Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Park(ing) Day Prizes

So far we have two delectable prizes to award to the best parks around the city and are currently combing the neighborhood for more. If you're a local business and would like to donate a prize, please let us know.

The first will be a gift certificate from Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream and Tea Room, one of our sponsors last year as well.

The second confirmed prize will come from mini-empire artisan baking. If you came to the central park last year, you may have had a chance to sample some of their earlier work at the award-winning zen-cakes and zines park.

Also, make sure to stop by our Park(ing) Day installation in the empty storefront at 7th and Jackson during this Thursday's art walk, September 2nd, to try a few of the treats that mini-empire's is donating!

More prizes will be announced as they are confirmed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Park #4 - Alleycat Acres

I came in last night -- or, technically, this morning - and checked my email, only to find an application for our fourth park, by the good urban farmers at Alleycat Acres. I suppose they don't really need an introduction, but here is a good story at the Seattle Post Globe about the group's genesis.

This is only one of the many websites posting stories about this fantastic group, as anyone who has been reading over the last few months can attest. A few months ago I posted the video that GOOD magazine produced about their first farm up on beacon hill, and I've been known to name drop them while writing mean emails about McDonald's localwashing campaign.

In short, I couldn't be happier about them participating in the Park(ing) Day Central Park. Keep an eye on them though, they might end up taking over the whole space and turning it into a farm!

If you want to join them and others at our Park(ing) Day Central Park, just download the registration form.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Park #3 - Alloy Design Group

We just received word that park #3 will be hosted by Alloy Design Group, a design/build firm operating out of the Central District.

While the specifics of their space remain undisclosed -- though there have been intimations of a tetherball park -- a quick look through their website shows professional work like this:

I doubt I can persuade them to build a quarter-size mockup of any of their professional work, but am excited to have designers of this caliber participating in the event.

You can download the registration form to build your own park here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PPL and Feet First at 1st Thursday Art Walk

And guess what we'll be doing? That's right, promoting Park(ing) Day.

Thursday, September 2nd, we will be setting up in a vacant storefront at the corner of 7th and Jackson in the International District, thanks to Christa Thomas of the brite collective and WKND, one of the artists selected by the Seattle Storefronts program to set up shop in a vacant space.

We will be setting up a PARK similar to those which people will build on Park(ing) Day and make a push to sign up more participants.

Why, one might wonder, are we going to promote an event that is, in part, centered in Capitol Hill, in the I.D.? For one, the I.D. is lacking in open space and is on the verge of making a move to increase it. A recent pro-parks levy has provided funding to expand Hing Hay Park into the area now occupied by the former post office. Secondly, with increasing interest in redeveloping the southern portion of the city into an area with parks, green streets, and mixed-use housing, now is an opportune time to try and reach out to the community to ensure that their voices are heard when designs come into being. Since Park(ing) Day is all about community engagement, Christa and some of her associates, like Nin Truong, hope to use the opportunity to connect with neighborhood residents.

To do this, the plan is to help promote Park(ing) Day all around the city, to provide a space to show how small groups envision parks, and to do a follow-up Park(ing) Day event on Saturday, September 18th. Christa has also graciously offered to have the winners of the citywide best park competition set up there work in her storefront for a month or so after the event (here are all the winners from last year).

[grand prize winning park from last year, photo by Signal to Noise]

And this is just a hint at the extent of potential Park(ing) Day festivities for 2010. An event for the evening of Friday, September 17th is being discussed with the good people from Streets for All Seattle. Check back early next week for more information.

All of this notwithstanding, the major part of Park(ing) Day is community participation, so if you'd like to build your own miniature park, download the registration form and get to designing!

Central Park Flyer

Thanks are owed to several folks for cooking up this flyer: Brett Wiseman drew the original art for us last year and Web Crowell added some pertinent information. Mel Burchett, one of the two ladies hosting [stories from] the table at belmont and pine, reworked it for this year's event.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Park #2 -- Office Nomads

Upon opening my mailbox earlier this evening, I found an application from the good folks at Office Nomads for their Park(ing) Day park. This makes it the second year in a row that they have participated in the Central Park; here is a photo of their co-working space from last year.

One of the highlights of their park is that they will provide wi-fi access to anyone who needs internet access during the day. So if you'd like to participate and still have some work to do, their co-working park is the perfect place for you. I would also like to say that I especially welcome their participation because their business is founded on re-envisioning space. While Park(ing) Day is about converting unfriendly outdoor spaces to inviting places, I would say Office Nomads is about doing the same for the office environment: as a reformed high-rise worker, I can vouch for the difference in the two settings.

And not to show all my cards, but emails regarding a park being hosted by a design journal that participated last year have been circulating. Here's the registration form if you'd like to build a park too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

McDonald's Follow-up

Just realized I have yet to receive a response from the ad agency responsible for those McDonald's local food ads, so I just sent this message off:

Ms. Yamaguchi and Ms. Madison,

I have yet to receive a response from my previous message (forwarded below) and thought I would write again in case it got lost in the daily shuffle. As you may know, earlier this week the Seattle City Council passed changes to the urban agriculture code, making it possible for groups involved in local production to grow and sell their crops.

Urban Farm Hub has a good summary here:


Since both McDonald's and OMD/DDB appear to have an interest in local food production, it seems that this would be the perfect time to come out to one of Alleycat Acres' sites and take a look around. Sean, the founder, is very excited about the opportunity to show you both what is happening at the grassroots level.

Hope to hear back from you soon,

Again, I invite you to send your own messages as well. Here is contact info for the three ladies that appear to be spearheading this advertising campaign.

Laurel Yamaguch (DDB ad agency) Laurel.Yamaguchi (at) sea.ddb (dot) com
Paisley Madison (McDonald's, local) paisley.madison (at) us.mcd (dot) com
Tara Abrams-Levine (OMD, marketing firm) tara.abrams-levine (at) omd (dot) com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Park(ing) Day Parks

So far we only have one park officially registered for Park(ing) Day Central Park but I know there are lots of applications out there. Nine have been downloaded, plus I emailed the file out to around forty individuals and groups. Several other groups have contacted me saying they want to build parks too. Anyhow, Park(ing) Day is a month (minus a day) away, so get those applications in if you want to participate. I believe we had about twenty last year and I'm trying to get it up to thirty this year.

JT from 12 hr notice will be performing along with one his fellow DJs. Do you have a band and want to perform as well? Let me know!

"The Lonely Kazoo" Thursday Night

Thursday night, August 19th, marks the opening performance of the rock opera The Lonely Kazoo at the Fremont Abbey. Here's the facebook invitation. I could write an explanation of the show but the reader would be much better served by looking through their website, which includes both music and a better explanation than I can provide here. I will say, though, that I support their endeavor on both ideological and aesthetic levels, that I will be at the show, and that I can't wait to see where they go with this and future projects.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stories From The Table Wednesday Morning

Look for the table at the corner of Belmont and Pine on Wednesday morning for the next installment of Stories from the Table.

Monday evening was my first time in attendance and I thought it was great. Lots of people asked what was going on and several stopped by, left contact information, and "signed up." In this case, "signing up" meant to write or draw something you would support. It could be an idea for that space -- I saw P-patches, off leash human parks, bus terminals, setc -- or just an idea in general, like "World Peace Day."

So if you're walking downtown in the morning, head out a few minutes early and see what the hosts are asking this time.

[photo by Michael Dobbie]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stories From The Table at 6 PM

Come by the People's Parking Lot this evening at 6:00 PM for the second installment of Stories From the Table. Passersby are invited to stop by the card table

and visit, share a thought, have a talk, a rant, write something, maybe draw...or just bring [the hosts] food.

you, we, us (& them) may end up starting something here...and if not, at the very least, you'll have been part of a brief capitol hill moment, mooment? maybe movement?

Here are a few photos from the first event last Thursday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

McDonalds and DDB

A few weeks ago I was spending my time harping on McDonald's local food advertising campaign. I sent an email off asking about the campaign and just received a response from DDB's Seattle office:

Hi Keith, I understand you reached out to OMD regarding McDonald’s campaign in Western Washington called “From Here”. Is there something specific we can answer for you?

Laurel Yamaguchi

Laurel.Yamaguchi (at) sea.ddb.com
1000 2nd Avenue
Suite 1000
Seattle WA 98104
Office: 206 621 6482
Fax: 206 223 6309

This message led to my finding the official press release on grist, which also included contact information for the local McDonald's contact:

Paisley Madison.(425) 242-2409 or
paisley.madison (at) us.mcd.com

I was very pleased to have this contact information, but not being a hard-hitting investigative journalist (like, uh, King 5's Gary Chittim...see link above to King 5's celebratory coverage of the advertisments), I didn't know exactly what to do with it. "Shame on you guys" doesn't work so I thought I would invite them out to see some real local food production, like what Alleycat Acres does, so they could see the movement they were co-opting in person. Anyhow, here's my response and I hope you write one too:

Hi Laurel,

Thanks for the message.

First, I'm not sure if my initial email included any biographical information. I'm a second-year Ph.D student in the Built Environment program at UW, with an interest in consumerism and urban space, so I'm spending some time looking in to advertising. I also do some community arts organizing through a modest blog I run, called the People's Parking Lot.

This ad campaign is especially interesting because while I don't doubt the validity of the claims, I know many folks involved with local food/urban agriculture who see this as outright co-optation of work they do daily, for which they are typically unpaid. In fact, as municipal regulations stand, they can't even sell food grown in the city; they can only consume it themselves or donate it to food banks (I believe the city council is currently discussing and might have even ratified legislation that will change this for the better, allowing them to create CSAs or sell at famer's markets, cooperatives, etc).

To see McDonald's "highlighting" what appears to be a coincidental relationship (please correct me if I'm wrong) to locally-sourced food is frustrating in light of such work, so I was hoping to find the agency responsible for the campaign, and if they were local, maybe invite some of the managers and designers out to see a real local food operation. Here's a video produced by GOOD magazine of my favorite urban agriculture collective, Alleycat Acres:


The founder of the group, Sean Conroe, is copied on this message and though I'm writing this without his knowledge, I'm sure he would love to show you all around.

For Ms. Madison at McDonald's, whom I have also copied: I am curious if McDonald's has any plans to develop this ostensible commitment to local food, or if this is a one-off situation reflecting what's currently popular among many younger Seattle residents? Furthermore, I think you too might appreciate seeing Alleycat Acres in action, as they convert vacant lots and backyards into small farms.

Thank you both for your time, and I look forward to your responses.

Keith Harris
Ph.D. in the Built Environment program
University of Washington

I'll share any responses I receive. In the meantime, back to Park(ing) Day Central Park!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Park #1

I just received an application for the first Park(ing) Day Central Park mini-park, in record time (I just sent out and posted the application three days ago). The Mad Tea Party in the Park -- no relation to the, you know, assbackwards Tea Party -- will be hosted by two graduate students from Antioch University's Center for Creative Change.

If you want to join them, and I hope you do, you can download an application in the upper right-hand corner of this page. I apologize for the amateur download site but it was the first one I found.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Park(ing) Day Application!

With further ado, the Park(ing) Day Central Park application is available for download here:


The event is Friday, September 17th and we are planning an extended design weekend (September 18th and 19th) in the International District; more details about this event will be shared as they develop.

Please browse through the archive from September 2009 to see coverage of the event from last year.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Howell Collective Garden (@ Seven Hills Park)

From an email I received earlier today, regarding the urban farm at Seven Hills Park, the former site of a parking lot:

Hi all!

The fences are down and the garden is technically open, wide open! Our opening celebration is set for Thursday, September 9th from 6:30-8 in the evening and we hope you can join us! For more details, please check our blog howellcollective.wordpress.com in the coming weeks.

Shannon and I will be up at the site of the Howell Collective P-Patch this Wednesday, 8/4 at 10am. We will first be meeting with Virginia Hassinger from the Parks Department. This short meeting will be a chance for us to ask questions and suggestions about how to prepare the space for the opening. Afterwards, we will be painting signs, hanging signs, and staking off growing areas and pathways. If you are adrift with no schedule or constraints (ie 9-5 work day) please please please come by and help out. I will be bringing twine, paint, and extra wood. If you have stakes, additional wood scraps, or paint brushes please bring them.

I hope to see you there.

I walked over and snapped a few photos of their new space.

Looking West from 16th Ave.

Water Access!

Looking East from the alley between 15th and 16th Ave.

Questions for the organizers? Email Lindsay at howellcollective (at) gmail.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Conflux Festival 2010

A member of the facebook group (thanks, Michael!) just posted this a few hours ago; it's a call for entries for the Conflux Festival, to be held in NYC from October 8-10.

From their website:

...Conflux will provide a platform for artists, urban geographers, technologists and others to organize and produce innovative activities dedicated to the examination, celebration and (re)construction of everyday urban life.

Conflux proposals must be submitted by August 15 ($10 administrative fee). All proposals will be judged based on artistic merit, originality, and feasibility. Check the FAQ for guidelines and details.

This year’s festival is based on themes of INVESTIGATION, ACTION and TRANSMISSION. Conflux participants will transform New York’s East Village into a laboratory for creative experimentation and civic action. Through public interventions, artist-facilitated walks and tours, interactive performances and installations, bike and subway expeditions, and more, Conflux artists will confront and rewrite the rules of urban public space...

I am reminded of "negative space," the brite collective's Park(ing) Day charrette from last year, that involved a walk around capitol hill and drawing mental maps to highlight memorable and easily forgotten spaces around the neighborhood (cf. Kevin Lynch's The Image of the City for a classic study of this sort.)

Entries for Conflux are due August 15th and the submission fee is just $10, so if you have a burning idea, I think it's worth submitting. I could easily be convinced to coauthor a proposal if someone out there has something in mind...