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When a Parking Lot Is So Much More


In Washington, D.C., a couple years ago, Mary Ann visited a museum exhibit about the history of parking lots. It was fascinating. For example, there was a time when cars were put into elevators and taken up to cubicles to be stored; the vertical lot consisted of hundreds of little boxes filled with cars stacked on top of each other.

Eran Ben-Joseph reports in The New York Times that experts estimate that there are three nonresidential parking spaces for every car in the United States. The math adds up to 800 million parking spaces, covering 4,360 square miles — an area larger than Puerto Rico. Ben-Joseph quotes the folk song by Joni Mitchell: "They paved paradise to put up a parking lot." How true.

But architects and environmentalists and other city lovers are coming up with some new options for parking lots. How about putting solar canopies over them or planting rows of trees? How about giving green markets a place to display their goods or for urban organizations to host parties?

Now that we're in the swing-and-sway of the imagination: how about using walls and dividers to display art. What about using empty areas in parking lots for worship; at the end of the service, members could bless the cars as a part of a weekly ritual for acknowledging the sacredness of everything.

Read this at The New York Times


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