One day a year, in cities throughout the country, parking spots take on a whole new meaning. Simply by paying the parking meter and rolling out some grass, residents claim these spaces as public parks—and have their say about how small but precious pieces of urban real estate are used.
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“That’s public space. Nobody can use it.” That was one Portland city official’s response when Mark Lakeman and his neighbors first began building unauthorized gathering places in their neighborhood in 1996. Now, together with the City Repair Project, he's transforming the way the city thinks about public gathering places.