Mobile parklets were just one aspect of revitalization initiatives employed in the St. Michael’s Corridor during the re:MIKE Urban Prototyping Festival. A brief recap: Back in 2012, as a project within the City’s Economic Development Division, MIX led a community planning process aimed at proactively charting the future of the St. Michael’s Drive corridor. The Re:Mike event and outreach process engaged thousands of community members contributing ideas for what a reinvigorated St. Michael’s Drive corridor could look and feel like.
Out of that work, a series of concise action items were identified, of which activating vacant spaces with mobile parklets was one. With a generous grant award from the PNM Foundation, MIX commissioned local artist Don Kennel along with Radicle landscapes to create the first of three mini-parks, and Kennel worked with a team of apprentices from ¡YouthWorks! to make that vision a reality.
Fixed and mobile green parklets have been used in urban areas across the country—in many cases to replace parking spaces with community spaces, and are considered one tool to help make cities more pedestrian friendly. You can read more about these types of innovative planning ideas through the the American Planning Association, which has extensive coverage of the ways innovative cities and planners are approaching public spaces (San Francisco even has a process for folks to apply to create parklets in that city).
Flash forward to the end of 2018, and it’s clear that this park was not maintained by the City of Santa Fe, as had been MIX’s understanding. Moreover, visions for St. Mike’s have stalled in the wake of the closure of Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Nonetheless, the challenges of volunteer maintenance and upkeep definitely helped inform our subsequent plant-less two parklets, one fabricated by the members of the Meow Wolf Fab Team, and the other designed and built by local artist Katherine Lee and fabricated by Extraordinary Structures.
We look forward to working with the city in the new year to discuss the best way to maintain this parklet, and still believe in the mission of creating new spaces for the community to enjoy. We also believe in the future of St. Michael’s Drive. We’re holding out hope that this particular parklet will be preserved. The Love Transfer Station was conceived as an expression of gratitude for an area of town that serves so many locals day-to-day needs, but could use some love, some revegetation, some shade, and a place to sit.
In the meantime, some of the MIX crew braved the snow and wind this week to give Love Transfer Station a little love.