Kindest thanks to the ever-observant Anil Netto for drawing this to my attention. And in fact at the back of my mind as I wrote the piece was the hope that this had been done but sitting here on the other side of the planet, I did not have the info at hand.
He pointed me to an article entitled “From Park(ing) Day, to Bersih 4, to Pakatan Harapan” at http://aliran.com/newsletters/2015-newsletters/from-parking-day-to-bersih-4-to-pakatan-harapan/, where I learned:
- Penang has already done it in 2015.
- As far as they know, George Town is the first city in Malaysia to celebrate Park(ing) Day.
How it worked in 2015 *
44 teams of Penangites were involved in creating mini pop-up public parks on 50 parking lots scattered around the heritage zone. From 7am to 7pm, a small percentage of the 2,886 on-street parking spaces in the inner city, each measuring 144 sq ft, hence totalling some 10 acres of the city, were reclaimed and converted from parking lots into mini public parks!
One of the lots in Love Lane was converted into a lovely garden with a pond!
Argus Lane had a garden with a pergola with overhanging creepers. One could sit below it, have a cuppa, relax, and perhaps read a book. Or watch the people and traffic go by.
And at the junction of Chulia Lane and Chulia Street, an overturned car, the universal symbol of Park(ing) Day, was decorated with flowers and plants, as though it was a massive flower pot.
Elsewhere, a fitness class, a still-life art session and a wood-working demonstration were held in the pop-up parks during the morning, when it was not so hot.
Congratulations to the Majlis Bandaran Pulau Pinang (MBPP) and to the Penang Institute (PI), specifically Stuart MacDonald, a PI Fellow and head of its Urban Studies Unit, for this refreshing initiative.
Yes, by nightfall, the pop-up parks had to be dismantled and the parking lots restored, to be filled the next morning and for the remaining days of the year by…a car!
But, no! 10 acres of the city do not need to be reserved for cars and other vehicles. Park(ing) Day shows that it can be turned greener.
Are Penangites interested to reclaim their inner city? Obviously they must rely on public transport, leave their cars at home, cycle, or walk more if they want to have more green in the inner city.
Indeed, why should there be so much built-up areas, not to mention the high-rise buildings, in the city? Ready for the debate? And the campaign to make the city greener not just for one day, but for real, throughout the year? No doubt, the clever little effort to green George Town instantaneously with pop-up parks has spurred discussion of longer-term plans.
Look the full text — and the graphics! – http://aliran.com/newsletters/2015-newsletters/from-parking-day-to-bersih-4-to-pakatan-harapan/
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton