by Andrea Limauro
When OP’s staff first joined the global Park(ing) Day movement last year, they surely did not think they would inspire a replica as far away as Italy. However, as OP’s staff plans to launch their second Park(ing) Day event today, they will be joined, at least in spirit, by Italian counterparts in the town of Conegliano, Italy. How did this intercontinental partnership happen? Last year, OP hosted an Italian planning student, Matteo Larese Gortigo, as part of an on-going internship agreement with the Planning Department of the University IUAV of Venice. Matteo and OP staff joined together to launch OP’s first experiment with temporarily transforming a parking space in front of its office at 1100 4th St SW into a welcoming place for socializing, meeting and talking planning. OP’s Park(ing) project was one of a handful of similar efforts in the District and thousands around the globe.
As Matteo went back to his hometown of Conegliano with the goal of putting into practice what he learned from his internship, Park(ing) Day stood out as a fun and easy to replicate project. So, after putting together a small group of volunteers, he planned Conegliano’s first version of Park(ing) Day and Italy’s only second Park(ing) project this year.
The Parking Day website describes the event as “an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.”
If you are curious about what Park(ing) Day is all about, and maybe thinking of joining the movement next year by replicating a project in your own neighborhood, you should come and visit OP’s project at 1100 4th St SW today from 9am to 3pm (or, if you are in Italy, you should take the opportunity to visit charming Conegliano and see Matteo’s project!).