PARK(ing) Day Creativity to Last All Year

From the steps of Hillman Library, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd addressed a crowd gathered to celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2019 on Friday, Sept. 20.

“A little inspiration, many doses of imagination and people joining together have the power to reinvent the humble parking space into something that becomes a gathering point for social and artistic interactions,” said Cudd. She thanked the Center for Creativity and the Department of Parking, Transportation and Services, which together sponsored the national event for the third year.

At the Pittsburgh and regional campuses, University groups transformed small urban spaces into areas of possibility, where participants were invited to kick back in a cardboard living room, indulge in a smoothie or encounter random acts of poetry.

“Today among the visible, physical proof of what can be achieved when we exercise our creative side, this is the perfect time to kick off the Year of Creativity,” said Cudd.

‘What one can do with a parking space’

In Oakland, the event took place along the west side of Schenley Drive. Just south of Forbes Avenue, the School of Medicine’s Center for Biologic Imaging encouraged passersby to use markers and stamps to create small flags, which they hung on ribbon around the perimeter of their setup.

“I was very surprised at what one can do with a parking space — they always seem so small when you try and parallel park,” said Donna Stolz, associate professor and associate director of the center. She hopes to find places around the campus to hang the flags.

Just next door, the Office of the Provost offered free headshot photos for students, faculty, staff and alumni to use when creating profiles on Pitt Commons. The new digital platform aims to facilitate collaboration and communications among the Pitt community.

Farther along the street, participants painted flowerpots at the Plant to Plate space; the student-run organization enables students to plant, grow and harvest fresh produce. It’s sponsored in part by a grant from the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, which brought its own solar panels to power a blender to make smoothies for visitors.

Pilfered parking passes

At a poetry space set up in front of Posvar Hall by the Office of University CommunicationsDavid DeJong, vice chancellor for human resources, Poet Laureate Emeritus of the Year of Humanities and enthusiastic haiku poet, recited “P9,” a haiku he composed for the occasion:

“Pilfered parking pass
Produces perfect platform:
POW! Pop-up poem.”

In addition to recitations, participants could write their own poetry or use a whiteboard or magnets to collaborate, or read books from the Department of EnglishUniversity of Pittsburgh Press and University Library System (ULS). ULS contributed challenged books including “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss and “Gypsy Ballads” by Federico Garcia Lorca, in support of Banned Books Week.

The Archives and Special Collections department of ULS had its own space to give people a chance to press their own buttons featuring images from the archive — and a replica of the information booth from the “Peanuts” comic strip. “I usually get requests, like footage of Tony Dorsett,” said Miriam Meislik, a media curator who staffed the booth using an iPad.

Regional representation

At Pitt–Johnstown’s Owen Library, students, faculty and staff used colored chalk to decorate the library’s patio. “We thought the event was in keeping with the creative spirit that PARK(ing) Day was meant to encourage, and a nice number of community members participated,” said Library Head Peter Egler.

At Pitt–Greensburg, nearly a dozen organizations hosted rock and face painting, yoga and a Zen garden and scientific facts and experiments. “This was one of those events where you are not sure what to expect,” said Jodi Kraisinger, director of university relations and institutional advancement.

Kraisinger’s department’s space strung participants’ paintings on a banner, which will hang with the Year of Creativity banner in Pitt–Greensburg’s student center. “Once the groups had their spaces created and guests came out to see what it was about, people had fun and joined in the festivities,” said Kraisinger. 

Pitt–Bradford’s Hanley Library hosted a card-making event, providing paper, markers and other office supplies, as well as stamps for the first 25 participants. “We don’t really have the [parking] space available like in Pittsburgh, so we had to get creative,” said Katherine Nusbaum, circulation supervisor.

Marietta Frank, director of Hanley Library, said it was nice to participate in something that for the most part happens in Pittsburgh. “Doing something creative is a way to relax and exercise imagination. We’re looking forward to coming up with more ideas and participating even more with the Year of Creativity.”

It’s a sentiment felt by Provost Cudd, too. “I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the programs, projects and activities that grow out of a unified focus on the creative impulse,” said Cudd. “Creative thinking and creative applications are happening here across all our schools and centers and among all our students, faculty and staff. Pitt is truly a powerhouse of creativity... Go ahead and ignite that creative spark. The Pitt community and the world are counting on you.”

  • “What a fantastic way to kick off the Year of Creativity!” said Year of Creativity co-chairs Jeanne Marie Laskas (left) and Kit Ayars. “PARK(ing) Day had it all: creativity for health, for community, for the greater good as well as for personal well-being, for celebration of resources, and for the flat-out joy of the creative spirit.” (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd pulled the button-pressing lever at the Archives and Special Collections space. “Creativity invites innovative problem solving, new ways of looking at old applications and fresh ways to address almost every aspect of the Pitt experience,” said Cudd. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • First-year student Caroline McDonagh hung her flag at the School of Medicine’s Center for Biologic Imaging tent on Schenley Drive. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • First-year student Vicki Wang moved the lid from an ink pad to stamp her flag at the School of Medicine’s Center for Biologic Imaging tent. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Emiola Oriola, program manager of the Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement, read "Black Fire," from his poetry collection Thorns & Thistles, at the Office of University Communications’ Pitt PARK(ing) poetry space. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A passerby stopped at the Archives and Special Collections space and spoke with (from left) Kathleen Donahue, project archivist; Abbey Meyers, a student assistant at ULS; and Miriam Meislik, media curator. “I had a great time talking to everyone who stopped by,” said Meislik, who said nearly 100 people made buttons, built a puzzle or asked questions. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • At Pitt–Greensburg, nearly a dozen organizations created spaces that celebrated positive thinking, relaxation and wellness. "They each created something different and spectacular," said Jodi Kraisinger, director of University Relations and Institutional Advancement. (Susan Isola/University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg)