Below are some of the most common questions about Columbus PARK(ing) Day. Please read them thoroughly!
Have a question and don’t see it answered here? Have a look on the Columbus PARK(ing) Day DIY Planning Network website. The DIY site is designed specifically to help participants connect with each other and share information, resources and experiences. There are some good discussion fora there. Harness the collective wisdom and power of Columbus PARK(ing) Day participants and post a question to the community!
Participation, Permission and Legality
Q: What is Columbus PARK(ing) Day?
A: Columbus PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event where artists, activists, and citizens independently (but simultaneously) turn metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks and other spaces for people to enjoy. PARK(ing) Day is a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.
Q: How Many PARK installations where there last year? Do you still count the PARKs?
A: There were a lot of Columbus PARK(ing) Day installations last year! We have not kept track of numbers since 2011, but as you can see, the event is truly global in scale.
We no longer count the PARKs, as we have discovered that many people (mostly lazy journalists) are only interested in numbers, and not the qualitative effect of the project and it’s impact on cities around the world.
Q: When is Columbus PARK(ing) Day?
A: PARK(ing) Day is an annual event that occurs on the third Friday in September.
Q: Can I hold PARK(ing) Day on a day other than the third Friday in September?
A: Holding PARK(ing) Day on a day other than the third Friday in September is a bit like celebrating Christmas in April or Yom Kippur in January, or making the Hajj during the month of Rajab instead of Dhū al-Ḥijja. Okay Columbus PARK(ing) Day is not nearly as important as any of those holidays, but you get the point. If you are inspired and motivated by PARK(ing) Day, we ask that you sustain that enthusiasm until the following year. If you have a good reason, like your country’s independence day falls on PARK(ing) Day, then we will allow you to hold the event on another, later date. But if you do so you MUST reference in your event and materials that Columbus PARK(ing) Day falls on the third Friday of September, and that you are holding your event on a different day for a good reason.
Q: How do I participate in Columbus PARK(ing) Day?
A: The best way to participate in PARK(ing) Day is to design and build a PARK. It’s easy – you don’t need to be an artist, community activist or have any special training to do a PARK, but you do need to be aware of your local regulations and do you best to stay within the law. We’ve provided resources here to help like-minded people connect and get started building PARKs in their neighborhoods, and a good place to start is to join the DIY Network and see if there is an existing group organizing an event in your city. But remember: except for cities where organizers seek permits from local officials, PARK(ing) Day is essentially an unsanctioned guerilla art action.
Q: Is this legal?
A: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The specifics depend on your local legal codes and it is your responsibility to check the law. In San Francisco it appears to be legal to do other things in a parking spot besides park a vehicle, but in some municipalities (New York City, for example) alternate activities are expressly prohibited. It’s up to you to be informed and flexible when it comes to obeying your local law. Past participants have reported that maintaining an attitude of community service, generosity and inclusion has helped assuage the concerns of local authorities. It also helps to inform any law enforcement official that you encounter about your intentions to leave the parking spot in a better/cleaner condition that you found it. So be prepared to clean up after yourselves, and hey, why not sweep the whole block! After all, it’s your city.
We are not aware of anyone being arrested for participating in PARK(ing) Day, though there have been reports of PARKs being shut down by the authorities, usually following a complaint from a neighbor.
Q: If it’s “illegal” in my city, should I not bother trying to participate?
A: It’s your call, but we do encourage you to look for creative ways to work with/within the law. The first PARK(ing) installation was only in existence for two hours because the meter was in a two-hour parking zone in downtown San Francisco, but it was enough. In other cities like Los Angeles, the city asks that you apply for a permit to participate, but after that you’re good to go. See what you can do with what you’ve got, and if you’ve got nothing, try to organize a movement to change that.
Q: Do I have to get permission to participate?
A: “Permission” in this case means permission to use the “PARK(ing) Day” trademark. If you are an individual or group of individuals with no commercial interests, you do not need permission from Rebar or anyone associated with this site. You may need to get a permit, depending on the city you’re planning to participate in. Check your local laws and connect with others who are active in your city on the PARK(ing) Day DIY Planning Network.
The License Agreement and Business Participation
Q: What’s with the license agreement, and how do I “agree” to it?
A: The PARK(ing) Day License allows you to legally to use the creative concept and the term “PARK(ing) Day,” which is a registered trademark of Rebar. As you will see when you read the license, it is designed to limit the commercial exploitation of the event, and keep participation focused on the principles of community service, creativity, experimentation, generosity and play. PARK(ing) Day is about making new experimental forms of public space for public activities, not for commercial uses or promotions.
Notice that the license only gives you the legal right to use the trademark “PARK(ing) Day,” it does not give the legal right or a permit to occupy a metered parking space! It is your responsibility to research the legal regulations in your area and, if necessary, contact the local authorities for permission.
By participating in Columbus PARK(ing) Day, you agree to the terms of the license agreement.
Q: My business wants to participate. Do I need permission?
A: Anyone (individual, group or business) can build a PARK within the terms of the license agreement; that is, a PARK that is entirely non-commercial. This means no extra business signage, promotion or giveaways that promote a commercial enterprise (not even fliers, business cards, balloons or coupons). If you wish, you can use up to two of our PDF signs and fill in your business name as the PARK sponsor, but if you are interested in more exposure, please contact Rebar to discuss an extended license agreement. Email us at: participate at parkingday dot org.
Q: My business wants to sell goods/food/services in our PARK installation. Can we?
A: Participation by a business that intends to use a PARK(ing) Day installation as a commercial platform can be a complicated, because there are potentially other laws that govern commercial activity in public space. If you wish to sell something in your PARK, you’d probably need a street vendor license; if you want to sell food, you’d probably need to check the health codes, if you want sell alcohol you’ll need a liquor license, and compliance with these laws is, obviously, in addition to the permission you will need from Rebar to use the trademark.
Q: Why can’t I promote my business in a Columbus PARK(ing) spot? It’s right in front of my business location.
A: Because there’s already a lot of public space in the world dedicated to commercial and promotional interests. PARK(ing) Day is designed to celebrate people and their creativity, not to extend the commercial realm (further) into the public realm by creating elaborate, three-dimensional billboards. Instead of extending your business into the street, we suggest you look at your neighborhood from the perspective of a community member, and use the space to serve the public interest – a shady spot to read or eat lunch, an explanation of a local issue, a performance, or just a beautiful moment… get creative. Besides, happy neighbors create immeasurable goodwill for local businesses.