Fort Lauderdale Celebrates Park(ing) Day 2012

September 27, 2012

On September 21, 2012, KAI joined forces with UrbanMatters CoLab, the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) School of Urban and Regional Planning, the FAU School of Architecture, and the Broward Chapter of the American Planning Association to take over three parking spaces in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for PARK(ing) Day 2012.

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where citizens, artists, and activists collaborate to take back parking spaces for public use. The central mission is to call attention to how much space is dedicated to the automobile and to foster awareness and debate about the other types of uses that that space could be used for. The ultimate goal is to inspire people to improve the quality of urban spaces worldwide.

This is the second year that the City of Fort Lauderdale has hosted PARK(ing) Day, and this year we decided that each of the four teams we formed would respond to a question in the urban context. The questions were as follows:

  • What if… public transportation was the most convenient and desirable travel mode?

  • What if… produce from local urban farming was accessible and affordable?

  • What if… instead of empty sidewalks and parking lots we had outdoor cafes and public seating?

  • What if… we used and created public spaces to play and interact with friends and strangers?

The event got off to a slightly rocky start, as the parking spots had not been blocked off for our use as intended, and we had to wait for cars to move so that we could claim our space. This required us to consolidate the four spaces into three. However, armed with our supplies and plenty of coffee, each team constructed its display quickly and efficiently.

KAI responded to the first question by creating a pop-up transit station to highlight the new Wave Streetcar that will be constructed in Downtown Fort Lauderdale by 2015 and to educate people on important aspects of transit stops. This display was educational and whimsical, complete with a roof composed of multicolored umbrellas and a real Broward County Transit bus seat along with signs that explained why each aspect of the stop was important.

Other displays included a creative example of urban farming, a game area complete with oversized tic-tac-toe pieces and a table for checkers, and a sidewalk café where Dr. Eric Dumbaugh, the Interim Director of FAU’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, took orders and served food from a nearby restaurant.

The sidewalks were full of people interested in what we were doing. Each person left the event with new knowledge of what options are out there and a greater desire to bring life back into Fort Lauderdale’s urban environment. At several points during the day, passers-by stopped to look at our displays and asked what we were selling. Perhaps the most telling and accurate response to this question was given by FAU Urban and Regional Planning student Eric Katz when he said, “We’re not selling anything; we’re inspiring.”

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