Reclaiming the City, One Parking Spot at a Time
By Carol Robidoux, September 21, 2012, originally posted in Nashua Patch.
Green space, bike infrastructure, community gardens and room to create, all things that make city life more vibrant.
Homa Jaferey and Hilary Grubbs are playing Scrabble in the street.
Manny Ramirez is spray-painting a sudden work of art on a blank canvas.
Paul Shea is relaxing next to a pop-up container garden.
Tom Lopez and James Vayo are standing on the sidewalk next to a guerrilla street display meant to energize the conversation about creating a more dynamic downtown.
It’s all part of Park(ing) Day, a national awareness campaign to engage residents in the things that make a city livable, sustainable and useful.
Vayo, of Renaissance Downtowns, reserved three parking spaces outside his storefront at 88 Main Street and filled the space with plants borrowed from Countrybrook Farms in Hudson, and purchased 200 square feet of sod from Tim’s Turf in Litchfield. He borrowed a bike rack from Goodale’s Bike shop, and got an assist in the art department from Positive Street Art and Adam Brown of Skatewise Skateshop.
Shea volunteered to populate one of the three parking spaces with a raised bed garden in an effort to promote the idea of expanding on the city’s community garden program.
“At Visualize Nashua meetings we’ve talked about expanding the city’s community garden space – we do have a great community garden at Greeely Park, but there’s a waiting list for that,” Shea said.
He brought tomatoes and pumpkins from his home garden, and picked up two fruit trees, along with a butterfly bush.
“It immediately attracted butterflies, so that was a good investment,” Shea said.
He is looking for more people interested in community gardens contact him directly at [email protected]
Vayo said the reactions from people walking by really made the event worthwhile.
“I saw the value on people’s faces, who stopped to ask what was going on and their general demeanor of happiness to see a green space downtown,” Vayo said.
As Park(ing) Day happens in small pockets around the country, Vayo said the bigger picture idea, of reclaiming public space, is meaningful locally, here in Nashua, where he’d like to see this kind of event happen annually, and grow beyond three parking spaces – perhaps having downtown businesses join in and create pop-up sidewalk sales.
“Celebrating that public space for pedestrians is a key message. I hope in the future others will want to participate in that it will start a discussion about the types of uses we want for out downtown, we being the community,” Vayo said.
Name: Visualize Nashua