As SEPTA offers up a possible “doomsday” plan that would eliminate nine of its 13 regional rail lines in the next 10 years, threatening to send 40 million riders back to their cars, some Northwest Philadelphians are still imagining a future of repurposed parking spaces.
Along West Chelten Avenue on Friday, the Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC), the Germantown Artists Roundtable and Philadelphia University will celebrate Park(ing) Day, an annual worldwide event dedicated to transforming cities’ metered spaces from parking spots into public mini-parks.
Artists, activists and eco-entrepreneurs worldwide use Park(ing) Day to share their message with the public and imagine something other than asphalt covering the world’s parking lots. Locally, there are more than 40 locations beyond Germantown, viewable on this interactive map.
Imagining a different world
“We’re going to be making our spot into a little outdoor park,” GUCDC Park(ing) Day organizer Megan Fitzpatrick told NewsWorks this week. “What would happen to the spots if more citizens used public transit, and didn’t depend on cars so much?”
GUCDC members will talk to locals about the fate of the old Germantown Town Hall. They will also pass out menus from nearby cafes in an effort to promote local dining.
A trip to a Fairmount Park recycling center netted the planners a large cherry tree trunk that they hollowed out and cut into planters.
With some pallets donated from Killian’s Hardware of Chestnut Hill, these are becoming a vertical garden with the help of GUCDC board member Sarah Endriss’ Philadelphia University landscape-architecture students.
“After Park(ing) Day is over, we’re going to march these little planters and little garden installations over to Maplewood Mall, to beautify the space in preparation for the Re-Imagining Maplewood Mall Festival in October,” Fitzpatrick said.
Arts in the parking mix
Germantown Artists Roundtable organizer Paula Paul is helping spearhead that group’s (Park)ing Day spot at Chelten Avenue and Greene St., modeling it after their successful street-arts extravaganza last year.
“The highlight is an attempt to pull from each of the arts: Visual, performing and literary, and somehow transform a parking spot for a day into a place where all those things can happen at once,” Paul said.
The day will include an outdoor art salon, with a special street installation from iMPeRFeCT Gallery co-founder Renny Molenaar.
The window grate of the deserted store behind the parking spot will become an impromptu gallery, including a photo display from Germantown photographer Tieshka Smith and a showcase of this summer’s “Photographing Germantown’s Human Assets” project. African drummers, a poetry circle and a yarn-bombing will round out the day.
Germantown in 3D
Philadelphia University will also have its own Chelten Avenue spot.
Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Kim Douglas said it is an opportunity for students to prepare for a studio-course project focused on Germantown revitalization.
Fifth-year landscape-architecture and architecture students, along with masters’ students in GeoDesign, are developing a virtual 3D “ecodistrict framework plan” for the Germantown business corridor. Students will be on the scene to get community input on Park(ing) Day.
“The students will set up easels and pads and chalk on the parking area to record what the community envisions, so we hope people will stop by to talk, draw and record their dreams,” Douglas explained.
The Germantown spots will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday along Chelten Avenue between Germantown Ave. and Greene St.