Vanderbilt hosts a pop-up-park for ‘PARK(ing) Day’

The University Club parking lot was repurposed on Sept. 17 to share information about sustainability on Vanderbilt’s campus.

Vanderbilt’s repurposed parking lot for the PARK(ing) Day event, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Mae Monette)

Vanderbilt’s repurposed parking lot for the PARK(ing) Day event, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Mae Monette)

Mae Monette, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt hosted a pop-up-park at the University Club parking lot for global PARK(ing) Day on Sept. 17 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m CDT. The event included lawn games, outdoor lounging spaces and sustainability student group information booths.

PARK(ing) Day, organized by the non-profit Civic Design Center, is a global event that promotes the repurposing of street parking spaces into parks and places for art, play and activism. 

“It’s really a reimagining of how a space that holds idle cars all day could be used to facilitate human connection and interaction,” senior and MoveVU intern Crystal Cheng said.

The repurposed parking lot featured information about FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s plan for better use of campus land. Poster boards at the event displayed before and after photos of implemented FutureVU ideas in the West End Neighborhood and the Peabody Neighborhood. Cheng, alongside Assistant Director of Mobility Michael Briggs and Landscape Architect James Moore, helped to set-up and facilitate the event.

“We think that it is a really important story to tell, particularly for students who are new to campus, because they may not have seen what the area looked like or they may see an area in construction and wonder what is happening there,” Briggs said.

Poster boards featuring information about FutureVU and its current projects, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Mae Monette)

Campus Dining set up a booth featuring information about its efforts to minimize waste. Herron said PARK(ing) Day served as a beneficial opportunity to talk to students about “behind-the-scenes” sustainability efforts and what they can do to reduce food waste.

“We recycle all of our materials in all of our locations,” Sustainability Coordinator for Campus Dining Suzanne Herron said. “We also compost our food waste—both pre-consumer and post-consumer—and have also partnered with local nonprofits to donate surplus food.”

Handout from the Campus Dining Booth, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Mae Monette)

PARK(ing) Day also hosted a booth run by the Soil Your Undies Challenge. The challenge, participants plant underwear and let it remain in the soil for 60 days. The challenge, which has expanded from Vanderbilt’s campus to include participants from across the state, is spearheaded by Director of Research Initiatives in Peabody Christopher Vanags. 

“The idea is to look at how long term management strategies are impacting soil health,” Vanags said. 

Vanags said he hopes that more students will contribute to the challenge, potentially even as an Immersion project. Junior Victoria Vuong, a participant in the Soil Your Undies Challenge, added that working with the challenge has been an overall rewarding experience.

Soil Your Undies Challenge booth displaying results from experiments on Vanderbilt’s campus, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Mae Monette)

“The community outreach side of it has been really fun and different from what I am used to,” Vuong said. 

Other booths included Vanderbilt Community Garden, Las Paletas and Phocus sparkling water. The event additionally welcomed feedback and thoughts from students, specifically regarding their favorite outdoor spots on campus and ideas for campus sustainability efforts.

“We can’t transform the campus without input from our student community,” Moore said. “Student ideas have driven improvements on campus, so I would encourage anybody who has an idea about how campus could be better to share it, even if it’s just a small idea.”