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The Daily Tar Heel

Carolina Students put the "park" in "Parking space"

Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, four UNC students came together with fellow classmates and organized the first ever Chapel Hill PARK(ing) Day

Within the confines of one parking space in front of Starbucks on Franklin Street, students constructed a miniature park in the hopes of bringing the global event to the Chapel Hill community.

PARK(ing) Day, a global open-source event, started when Rebar, an art and design studio in San Francisco, transformed a metered parking space into a public space with a tree, a bench and grass.

The parking space was decorated and equipped with many household and homemade items, like a bench made of concrete blocks and wooden beams, an assortment of plants and colorful, artistic displays. The event also featured activities like mini-golf, sidewalk chalk and live music.

UNC students were excited to see the artistic innovation, but older and younger residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro also showed their enthusiasm for the event.  

According to the organizers, there were more than two hundred people in attendance throughout the day. One of the many visitors was UNC senior Mackenzie Day.  

"I think the purpose of this event was to create a space downtown where people come together," Day said.

Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, rented the parking space for the day and purchased several Starbucks gift cards for the event organizers to hand out to participants of the event.

Caroline Lindquist, a senior environmental studies major and city and regional planning minor, was one of four students who orchestrated this independent undertaking. The other students involved in planning and coordinating the event were sophomore Brian Vaughn, who is a member of The Daily Tar Heel's editorial board, senior Alexi Wordell and junior Evan Day.

“The thing I love about PARK(ing) is it’s the idea of using design to help create community," Lindquist said. "Promoting this event, we made sure not to say ‘our’ park to make it accessible to all citizens."

The event's student organizers conceived the idea about bringing aspects of sustainable research to the Chapel Hill community while studying abroad in Europe as part of the Burch Field Research Seminar in Spain and Germany. On this trip, the students saw many grassroots efforts geared towards creative sustainability and the use of public spaces as communitywide movements.

Senior Gray Johnston also took part in the research seminar. When he arrived at the event in the morning, he was greeted by a homeless man who had read about PARK(ing) day. The man assisted him and the other students in setting up the layout of the parking space.

Charles Cleaver, a local resident, was excited to see the handmade park.

“I think this is a really great use of public space. Chapel Hill needs to do more things to engage with the people," Cleaver said. "The more we are getting people to care about space that we all use and are all responsible for, the more we are getting out."


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