Arts & Entertainment: Transform a parking space into ‘urban park’ space at Park(ing) Day

I once had a roommate in Seattle who had outstanding parking tickets amounting to more than $900. He worked a lot, drove a lot (accruing more tickets) and traveled a lot, and could never seem to pay the tickets before the 15-day due date, after which the penalties doubled. I don't know whether he ended up in debtor's gaol, or was eventually able to take advantage of the city's Parking Ticket Amnesty, an occasional grace period during which the Seattle Municipal Court temporarily suspends all interest and collection fees for each ticket in collections that is paid in full to the court.

For my friend – and anyone else who has a regrettable (ok, infuriating) relationship with parking meters and PayStations – http://parkingday.org/PARK(ing) Day 2012 was created. On Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tacomans are invited to take part in a world-wide event in which citizens will create idyllic public open space...one parking spot at a time.

Since 2005, this annual global act-up has organized citizens, artists and activists to collaborate in temporarily transforming metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. Pretty cool, huh? The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate debate around how public space is allocated, and to improve the quality of our urban habitat...at least until the meter runs out!

You can reserve a space now in downtown Tacoma – contact meagank@tacomachamber.org Meagan Kula at (253) 682-1734 or at dotg@tacomachamber.org http://www.downtownonthego.org. There is no cost to participate in transforming an annoying piece of short-lease urban real estate into a creative call for more public space. Just indicate where you would like to host a space within downtown, and Downtown on the Go will reserve it for you. You are responsible for providing your own props and decorations. Be creative, as you join individuals in 975 parks, 162 cities, six continents, and 35 countries, in enjoying positive social action...and a few hours of free parking!

I may not be on friendly terms with PayStation, but have to admit that Tacoma must have some of the coolest parking enforcement officers on the planet. When I worked on St. Helens Ave., I walked to my car one day and found a ticket on my windshield. Only it wasn't filled in – on the back the officer had written that my rear passenger side tire was low and I should get it checked. This happened not once, but twice. Cool dude (a woman, actually), observant and helpful. If only PayStation were so empathetic.

Lisa Kinoshita is a Tacoma artist and freelance writer. This article is reprinted here with permission of Tacoma Arts.

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