Currently, our students spend most of their outdoor recess and physical education time in a drab, bare, and ineffectiveschoolyard. (See photograph on previous page.) This highly used but deteriorating schoolyard serves approximately 660children every day. When parents come to pick up their students, the schoolyard is full – yet there is nowhere to sit, andno shade within the schoolyard area. Seating, trees, and simple areas to play would make this a beautiful school andcommunity space.
We aim to make this a focus of active play for youth, which would vibrantly interact with the activeplay all around us, in the next-door public park, the surrounding streets and sidewalks, and in the MS 113 schoolyardon the next block.We, along with our partner, Open Road, envision a redesigned, architecturally innovative, and colorful schoolyard in a“plaza design,” a space that is exciting for students during the school day and also open to the community at times forevents in the arts, music, skateboarding, and youth culture.
These collaborations, some of which are alreadyhappening on a smaller scale, would bring in sponsorship opportunities for arts and physical education programs withinArts & Letters and The Clinton Hill School. Fort Greene has a wealth of cultural and educational organizations, and thereis also a significant and thriving local skate and biking culture amongst the youth on our block and those surrounding it.This scene is supported by small, local board companies like Culture and SDC, who have teams and very well attendedevents. Over the past two years, these companies have also brought their teams to volunteer with Open Road at city-wide events.Through our ongoing partnerships with Long Island University, Pratt Institute, among other organizations, and throughour design work with Open Road, we have found that communities get much more involved with the life of a schoolwhen there are collaborative public events in which they can authentically participate.
Investment in the redesign of our shared schoolyard would be protected by local stewards.
In addition to our twoschools, and non-profits with whom we share good relationships, there are very strong local groups and representativesthat protect educational, arts, tenants, and public housing rights (i.e. Pratt Area Community Council). We also know,from our annual
and other events, that local businesses will enthusiastically support events in the park.There is also effective public transportation in the area, by a multitude of subway stations and many buses. Theschoolyard is also just two blocks from Fort Greene Park. Open Road, Afro-Punk, and other local cultural institutions arevery committed to this neighborhood, and the annual Afro-Punk festival, of which Open Road is a core partner, attractsover 35,000 people over three days. The Brooklyn Flea also brings a wealth of locals and visitors, as do ongoing eventsin Fort Greene Park.Open Road has led three design sessions with our two schools, bringing together all affected parties – both schools’administration teams, custodial leads, involved teachers, parents, and students. These sessions generated designideas and sketches, and our students have particularly impressed us with their enthusiasm and truly creative ideas.Ideas generated include ground murals, a plaza center, and skateable and bikeable sculptures, which also inventivelydouble as sturdy seating. As a community of educators and learners, and as two highly regarded Fort Greene publicschools, we are empowered by this opportunity and excited at the possibility that we might bring such animprovement to our students and our community at large.