You may have found more than just a bite to eat strolling through downtown Providence on Friday.
Artists, designers, citizens and activists took over more than 30 metered parking spaces throughout the city as part of Park(ing) Day, a worldwide movement to bring awareness to green space in urban environments.
This was the first time Providence participated in the global event, bringing together 38 Rhode Island businesses to decorate the city’s parking spaces in a range of themes from traditional park decor to “found objects” -- the term for everyday items modified to become art.
At one site, No. 6 on 333 Westminster St., architectural firms Veri | Waterman Associates and Northeast Collaborative Architects put together an interactive exhibit encouraging passersby to stop and pose for photos.
“The objective is to take items and create your own space,” said Cindy Samson, office manager at Northeast Collaborative and part of the design team.
Ten employees from the two firms spent two weeks planning their “parklet.” The team decorated their space with a collection of found objects, from household items like curtains and dressers to lawn statues and toys.
“A lot of people like our space because it’s interactive and fun,” said Samson.
“It brings the city together,” chimed in Andrea Torrizzo, an architect at Northeast Collaborative.
Down the street at site No. 16 on 225 Westminster St., designed by Birchwood Design Group, Park(ing) Day organizer James Kennedy chatted with a few bikers participating in the Bike Newport tour of the parklets in Providence’s West Side and Downcity neighborhoods.
Kennedy, a co-editor of the blog Transport Providence, worked with the Rhode Island chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects as well as the city of Providence to organize the event.
Kennedy acknowledged how good it was to see the city being creative and starting a public conversation about the city’s parking.
“Parking is a huge expense for the city and it undermines environmental initiatives,” Kennedy said.
The Park(ing) Day movement began eight years ago 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 then, Park(ing) Day has grown to include 162 participating cities in 35 countries around the world.