Park(ing) Day in Berkeley

Park(ing) Day was today. The first Park(ing) Day was in 2005. You celebrate it by turning a parking place into a park — as in the verb to park. In North Berkeley, around lunchtime, I came across a dozen Landscape Architecture grad students sitting around a long table full of food that filled up two parking places on Shattuck Avenue (a busy street). My big question was where the tables came from — that seemed like the hard part. From Wurster Hall (where the Landscape Architecture Department is). They invited me to join them and the whole thing was so interesting I couldn’t resist.

The food was very good. One person brought tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, and purslane picked that morning from his garden. Someone else brought homemade salsa.

You might think you could lay claim to a parking spot by putting money in the meter. Not in Berkeley. A parking cop came by and wondered what was going on. Someone had reported “a picnic,” the cop said. The cop left. Twenty minutes later he returned. Apparently there had been discussion about how to handle this. The ruling was you need a permit. Parking places are for cars, said the cop. Feeding the meters wasn’t enough. The cop gave the students 15 minutes to leave. At that point I left.