A handful of camping tents were set up in parking spaces near the Capitol in downtown Des Moines Friday afternoon. The urban campsites were intended to highlight the need for more green space in Iowa. D.N.R. spokesperson Alan Foster says the effort was part of International Parking Day which encourages people to camp out in metered parking spaces to promote urban parks.
“I think anybody who spends time outdoors is going to be a happier person,” Foster said. “Any time you get out of that mechanical business setting, even for an hour, it helps you focus on the rest of your day and gets you through to the weekend.” The D.N.R. campsite featured real grass, a fire pit, lawn chairs and even bocce balls.
Foster says the D.N.R. hopes Iowans will encourage state and local leaders to plan more green space when approving future development.
“Places where you can go and enjoy some clean air, some trees, some grasses, some shrubs, stuff like that — that you can’t necessarily get in a downtown setting. That’s what this event is all about — trying to promote that in our cities so people can get out and enjoy,” Foster said.
Other campsites downtown featured recycled park benches, rain barrels, and compost bins to encourage people to reduce waste.