Fair Play’s Vision Unfolds with Architects’ Help


“Without a vision, the people perish.” –Proverbs

“Anybody got an extra football field I can borrow?” Keisha Krumm, Common Ground’s lead organizer, was looking for a model cut-out that could be used in a playground design being worked out by one of the four teams at the Fair Play Charrette* on July 16 at Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

But her words could capture the situation that many Milwaukee County coaches find themselves in when looking for decent practice fields and playing fields for their school or neighborhood football, soccer and baseball teams. That lack of decent sports facilities for Milwaukee kids is the situation that Fair Play seeks to remedy. Our position is that if public money is spent on a new arena for the Bucks, at least $150 million must be spent on improving school and park play facilities in Milwaukee County.

The Fair Play charrette was called to gather community input for concrete images of the changes the money would make possible for sports fields and playgrounds for Milwaukee’s kids. At least 50 teachers, coaches, parents, and Fair Play team members moved in and out of the small design teams. The architects, who were taking notes throughout, had urged them to “dream big” and imagine play spaces that fit the needs of their schools and neighborhoods. The various groups looked like people manipulating puzzle pieces as they clustered around aerial maps of schools and parks. They would place a basketball court here, a berm there, and around the outside, rubberized walking/running tracks to be used by track teams and neighbors alike.

One of the dominant themes during the feedback session was the need for artificial turf on football, soccer, and baseball fields. These fields can be overlaid on each other as the seasons demand. This use of space and materials would save money in the long run, people agreed, because, as one coach put it, grass fields are typically “completely destroyed” at year’s end, making them dangerous for players and spectators alike. Another theme was a need for field houses that would provide shelter, restrooms, and revenue-producing concession stands.

At the end of the summer, the Quorum architects will generate prototypes for playground renovations that will incorporate the many and diverse ideas collected at the charrette. Keep your eye on the Fair Play Web site for news of the press conference in August. Display of the prototypes will be a major feature at the October 19 Fair Play assembly.

To help get out the word about Fair Play, visit http://bit.ly/FairPlayWi and toss some bucks into our fundraising basket.


* The term “charrette” refers to collaborative design efforts where diverse stakeholders gather to provide multiple visions for a design project. The term comes from an Old French word referring to the wheels of a chariot. Immanuel parishioner Allyson Nemec, principal at Quorum Architects and one of the leaders on the pro bono project, explained that the connection comes from an old tradition of architects rolling a cart full of plans through a studio and calling out for help with nearly complete designs.