Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
You don't have to look further than Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi to get a sense of public sentiment for parking lots. No one really likes them, yet they are an inherent by-product of American car culture.
In Sunday's New York Times, Michael Kimmelman writes that one study estimates there are eight parking spots for every car in the country. That's a lot of black asphalt.
But Kimmelman argues there's a design opportunity to be had in all that empty space.
For starters we ought to take these lots more seriously, architecturally. Many architects and urban planners don't. Beyond greener designs and the occasional celebrity-architect garage, we need to think more about these lots as public spaces, as part of the infrastructure of our streets and sidewalks, places for various activities that may change and evolve, because not all good architecture is permanent. Hundreds of lots already are taken over by farmers' markets, street-hockey games, teenage partiers and church services. We need to recognize and encourage diversity. This is the idea behind Parking Day, a global event, around since 2005, that invites anybody and everybody to transform metered lots. Each year participants have adapted hundreds of them in dozens of countries, setting up temporary health clinics and bike-repair shops, having seminars and weddings.
...Of course suburban and urban lots are not all the same, and it's glib to say we should just buy fewer cars. Yes, we ought to wean ourselves from automobiles in favor of public transportation. We rely too much on cars because our public transit systems are often so abysmal. But cars aren't going away anytime soon, certainly not in the suburbs or in cities like Los Angeles, and we can't just wish away lots in which to park them. John Brinckerhoff Jackson, the landscape writer who died in 1996, years ago pleaded that the parking lot be treated like the city common, with its own community values.
Here in Minnesota we certainly have our fair share of parking lots, and for that matter, parking ramps. Many of them have been taken over for neighborhood farmers' markets. But what else could they be used for? Is there an opportunity here that we're missing?(1 Comments)
Twin Cities playwright Katie Ka Vang is currently in the University of Minnesota hospital after being diagnosed with stage four anaplastic T-cell large lymphoma.
According to Vang's Caring Bridge website, a PET scan revealed there were tumors in about 60-70% of her body.
For patients with this degree of lymphona, there is a 50% chance that they will live longer than five years. Doctors say Vang's young age and her strong spirit are working in her favor.
Vang is also keeping a video blog of her experience, which can be found here. In her most recent clip she ended with the following.
I really appreciate and value all of the great energy that everyone has been sending me. It's really been helping my spirit alot, and I don't think that I can get through this without everyone's support. I am truly humbled by this, and I ask that you keep the prayers and good thoughts coming, because they are working tremendously for me.
The hospital has set a tentative release date of Tuesday for Vang, with the expectation that she will be strong enough to walk by then and can continue treatment from home.
Information about making donations to offset Vang's medical expenses can be found at the Caring Bridge site.