Parks and alleyways. While both features can typically be found in towns and cities, large and small, they aren’t usually one and the same.
All of that changed in the heart of Doylestown in September.
A collaboration between the Temple University Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, the volunteer Park(ing) Day team, residents and civic organizations transformed Donaldson Alley (Donaldson Street and East State Street in Doylestown Borough) into “a greener, people-friendly pocket park in heart of town,” according to Associate Professor Baldev Lamba, chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, who spearheaded the project.
Park(ing) for People, a temporary “pop up” park that will fill Donaldson Alley was opened to the public from Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17. This community outreach effort was part of Park(ing) Day, a global event designed to bring attention to the need for more urban open space, spark discussions about how public space is created and allocated and improve the quality of the places in which we live and work, according to Lamba.
“The goal of this project is to engage and celebrate pedestrians through a place created for people to ‘park’ instead of cars,” said Lamba. “This is third year for this event in Doylestown. Last year’s Pop Up Park occupied parking spaces in front of Starbucks right in the center of town and was a hit for the whole community.”
According to Lamba, Park(ing) for People is a true partnership between himself, Temple Ambler student volunteers; the Park(ing) Day team of architects, horticulturists and landscape architects; and local businesses, civic organizations and Doylestown Borough.
“It’s a wonderfully energizing, fun and rewarding experience,” he said. “This year, the outpouring of encouragement for yet another Pop Up Park and offers of help from the community, I think, shows just how amazing people in the Doylestown truly are.”
According to Lamba, Park(ing) for People 2017 embraced the alleyway space “to improve the quality of the urban human habitat around it.”
“PARK(ing) Day highlights the need for more community gathering spaces. With that in mind, this year the Doylestown community experienced the transformation of Donaldson Street into a ‘passeggiata,’ a pedestrian ally as a gathering place for people, full of plants and seating, which will feature story times, music and other free events throughout the weekend,” he said. “All of the material in the park will be returned to the donors or reused within the community. Our park is 100 percent sustainable.”
Several free family-friendly events were planned around the pop up park, said Lamba.
The grand opening, which included a concert by Fools and Prophets, began at 12 p.m. on Friday, September 15. A concert by the Cherry Lane Duo was also be held on September 15.
On Saturday, September 16 community members were invited to join in “Morning Yoga in the Park” followed by “Story Time with the Doylestown Library and “Fun with Busy Bee Toys." Sunday, September 17 included “Story Time with Miss Larissa," Kids’ Yoga and Yoga in the Park. “Fun with Bubbles with Nerice from Busy Bee Toys” was also part of the day's events.
Lamba is no stranger to the concept of pop up gardens. He coordinated the award winning design of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s first pop up garden in 2011. Located at 20th and Market Streets, the garden took its inspiration from Temple’s award winning Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit — Écolibrium – French Traditions/Modern Interpretations — from the same year. While that park was a touch larger — 32,000 square feet — the message and premise is the same as the Doylestown pop up parks, Lamba said.
“It’s about changing mindsets. It’s showing people that urban centers can have areas that are green, innovative and inviting,” he said. “It builds a sense of community. It’s such a unique concept. No one expects to see a park just spring up in a parking lot or alley, and our temporary parks have been in the most active parts of the borough.”