, so if our young creative class of activists(i.e. those protesting CentrePointe so much) is so creative, then maybe they can come up with a group of real interesting spaces. I hope so.

The other event comes in October, and as the name suggests is on the second Sunday of the month, this year it falls on the 11th. I posted about this last year and gave some very definite proposals about my likes and dislikes of this event. The more I think about it, the more I believe that it should be handled less like a community festival and more like a "grass roots" happening.

What began last year is a local emulation of the program that started in Bogota, Colombia. Their program has grown so large that they close approximately 70 miles of roadway EVERY Sunday, and they do it without any government run activities. They just let the people take back the streets. Lexington's successful event last year caught the eye of State officials and many other communities around the Commonwealth, so much so that they have now coordinated this years event to occur in 99 of Kentucky's 120 counties. I has now become a measurable boasting point to compare with other states. Letting people have free run of their streets and get healthy at the same time should not be a feather in some politicians cap.

The ongoing events in Colombia prove that it is not a numbers game for political gain and, although it is allowed, the government is not required to arrange activities for the participants. I am not calling for a free-for-all to take place and some sort of police presence is needed but yoga classes on the court house lawn(not in the street at all) or even focusing on activity downtown is the unnecessary part.

This year's closure (I still prefer to call it opening) of Main, Mill, Short and DeWeese is again concentrated in the downtown area. A location to which a majority of participants will have to drive for a four hour period. True there should be plenty of parking, but if the idea is to get people OUT of their cars then this project FAILS. The carbon footprint of the event negates any alleged benefits of the exercise undertaken, as it would include all of the organizers and volunteers as well as interested participants, of whom 80% or better will drive and park for the afternoon.

That brings up another point, four hours of a Sunday afternoon. Why not take all afternoon, or the full 24 hour period from 6:p.m. Saturday night to 6:p.m. Sunday? Involve the whole community for the entire time. Can you imagine an outdoor church service on the courthouse lawn in sight of the homeless of Phoenix Park? Or the morning strollers meandering by the accumulated trash of the previous nights revelers? Each segment of the city's population using the street for their own purposes, just without car and trucks.

Once again, I like the idea of Second Sunday. I like the idea of letting the people take back the streets. I don't like the sanitized version being foisted upon the people to let them feel good while being bad.

1 comment:

taylorshelton said...

you didn't look close enough for previous Park(ing) Day activities: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtshelton/sets/72157607376986342/

And I'm pretty sure someone did one in Chevy Chase, in addition to the one at UK.