A Virginia Tech student put change in a College Avenue parking meter Friday for her nine rolls of sod, two trees, a tiny cactus and some lawn chairs.
A hammock was strung between the meter and a parking sign in honor of (PARK)ing Day, an international event where metered parking spaces around the world are temporarily transformed into public parks.
Lida Aljabar, president of the Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association, teamed up with several members of the organization to bring this project to Blacksburg.
Started in 2005 by the San Francisco art and design studio Rebar, (PARK)ing Day has rapidly spread across the globe.
“We’re taking it back,” Aljabar said. “This is valuable land and they’re just paving it over.”
Aljabar said the paved spaces were not contributing to the social fabric of the community.
“What we’re doing is going into this space, legally paying the meter, and we’re creating more of a public, civic space where we can have impromptu social interactions,” she said.
“Just something to create a more inviting, more public environment in our community, to bring it back to the citizens.”
Passers-by had mixed reactions to the event, but many stopped by to sit in the grass and enjoy the day.
Aljabar said she wanted to get people to question society’s commitment to motor vehicles and think about how they use public space for cars rather than people.
Several people stopped by and gave feedback, including horticulture major Adam Huff, who thought that using turf and plants for the event was a good idea.
The event also brought a moment of peace. Chanel Joss, a junior and local yoga instructor, saw the space as an opportunity to take a relaxing break from the day.
“It’s very invigorating and inspiring,” Joss said while performing yoga. “It’s a much better use of a parking space.”
But they weren’t protesting against the parking lots or trying to have them removed, Aljabar said.
She said the group was trying to promote alternative forms of transportation.
“We’re just trying to invite people to come hang out with us at our park,” Aljabar said. “It’s just a really fun, playful way to create awareness about this issue.”