Urban Ecology

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Kevin O’Neil (left) and his 3-year-old son Tiger stopped at Park(ing) Day during their morning jog. Tiger was most interested in the chickens that George Boggs (shaking hands with O’Neil), a graduate student in the College Of Education, brought for the day. Photo by Peter Frey.

Visitors to downtown Athens found more than cars crowding the on-street spaces one Friday in September. At the intersection of Broad Street and College Avenue, two spots were taken up by fresh vegetables and herbs. The roadside garden, created by UGA students and local nonprofit organizations, was part of Park(ing) Day, a national event launched in San Francisco in 2005 to emphasize the need for more urban open space. “The goal was to inspire conversation about what public green space is and what it can consist of,” says Craig Page (AB ’07), director of local nonprofit P.L.A.C.E. (Promoting Local Agriculture & Cultural Experience). “We liked the idea of a garden right outside the kitchen screen door.” Third-year students in the College of Environment and Design contributed to the Athens celebration by entering garden designs in a class competition. The winning design by Jonathan Franklin, a junior from Chattanooga, and Ji Soo Park, a junior from Marietta, included three parts—a kitchen and living area, a bedroom and an outdoor patio. Each section was constructed out of reused materials and plants donated by UGArden. Throughout the day the park attracted crowds, and local nonprofit Food Not Bombs provided a vegetarian lunch for those who stopped by. Page hopes this year’s success will make Park(ing) Day an annual Athens event and will spur further discussion about creative urban development. “We want people to start asking, ‘If these two parking spaces can be a garden, why couldn’t an entire parking lot be one?’” he says. For more on Park(ing) Day, go to http://www.parkingday.org.