Monday, September 5, 2011

Press release for our Park(ing) Day weekend celebration



Actual Cafe, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO), the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC), the Golden Gate Commmunity Alliance (GGCA), A PLACE for Sustainable Living, along with other neighborhood volunteers, will reconstruct the Actual Cafe parklet which debuted in May of this year, as well as creating three new sidewalk planter/bench combinations for other businesses (The Essence of Beauty, James and the Giant Cupcake, and Kinks Beauty Supply). All these elements will be built from reclaimed building materials (some of which were donated by the Re*use People Store in East Oakland), and will be installed in time for Park(ing) Day, on September 16th. The Actual Cafe parklet will remain in place through Park(ing) Day weekend (9/16-9/18). The new sidewalk furniture will remain in place permanently.

Actual Cafe has been an advocate for parklets since its opening in 2009. The cafe abuts a no-longer-operational AC Transit bus stop, which creates a long stretch of vacant (and unusable) pavement immediately outside its window. Hosting a permanent parklet in that bus stop is a dream of Sal Bednarz, owner of the cafe, which appears increasingly likely to become a reality in the near future. On Park(ing) Day from 5-8pm, Actual Cafe will host its regular Friday evening DJ happy hour in the parklet (weather permitting). The cafe will be asking visitors to sign a petition to the City of Oakland to grant a permanent permit for the Parklet, as well as hosting a guest book and inviting comments through the weekend. WOBO parklet passport holders will receive stamps at the cafe, as well as a 10% discount all weekend long; all other businesses on the block will also offer discounts to passport holders.

In addition, on Saturday, 9/17, from 9am-6pm, a block party will be held on 64th Street between San Pablo Avenue and Marshall Street. Sponsored by A PLACE for Sustainable Living coordinating with its neighbors, including St. Columba Catholic Church and Rebuilding Together Oakland, it will feature a flea market in St. Columba's parking lot from 9AM to 2PM, along with music and other activities. The party will be held entirely in what would otherwise be parking spaces on the block. Performances include: Korean Drumming, children's theater by Marin based sustainability education troupe Next Generation and folk/blues by Ariel Eisen and John Bennet.

The new San Pablo Avenue sidewalk furniture will follow the same construction style and methods as the Actual Cafe parklet, and is intended to integrate the entire block between Alcatraz Avenue and 63rd Street into the parklet experience. In addition to providing seating in the form of benches, planters in the structures will contain plants provided by A Verb for Keeping Warm (another block business) who will use them to create pigments for their yarn dyeing studio. The planters will incorporate an ingenious self-watering design using recycled plastic bottles and a water reservoir to provide constant water to the plants above and reduce the need for regular watering.

Many of the original Actual Cafe parklet components were taken after its debut in May after being disassembled and left outside the cafe, to the disappointment of neighbors and volunteers who contributed to its construction. Says Sal Bednarz, owner of Actual Cafe, "I can't wait to have the parklet back in place so neighbors can experience it again, and for the day when it becomes a permanent fixture of the neighborhood. I'm also really excited to be expanding the parklet through the installation of sidewalk furniture for our neighbor businesses." During its first incarnation, the cafe's parklet was admired by literally thousands of visitors in just a few days, at the EBBC Bike After Work Day party, and during the following weekend at the cafe. Says Bednarz, "It also had a substantial traffic calming effect on what is normally a really dangerous intersection - people were slowing down to look, and also just taking it a bit easier because they saw the parklet in the street."

The City of Oakland is within weeks of issuing its first RFP for parklet proposals, and intends to grant eight parklet permits this year, in a pilot program that will hopefully expand into a regular parklet process in early 2012, according to Blair Miller, chair of the cross-functional task force at the City of Oakland responsible for developing a parklet process in the city. Actual Cafe intends to be a participant in the pilot program, and will use materials developed during this weekend event to show neighborhood and area-wide support for its parklet and parklets in general. "There is no doubt in my mind that the commitment of the community to help Actual Cafe build one quality parklet, let alone two, motivated the City of Oakland to start taking parklets seriously," said Ruth Miller (no relation), parklet program coordinator for Walk Oakland Bike Oakland. "I look forward to seeing the other parklets imagined and built all over Oakland and San Francisco, but there's something really special about taking your friends into the Golden Gate neighborhood and saying: 'that parklet that's full of people and activity - I built that!' Building a parklet is a unique and wonderful way to support your community."

Park(ing) Day and the following weekend will be observed by other Oakland businesses with various temporary parklet installations. These include Farley's East on Grand Avenue, Arizmendi on Lakeshore Blvd., and another Lakeshore location hosted by the Lakeshore Merchants Association.

Park(ing) Day:
Actual Cafe: / Sal Bednarz / / 510.735.6016
Walk Oakland Bike Oakland: / Ruth Miller / / 770.312.9295
A PLACE for Sustainable Living: / Takahiro Noguchi / / 510.213.8252
Golden Gate Community Alliance: / Dan Woloz /
A Verb for Keeping Warm: / Kristine Vejar /
The Essence of Beauty: / Andrea Abdullah / / 510.601.1972
James and the Giant Cupcake: / Eurydice Manning /
Kinks Beauty Supply: 510.655.7002
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