For at least one day, New Brunswick had far more than just four sister cities. Friday, September 18, 2015, was the annual Park(ing) Day celebration, where cities across the world take on-street parking spaces and turn them into public parklets. The students of Walk Bloustein Bike Bloustein (WBBB), the school’s pedestrian and cycling interest and advocacy group, were part of a consortium of Rutgers students, community organizers and county planners leading events in New Brunswick.
Since its beginning in San Francisco in 2005, Park(ing) Day has grown into a worldwide reclamation of public space. It is an open-source, community-driven event intended to create public discussion about the use of this space.
New Brunswick has held a Park(ing) Day for several years; the first was held in 2011 when members of WBBB set up chairs in a parking space on Easton Ave. Following a confrontation with the county engineer, WBBB leaders petitioned the council to hold an official Park(ing) Day celebration and in 2012, along with Middlesex County and the Rutgers chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Brunswick held its first official Park(ing) Day.
Park(ing) Day in New Brunswick has grown significantly since 2011. In 2015 three sites each consisting of multiple parking spaces were converted into pop-up parklets from 10am to 5pm. At 49 Bayard Street, two parking spaces were covered in astro turf and surrounded by homemade planters. Two homemade Adirondack chairs allowed people to lounge, while a stage offered yoga, pilates and meditation events. Slightly east on Bayard Street, across George Street and outside of Garden of Wellness Yoga and Healing, brightly colored plants, flowers and planters surrounded green space that offered yoga, seating and arts events such as live sculpture. Finally, on Livingston Avenue outside of Elijah’s Promise, an urban agriculture-themed parklet was created. Live demonstrations, such as “How to Create Your Own Vermiculture Compost,” filled the seven hours.