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Park(ing) Day 2009: A photo essay

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The annual event known as Park(ing) Day originated with the artist collective Rebar in San Francisco in 2005 as a means for drawing attention to the need for public, green space in the city. Groups of artists and activists fed meters while transforming parking spaces into temporary parks, inviting the public to stop, relax, socialize, play, and contemplate our reliance on motorized vehicles. This initial event was a kind of protest, carried out by "leasing" urban pavement and re-imagining its use.

The event has since gone international, with Grand Rapids joining the fray last year. While Park(ing) Day was originally conceived as a non-commercial activity (and, according to Park(ing) Day rules, still is), Grand Rapids' version is largely promotional in nature, offering local businesses and organizations  the opportunity to raise awareness about their goods or services. To that end, this year's PARKs included samples from San Chez Bistro and MadCap Coffee, participatory activities with the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, a chance to pre-register for ArtPrize, and demonstrations of the new BikePetal bicycle racks that are springing up in the area.

But the PARKs also offered ample opportunity to relax on sofas and chairs, lay back on soft sod, and enjoy the ambience of downtown from a perspective not usually afforded to pedestrians.

In this slideshow:

1. San Chez's PARK on Louis NW

2. PARK for Comstock '09, the music and motocross festival on Monroe Center NW

3. The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition's PARK with BikePetal rack on Ottawa NW

4. ArtPrize's PARK on Monroe Center NW

5. Lounging at the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks' PARK on Fountain NW

6. Wider view of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks' PARK on Fountain NW

7. The Bike Park d'Veloise, challenging riders to fill a car parking space with bicycles on Fountain NW

8. Plenty Creative's aquatic-themed PARK on Ionia SW

9. J. Gardella's Tavern's diminutive PARK on Ionia SW

Click on the images, then "all sizes," to view larger photos


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