Nature Notes: National Park(ing) Day

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

National Park(ing) Day came to Columbus for the first time, and it was a success.Five parks were set up in parking spaces Downtown and in the Short North in hopes of raising awareness about the ratio of parking spaces to public parks.

Some cities dedicate as much as 70 percent of outdoor space to the personal vehicle, according to the Rebar group, which threw the first Park(ing) Day in 2005. In Columbus, it's too much, if you ask me.

Those who brought the event to Columbus chose to go through proper channels, rather than just feeding a meter guerilla-style -- and eventually got the OK from the city's public service department. The process to obtain street-occupancy permits sounded quite horrendous, though, and various hassles during it almost killed the event before it started.

I hope the city makes things easier next year -- and that organizers, dealing with the city for the first time, have a better handle on how to push things through. Still, we made great headway for a worthwhile undertaking.

“I think it went well for what it was," local organizer Jodi Kushins said Tuesday. "I wish it was a little bigger. People have been writing to me and asking me why they hadn’t heard of it, so next year there will be that much more momentum.”

Alive had the difficult task of engaging the Broad Street commuter crowd, which, for the most part, drives from the suburbs, sits in an office and shuffles quickly to and from lunch. We were met with quizzical looks, odd stares, friendly waves and some nice conversation. Still, we couldn't get anyone to sit down at the chairs we set up atop borrowed Astroturf.

Green Columbus seemed to have better luck on Gay Street, the strip that's becoming a mixed-use district of artists, businesses and pedestrians. They had live music, grass and water in bottles made from biodegradable materials. Nice work.

A woman with Capital Crossroads brought out her work desk further west on Broad, and local organizer Jodi Kushins constructed a parlor-type setting with house plants, an area rug and comfy chairs. A local design firm also participated.

[Park(ing) Day Columbus homepage] [Columbus Underground photos] [Photos from around the world]

Lots more local photos after the jump...