Students Raise €12,400 for Pop-Up Park

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With the economic collapse came the pop-ups. Restaurants, shops, and now a park are creating a buzz, then going away leaving a legacy in their wake.

Granby Park was open on Dominick Street Lower from the 22nd of August to 22nd of September this year. The park was built in 17 days and had been planned for over two years by non-profit voluntary arts collective Upstart.

Upstart’s aim is to show the importance of creativity in a society looking for alternative solutions. With this project they took an empty site and transformed it into a park to demonstrate the potential of vacant spaces around Dublin city.

The site had previously been given to private property developers, on the condition that new housing and commercial units would be built, some of which would be allocated to social housing. The developer pulled out, but not before some of the blocks of flats had been demolished, leaving behind the empty site.

NewsFour spoke to Upstart member, Aaron Copeland, about the park. “The whole point of the park is to show one of the potential uses for vacant sites. Vacant sites are a permanent feature of any city. We’d like to be able to develop a model that city councils could use all over the country. These sites can be used short term before the actual planned thing happens. It’s not a solution; it’s an installation that is used to promote other pieces of dialogue.”

That dialogue was sparked around a huge amount of events, including music gigs, conversations, cinema screenings, family days, a trade school, as well as art installations in the park. There was a café run voluntarily which got its produce locally and run on a cost covering basis. There was also a “free play space”, an area for children with no solid structures, “allowing children to engage with the space on their own terms, not how adults think they should play.”

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The focal point of the park was a project they worked on with Sean Harrington Architects and Casey & O’Rourke Engineers to design an amphitheatre based on the structure of a pallet bonfire. Aaron told us that three of the girls who helped to build the amphitheatre should have been living in the development that was planned for the site.

Locally, they engaged with younger kids, whom they nick-named the Granby Grafters. They were on-site helping with the build and maintenance of the site, painting fences and so on. They expected there to be issues with security, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, but there were absolutely none. This they credit to the local kids’ engagement with the park.

Aaron, who is also a teacher at St Michael’s College, had some of his students fundraise for the park as part of their community involvement in religion class. “They were my heroes,” Aaron said.
NewsFour spoke to two of his students. “Mr Copeland asked us to collect money from people in our school and we took down their emails as well. With the emails we entered an online competition, in which we won 10 grand for the park, which is brilliant,” says student Sean Daly from Killiney.

The competition they won was the Better Together 2011 fundraiser award, which is a web-based fundraising model. The organisation that attracts the largest number of unique donations during the 28-day Challenge won the prize of €10,000. With the help of St. Michael’s students Upstart attracted 1,013 unique donors to their cause. In total they raised €12,400 for the park, “€2,400 in donations and €10,000 in the prize money,” says student Conor Smurfit from Ailesbury Road.

When NewsFour asked Conor and Sean what they thought of the park they said, “It’s brilliant, colourful, very creative.” They were proud to have been a part of its development; a blueprint for potential future creative projects.

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Pictured clockwise from top left: Conor Smurfit, Aaron Copeland and Sean Daly; enjoying a stroll around the park; a greenhouse made from old windows; a work-in-progress mural.

By Emma Dwyer