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Local Organization Transforms Parking Space Into Mini Park

GROW's initiative is part of nationwide effort to draw attention to urban spaces.

One parking space in downtown Woodstock will be transformed into a park as part of a national initiative on urban spaces.

GROW, or Green Reaps Opportunity in Woodstock, will take part in Park(ing) Day 2012, which encourages local artists, designers and citizens to transform parking spaces to mini temporary public parks. Today's event held by GROW is the only one in the state taking part in the campaign. 

Melissa Casteel, one of GROW's founding members, said the organization's mini park will be up for the public to see between noon and 7 p.m. today at a parking space near the pedestrian railroad crossing on Main Street between Oak and Elm Streets.

She said the event will be used to get the conversation started on public spaces.

"It's to get us to start thinking how we can use our spaces in different ways," she added.

Casteel said the organization plans to incorporate trees and grass, tables and chairs as part of its park.

"Many of the materials (will) show examples of how to upcycle waste or unused bulk materials," she added. 

Upcycling is the process of taking waste materials and transforming them into products of greater value.

Casteel, owner of Mondo Land Planning and Design in downtown Woodstock, said the organization will also have educational information on green living and also information on the city of Woodstock's transition to Waste Management as its residential garbage service provider, which will take place during the week of Oct. 15. 

The Park(ing) Day initiative began in 2005 when San Francisco art and design studio Rebar converted a metered parking space into a temporary park in the city's downtown. Since this, the movement has caught on among organizations and individuals. 

The event last year had 975 parks in 162 cities in 35 countries, according to its website. The last Park(ing) Day celebration was held in Athens a few years back, Casteel added.

Its mission, according to its website, is to shine a spotlight on the need for more open urban spaces. It also works to start a discussion on public spaces and how to improve the quality of urban spaces.

Formerly the Woodstock Flower League, Casteel said the organization changed its name to GROW to encompass more of its members' passion to promote green living. The flower league was spearheaded by Main Street Woodstock's design committee, which promoted beautification projects throughout the downtown area. 

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