Protests often are the spark behind instigating change. Far beyond marching and shouting, they can be expressive, optimistic and fun. To engage others, all you need is just enough structure so they know what they’re getting into, and inviting enough to be able to shape it with you. Follow these ideas for making your own insta-park.
According to: Andrew Boyd, veteran activist and co-editor of Beautiful Trouble, a book and web “toolbox” with hundreds of pointers learned from decades of creative interventions.
Park(ing) Day is a good example of a direct action that anyone can do. You simply put a few quarters in the meter, roll out some AstroTurf, add friends, and voila -- a parking space becomes an urban park. Have a picnic, invite people to read. Last year almost one thousand of these “parks” were created around the world (see parkingday.org).
Use the law, don’t be afraid of it
It’s totally legal. You’re just parking yourselves instead of a car. And of course the 1st amendment has your back (the right to peaceful assembly).
Stay on message
Don’t just do something cute and fun; tie it to a concrete change you want to see. Will you hand out fliers for a local park initiative? Calm traffic? Whatever your goal, your message needs to be thoughtful and clear.
Simple rules can have grand results
It doesn’t take intricate planning to make something cool happen. Think of “the wave” at a football game - it’s a collective human expression that’s easy to follow. And if you want others to bring something to the park, have it be from around the house, like a folding chair or food. And be sure there’s enough to share – you never know how many might join in.
Exercise people’s “hope muscle”
Seeing an unexpected park in the middle of the city is beautiful. It’s important to see, feel and touch what it would be like to live in a society of your ideals. The lunch counter sit-ins in the '60s are a more intense example of direct action with white and black people simply sitting down together even while food was dumped on them. They were bringing into being the world they wanted to live in, not just protesting a world they saw as bad.
For more on guerrilla gardening, artistic vigils, and not dressing like a protester, visit beautifultrouble.org
“When the meter expired, we rolled up the sod, packed away the bench and the tree, and gave the block a good sweep, and left."
Image courtesy of parkingday.org