January 24, 2018

London England's "People Parking Bay"

From Time Out in London comes this unfailingly forward story about Brenda Puech. Brenda believes in sustainability, and she had a great idea. She went to buy an annual parking permit from her local council, but the council refused to give one to her because she did not have a car, and was not going to get one. So left with a parking space in front of her house, Brenda “decided to take the initiative and  “convert a parking space directly outside my home into a garden”.
Brenda noted that in her area of London there are twice as many households that don’t own cars as there are ones that do. The space she chose for her garden was “usually vacant, so I knew that using it would cause minimal inconvenience to my car-owning neighbours. On May 26, at the start of the summer, I officially launched the People Parking Bay: a patch of artificial grass the size of a car, with flowerpots, a bench and table, a bright red umbrella and a large sign that read “You’re welcome to park yourself on the bench.”
Brenda’s parking spot as public park with bench went viral. “People used the Parking Bay as a resting point on the way back from shopping or cycling; mums used it to feed their babies; locals watered the plants. One couple had their first date there. Some people left books and it became a mini-library. People even used the bay as a community noticeboard. I’m proud of how it became a focal point, where you’d see complete strangers smiling and talking to each other”. 
Brenda even left a visitor book for people to sign on the table. Five books were filled with comments within a month. Most comments were about the brilliance of the idea. But the local Council caught wind of the parking spot as public park, and an eviction notice arrived. Not to be thwarted, Brenda simply moved her parking spot as public park to differing locations in the neighbourhood with stealth like precision. But when the officials finally caught up to the moving park, it was game over.
As Brenda observes:  There’s no mini-garden now: I’ve had to bring it into my front yard, and sadly it’s not open to the public. When a parklet like mine has been so transformational for a local community, it’s such a shame the council insists on disposing of it. But if I hadn’t set up the People Parking Bay, people wouldn’t have realised it was even a possibility. Sometimes you have to take matters in your hands”.
You can check out Brenda’s website at the link available here.

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