Graham Welcomes Dumpster As New Place To Eat, Relax

Jan 2, 2019

In the city of Graham in Alamance County, people are eating and talking in a dumpster.

The dumpster has been spruced up. It has wreaths and bows on it to celebrate the holiday season. Its walls are a bright teal color and its tables are made out of old sewer tops that have been repainted. There’s a freshly sanded wooden bench on one side so people can sit and relax.

In other words, it’s a parklet. A parklet is a tiny park that people can hold meetings in or eat or just relax. What’s different about this one is that it travels throughout the city.

Parks and Athletics Supervisor for the Graham Parks and Recreation Department Ted Fehlhafer said parklets break up the monotony of parking lots and sidewalks. When he found a dumpster to use as a parklet, it took a while convince his boss.

Parks and Athletics Supervisor for the Graham Parks and Recreation Department, Ted Fehlhafer said parklets break up the monotony of parking lots and sidewalks.
Credit Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

“I pitched it to my boss and he was like ‘Really a dumpster,’” he said. “But it’s mobile. We can move it pretty easy. I think it’s a great idea.”

Julia Huneycutt is one of the women in the parklet eating. She wasn’t too thrilled about it when someone mentioned it to her either.

“After seeing it and seeing what they’ve done and the way it’s set up and just the usability, the fact that you could have a meeting here or have a smaller event here, it’s really exciting,” she said. “So it’s a good use of a dumpster for sure.”

She also said she welcomes quirkier ideas in her community.

“It just seems like a cool, unique space for Alamance County,” she said. “I'm just excited for anything that makes us stand out.”

The idea of a parklet was three years in the making. Since it is mobile, Fehlhafer hopes to use it to attract people to various businesses. Businesses can sign up to host the parklet.
 

The mobile parklet was originally a dumpster before it was transformed. It will travel throughout the city for businesses that want to use it.
Credit Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Fehlhafer wants his idea to reach as many people as possible.

“People say you should patent your idea, but I don’t want to,” he said. “I want them to be everywhere I want everyone to enjoy them have their own creative ideas."