“Project backboard initially began when Dan Peterson started painting lines on courts so people could play basketball.”
Peterson, a lifelong hooper, noticed that courts in his adopted town of Memphis were in desperate need of repair. As Peterson told us, “A public park is the heart of a community. The heart of the public park is usually the basketball court.” While working on the Memphis Grizzlies’ Community Development Team, Peterson thought he could help make an immediate impact on the local community by simply starting to repaint the lines on some of the neglected courts.
A PUBLIC PARK IS THE HEART OF A COMMUNITY. THE HEART OF THE PUBLIC PARK IS USUALLY THE BASKETBALL COURT
As Peterson puts it, “it’s all about getting people to be active together outdoors.” And that goes for the entire process — from painting and refurbishing the courts, to ensuring that people are playing on them all the time. “The actual renovation of outdoor basketball courts in public parks takes about a week of repairing the subsurface and putting in a completely new resurfaced court.” A week of elbow grease can revive a public space in ways that no one would have imagined. When that intrepid attitude is delivered with the creative spirit of an artist like Nina Chanel Abney, the results are undeniable. As Peterson told us, when artists bring their unique vision to a court, “that’s what really brings more people out, makes the park safer, cleaner and busier.”
By working with visual artists like Nina Chanel Abney and William LaChance, Project Backboard injects energy into public spaces, ensuring that people not only come out and utilize the courts but also stay moving throughout the year. To date, Project Backboard has refurbished and revitalized more than 45 courts across the country.
As for the future, Dan hopes to expand the footprint of the renovations by incorporating high quality sculptures as playstations to create a more immersive environment. Project Backboard is also starting a street-team program this summer which will consist of young adults who are interested in maintaining public spaces and cataloging courts around New York City.
Have a court or community in mind? Dan’s process is clear cut. “Let me know what park you’re thinking about and let’s figure out a process for getting permission, creating artwork, creating a budget and doing the fundraiser.” Project Backboard is creating the opportunity for local patrons to transform their community’s involvement with recreation and each other. Check out some court transformation videos here: Kinloch, Missouri, New Rochelle, New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, Kipp Academy.