A ‘PEOPLE’S PARK’ planned for a vacant wasteland in Dublin city centre will be constructed thanks to a €21,000 funding boost from supporters.
Granby Park will become the capital’s first full-scale urban pop-up park when it officially opens on Dominick St lower on 22 August – and being a temporary structure, it will close on 22 September.
Sam Bishop, one of the core members of Upstart, the team behind the initiative, said they were delighted with the support, which exceeded expectations. They raised the money by running a Fundit campaign to raise €20k in 20 days.
The rewards for funding the project included everything from badges, to donations on the funder’s behalf, to creative workshops. More than 560 people have funded the project so far.
Bishop said they were delighted that people “want to see this happen”. “It just makes us feel great,” he said.
The park is a collaborative effort in many ways, from Upstart’s involvement to the funding, and Bishop said it has shown them that there is a “really creative network in the city”.
The plan is to have the park as a place for adults and children to visit and spend time in the pop-up restaurant, enjoying free arts events, outdoor cinema, theatre and music.
“When it comes to the diversity of the people getting involved, it just shows that everybody can associate themselves with a park,” he pointed out. He also noted that people were funding the park not just to get an award, but because of the benefits it can bring to everybody who visits.
The hope is that the park could serve as inspiration to others, to “show people what you can do” in transforming a derelict site into somewhere exciting and vibrant.
It is also about conducting research into how such sites can be transformed. “This is a site that will be regenerated at some point,” pointed out Bishop. He explained that there is no point in trying to get the land from landlords, but to use such sites “positively for the time we can get them”.
Plans for the park. Pic: Upstart
What happens afterwards?
When the park is closed, they plan on donating some of their resources and learning to between six and ten community projects who want to do something similar permanently.
The hope is that when it is taken down, “there will be more desire to see it happen” and this could lead to more such projects. The construction will also help to explore the challenges faced by people in getting access to such sites.
Dublin City Council has backed the project, and Bishop said “they see their role as facilitators”. The project will also serve to illustrate to the council how such projects work.
“It’s about removing the obstacles for people to get creative in their city,” said Bishop. “Our city is ours and we should be able to feel empowered to do creative stuff in spaces; to create public spaces for ourselves.”
Planning Granby Park. Pic: Upstart
The hope is that it will become easier to undertake such projects, and in doing so will help people to re-imagine the city. “Ireland is so creative. If we stop people from doing stuff they are going to leave, they are not going to be able to push themselves,” said Bishop.
Work on the site started yesterday morning, as soon as Upstart realised the project had been fully funded.
The focus is now on getting volunteers, so people are being encouraged to get involved in a variety of ways, from stewarding to putting on performances there. Ideas can be submitted to upstart.ie.
The new Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn, has said that under new plans, developers would get a break from new levies if they allowed prime space to be used for a pop-up park or other civic-minded project. With this sort of incentive, we could see many more places like Granby Park on the way – all it takes is like-minded people, and some bright ideas.