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“Park in a Truck” fast-tracks green space development across Philadelphia

Kim Douglas, director of Thomas Jefferson University’s landscape architecture program in Philadelphia, and her colleague Drew Harris, a professor of public health at Jefferson, put together the “park in a truck” program. There are approximately 40,000 vacant lots in the city, the projects wants to make the process of turning these lots into parks much simpler and quicker.

“The Park in a Truck idea is simple: Give local residents the resources and training to design, build and maintain parks on unused land in their own neighbourhoods, they decide whether it’s a place to grow vegetables, a setting to show off local art and culture, a space for child play, or simply a green place for rest and relaxation.”

By building on top of the ground, with no fencing, footings, or foundations, the process doesn’t require permits or special licenses. Once residents have agreed on what kind of park they want to build, a truck drops off the “kit” of components, like simply constructed benches, tables, plant beds and red gravel walkways, and they can get to work, building with their neighbours.

“It’s easy, sort of preassembled … you look at the options, you say ‘I’ll have an Art Park,’ you get a box, and you bring it to the site,” explains Douglas. “[We] provide what I call ‘puzzle pieces,’ these interchangeable park components that people can mix and match and organize.”