Park(ing) Day: Re-imagining city spaces

This week’s guest writer is Myriam Ullah, community engagement coordinator for MCC Saskatchewan. Myriam recently celebrated her one-billion-second birthday!

Parking Day streetOn September 19, 2014, MCC Saskatchewan participated in Saskatoon’s third annual Park(ing) Day.

Park(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

So why do people do this — create bike lanes, pop-up retail, and public spaces infused with art and culture just for ONE DAY?  Because it is an experiment in “city-building,” where people envision their city in new ways and see if their visions are worth building on.

The overall idea is to re-imagine how city spaces could be used if we didn’t have so many cars. People are invited to host a creative stall the size of one metered parking spot for the day, alongside food trucks, entertainment, speakers, and other fun things.

For the past three years, Park(ing) Day Saskatoon has taken place on Riverdale’s 20th street, site of two MCC thrift shops (a clothing shop and a furniture shop). So we thought Park(ing) Day would be a great way to highlight thrift! We hosted two parking spots to demonstrate that second hand shopping can stylishly clothe us, furnish our homes, and build a community that balances between give and take.

MCC stallsThe clothing thrift shop set up several racks of clothes and held a “dress-our-mannequins” contest. It asked passers-by to choose a character, and then dress a mannequin within three minutes according to the character’s style. Many people participated and got really creative in playing dress-up. It was amazing to see how many visitors affirmed the thrift shop idea and expressed how much they love shopping there.

The furniture thrift shop made a curbside living room to showcase some of the amazing pieces they have in their store. Some people stopped to sit for a rest, others bought the items on display, and many more just paused to chat.

Alongside the stalls, we set up an MCC booth to draw attention to the many projects that thrift shop revenue supports and we invited folks to make their own thrift slogan buttons. Our slogans included: “Thrift Shopper for Peace,” “The Re-Purpose Driven Life,” “Keep Calm and Go Thrifting.”

parking benchWe had a great time re-imagining how these small city spaces could be better used to build community and were inspired by the task. All of need to continue to re-imagine our world at peace with God, one another, and creation.

If you’re interested in reading more about the ideas behind PARK(ing), a reading list, courtesy of the Saskatoon Public Library, is available here.


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