Passing motorists honked their approval of the urban oasis Cripe and partner Matt Nardella created outside Southport Grocery & Cafe. With a carpet of grass and border of plants, the two transformed a handful of metered parking spaces into picnic and gaming areas, reimagining the use of public space.
“It’s really about creating these pop-up parks,” said Cripe. “People ask, ‘What’s the value? What’s the benefit?’ It’s about community.”
Not everyone was convinced that street space should be occupied by anything other than cars, as evidenced by debate on Everyblock. While some appreciated the whimsy of the notion (picture people renting street space for a yoga class or game of bean bag toss), stating “I love a good paradigm shift,” others were unequivocally opposed to the concept: “This is just disrespectful to those who drive to get their life’s errands and activities done.”
Cripe is accustomed to such criticism. “There are always naysayers,” she noted. “Some people don’t like change.” But pointing to innovations such as the Internet, airplanes and, yes, even automobiles, she added, “Without change, we wouldn’t have anything.”