ABC News on Campus reporter Marlei Martinez blogs:
For cities big and small, parking spaces are a hot commodity. And this Friday, local organizations showed the city of Syracuse just how valuable parking spots are. Students joined the festivities by settling into several parking spaces throughout the city, and camping out for hours. Gaelin Walsh, right, tells a Syracuse University student about PARK(ing) Day.
“Today is International PARK(ing) Day,” Tara Nelson, a Senior Advertising and Sociology Major at SU, said. “We’re promoting awareness that a lot of space is wasted for cars. This space could be used for parks and more creative spaces.”
Surrounded by a bicycle, hammock and wooden table showcasing art books Nelson spent the rest of her Friday chilling in the sun with friends and informing passerby of PARK(ing) Day.
“We had one person who asked us, ‘Are you allowed to be here?’ And I said, ‘If you can park here, why can’t a person sit here?’” Nelson said.
PARK(ing) Day was set up in Syracuse by COLAB, a creative initiative based out of SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. But they weren’t the only organization taking over the spaces around the campus. SU’s School of Education, SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), the city’s Peace Council and various non-profits lined the streets as well.
“Today we’re giving out free books,” Adrienne Allen, the Board Secretary for the non-profit organization “Alchemical Nursery” said. “Our book share gives us the opportunity to interact with people that we may never had interacted with.”
Giselle Schlegel (left) and Tara Nelson (right) hanging out in their reserved parking space for International PARK(ing) Day.
Books like “Jane Goodall In the Shadow of Man,” “The Orchid Thief” and “Plan B 3.0″ were just some of the many books strewn across the table. Allen, 25, said her favorite part of the day was seeing which books people were interested.
“We picked all of these books at random,” Allen explained. “You know the saying, ‘You don’t judge a book by its cover.’ That’s kind of what we’re promoting today since we get to meet many different types of people.”
Between the streets surrounding SU and the streets that make up Downtown Armory Square in Syracuse, there were at least 15 stands promoting International PARK(ing) Day. But one SU student says not everyone had it quite figured it out.
“People are somewhat confused about the purpose of Parking Day I think,” Lonni Peterson, a Senior Landscape Architecture major at SUNY ESF said. “Some people are kind of wandering away from the message about promoting green, and doing something better with these public spaces than using cars.” Lonni Peterson manning one of the 10 SUNY ESF spots across Syracuse
One of Peterson’s classmates, senior Gaelin Walsh, agreed.
“Parking is the least beneficial use of public space in the city,” Walsh said. “In the city, there is really no economic benefit for it.”
Instead, Walsh proposed using the space for food plots and urban gardens.
The participants of PARK(ing) Day stationed outside from 8AM to 5PM. Throughout the day, they made many heads turn, but were they really making a difference?
Matt Kallen, another senior Landscape Architecture major, thinks so. He and his classmate were stationed outside of a local CVS.
“I talked to a lady earlier about PARK(ing) Day and promoting green awareness before she went into CVS,” Kallen said. “After she was down buying some groceries, she came back outside and told me that she didn’t ask for plastic bags. So even just talking to one person makes a difference.”
All photos taken by Marlei Martinez.