Today is PARK(ing) Day!

What will the streets of Dallas look like on Friday, September 16th? As parking spaces become scarce (in a few select areas), trees and plants may be a shock to the regular commuter; sculptures built from reclaimed materials may even appear absurd. But getting a little closer, you’ll notice a variety of interesting public spaces where once were parked empty vehicles.

In those “reclaimed spaces” you’ll be able to experience the creations of individuals of all backgrounds. Perhaps you’d like to critique the design of a local architect, or visit a pop-up museum of artifacts while the city’s architectural heritage looms overhead. For something a bit more exciting, walk down the sidewalk and watch a game of street soccer while learning how the power of sport can fight homelessness. Or — if you’re in the mood to keep walking — experience the city’s newest (and shortest-lived) trail: the 50-foot “Nano Park.”

Grab a lemonade and enjoy some watercolor painting, or stop by a “reading forest” for a book swap. If entertainment is what you’re looking for, over 30 local musicians and performers will appear on stages all over downtown. Of course, if you just want a place to enjoy the weather, plenty of creative lounges and relaxing gardens will pop up along the sidewalks. You might event bump into downtown residents or office workers and learn a little about the city around you.

This is all part of PARK(ing) Day, which began in San Francisco in 2006 as a social experiment to challenge our perceptions of public space. The annual event calls on citizens to reclaim streets and re-envision them as assets for community-building. The idea has spread around the world, and today PARK installations will pop up as far away as Iran, India, China and New Zealand. Ideas for the transformed spaces are limitless, but all have the goal of bringing people together. What would you put in a parking space?

Friday’s street transformations will only last a few hours, but the experiences made during the event (whether large or small) will affect the city as it continues to mature; the public spaces we envision today could have a lasting effect on the city of tomorrow.

Today in Dallas our city’s residents, businesses, and organizations will come together on common ground — once reserved for auto parking — to form a community. We hope to see you there!

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter (#parkingday #dallas) for the latest news throughout the event!