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Parking in Philadelphia will be a little harder to come by today, as local spaces citywide are turned into micro parks.

During "Park(ing) Day," an international event started in 2005, area activists will convert over 30 metered parking spaces across the Philadelphia area into small urban parks.

According to the event's organizers, it is part of an effort to increase awareness of the need for urban pedestrian green space.

When it comes to urban streetscapes, "people should be the focus, not automobiles," said Pam Zimmerman, who has organized Philadelphia's Park(ing) Day for the past two years.

The event, which is part art exposition and part activist display, was started in San Francisco and has expanded around the world since.

Though in other cities "park-ers" have to feed the meter like any other parking space user, Zimmerman has worked with the Philadelphia Parking Authority to make sure meters at designated Park(ing) spots are bagged to prevent cars.

The PPA has been "fantastic," in its willingness to cooperate with participants, Zimmerman said.

Susanne Fogt, a second-year graduate student in the City and Regional Planning program of PennDesign, is organizing PennDesign's spot at 34th and Walnut streets.

"We're trying to raise awareness about how much space cars take up and what else could go in that space," Fogt said.

Though Fogt said her team was still finalizing their design, they hope to create a relaxing spot where people can take a break from the daily grind. They are having sod delivered and are setting up a grill and lawn games.

"It doesn't need to be elaborate," Fogt said. "It just needs to get the point across that this space could be used differently."

She added that people often forget that cars create "walls" along streets.

According to Zimmerman, there were a few incidents of distraught drivers shouting at participants last year. However, she added, the "pocket-parks" are spread across the city and should not be a large inconvenience.

"Most people are really excited to have a place to sit and chat," Zimmerman said.

She described one park last year that was simply fake turf and a long park bench, where strangers sat and chatted during the day.

"It's really just a fun way to re-imagine what you can do with an urban street," Fogt concluded.

And what will Penn Design do with the sod at the end of the day?

"We haven't quite figured that out yet," she said. "Maybe we can do something creative inside of Meyerson."

There will be other "parks" around campus, including one organized by the Office of Sustainability at 36th and Walnut streets and the University City District at 40th and Walnut streets.

For more information on Park(ing) Day, including locations of other parks, visit

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