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Pop-up Park Going Up in Albuquerque's International District

Community park designed to clean and cool air and provide much-needed green space.

Albuquerque, NM

Imagine an area dominated by asphalt and dirt turned into a park complete with trees, benches, art and shade. Neighbors and partners will join forces to build Albuquerque’s first Pop-Up Park in the International District, one of the most diverse communities in the city. The Pop-Up Park Community Build Day is scheduled on Tuesday, August 3th from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The project is part of The Nature Conservancy’s Urban Conservation Program designed to engage youth in conservation and bring more nature into the city to improve people’s health and well-being. Working alongside South San Pedro Neighborhood Association leadership and residents for the last year and a half, Artful Life artists have co-planned and co-designed the 20,000-square foot park (approximately half an acre) that will sit near the corner San Mateo Boulevard SE and Southern Avenue SE.

“We feel the popup park will be a warm addition to the area” says Khadijah Bottom South San Pedro Neighborhood Association Vice President. “It will bring about unity in our neighborhoods.”

Artful Life works to transform communities through creative collaboration. The Pop-Up Park will consist of large mobile containers – adorned with art – that will contain native plants and trees. Additional temporary structures will offer shade, seating and rain barrels to collect rainwater for the vegetation.

“We’re grateful to have this opportunity to add more works of art in the neighborhoods we love,” says Valerie Martinez, Founding Director of Artful Life. “Working together with community members, we are able to create art that reflects their hopes and dreams. We know the park will be a special place for residents.”

Youth will play a big role in the construction of the Pop-up Park, learning valuable workmanship skills and earning money for their labor. From July 23th-29th, members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps– armed with 2 by 4s, hammers, and nails – will build the containers on wheels that will fit together like a puzzle in a variety of patterns and shapes. Community volunteers will continue to help maintain the park once built.

This Pop-up Park fits perfectly into the plans for the lot’s future development according to the land owner, Alex Horton, who wants to do all he can to support the community.

“This has been a tremendous experience,” adds Alex Horton, owner of International District Economic Development (IDED). “The community-led collaborative project has brought so many people and groups together to improve the aesthetic of this area as well as the well-being of people who call this place home. It’s a win-win!”

The pop-up park is going up in an area defined as an urban heat island, which means it’s hotter than surrounding natural areas and has little, if any, green space. “Planting trees and plants here will help cool things down and clean the air,” adds Sarah Hurteau, TNC in New Mexico’s urban conservation program director. “It can also be a place to catch your breath and relax after a hectic day.”

The pop-up park can be moved to another area in need when IDED begins development in this space in 8-12 months.

This effort was supported in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through a program funded by Wells Fargo as well as the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.