Nature Valley

Bringing The Great Outdoors Into the City

Although urban spaces have a lot to offer, they don’t usually offer much in the way of natural landscapes. Except, however, on PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event that invites citizens, artists, and activists to turn metered parking spots into mini “parklets” that create awareness about nature preservation. 

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The Challenge

Wanting to participate in PARK(ing) Day, General Mills asked us to create, design, and build a parklet for its Nature Valley brand in just three weeks. This mini park could be whatever we wanted, but could only use one parking space and the installation had to be set up and torn down on a single day. Oh, and we had less than three weeks to go from initial client contact to concept development to client approval to design and fabrication to…you get the idea.

The Solution

Oliver Russell conceived and designed a parklet featuring a large, nostalgic paint-by-numbers mural of the Sawtooth Mountains to provide the community with a fun, interactive and engaging “outdoor” experience.

Good Old Fashioned Word-of-Mouth

How did Nature Valley find us? Word of mouth. The thing about word-of-mouth, especially in the digital age, is that you never know who’s watching your brand—near or far. General Mills found Oliver Russell through a simple ask on a personal Facebook page in Minneapolis. Three weeks later we were building a park for them in downtown Boise. 

Nv Schematic

Fast Timeline

So back to that challenging timeline. From the day we learned about the project to actual PARK(ing) Day, we had just under three weeks. We had to concept, sell our idea to Nature Valley, and build and transport the park in this short time frame. (On top of an already jammed work schedule for existing clients.) Not to mention secure permission from the City of Boise for our parking space. This all-hands-on-deck project included group brainstorm sessions, multiple sketches and mockups, as well as several late nights spent building, painting, and tracing lines for the mural. 

Nv Parking Lot And Outlining

PARK(ing) Day

On execution day, our team started bright and early—but we didn’t factor in the Friday morning beer delivery to a popular Boise restaurant that would happen at our parking spot. Even with a slight pause in schedule (we couldn’t, after all, get in the way of beer!), we set up quickly and before we knew it, passers-by were busy painting numbers by 10 a.m.

The entire day was filled with a steady stream of participants, including individuals who stopped by on their morning coffee run, conference attendees in town for the day, and groups of co-workers heading to happy hour. Our park visitors ranged in age and backgrounds, but we heard the same responses over and over: “Paint-by-numbers was one of my favorite activities as a child!” and “This is such a fun, relaxing activity in the middle of the city.” One woman, on her way to celebrate her 70th birthday at a restaurant with her husband, couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of the paint-by-numbers and stopped to paint “just one spot.” It was that kind of an experience.

Several of our participants felt personally invested in the project—they came back throughout the day to see the progress as the mural came to life.

Over the course of the day, we had 170+ park visitors help paint the mural and handed out more than 200 Nature Valley granola bars while also sharing Nature Valley’s work with the National Parks Conservation Association.  Today the enormous mural sits in our office. It actually looks pretty cool. And while a small part of it remains incomplete—thanks for the delayed start, beer trucks!—we plan to finish the entire mural soon and give it a permanent home here at our building so all visitors can enjoy the full beauty of the majestic Sawtooths.

Nv Work In Progress
Work In Progress 2

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