Oftentimes when a person drives down a road they’ve traveled multiple times, some things start to blend in. You have memorized the houses, sidewalks, and other neighborhood features, only to take note of the road signs. So, when something new is built, you pay attention, and your curiosity is piqued. This is exactly what happened to me as I drove through the Town and Country Estates neighborhood in Winston-Salem.
Located off Reynolda Road, Town and Country Estates have recently turned their two old tennis courts into 70 colorful spaces. Neighbors purchased a space and transformed it into a unique design. The idea for “Create a Space” was born out of the need to revitalize the tennis courts next to the neighborhood pool.
“The tennis courts were part of the original Recreation Center along with an outdoor basketball court and pool. The tennis courts have not been maintained and slowly declined, creating an eyesore. They haven’t been used as “tennis courts” in several years,” stated Lauren Sorel, President of the Town and Country Neighborhood Association.
Instead, the two tennis courts have been used for many other activities, such as kids riding their bikes, drawing with chalk, and playing kickball. Throughout the years, the Town and Country Neighborhood Association and T&C Pool Board questioned what to do with the space and if the area should be refurbished or removed.
“We needed an activity that was somewhat affordable for the neighborhood association, but would still make the area more welcoming and playful.”
“Create a Space” came from brainstorming sessions with neighbors Courtney Eklund and Lauren Sorel. Soon spaces became available for sale, the tennis courts were primed, and word got around about what was being done with the spots.
“Initially, people were intrigued, but not entirely on board. As with any new idea, it took a moment to take on. But after we primed the courts and people started painting, people got excited and involved.”
Excitement about the project continued to grow after a community event was held on June 11th for spot owners to paint, share supplies and ideas.
“We also had a DJ, bake sale, and Kona Ice serving shaved ice. We sold all 70 spaces, and people are painting them as their schedule allows. Some spots are artistic, some spots are more functional, but each one is different. Some families let their children decorate the square, and others took a more planned approach. There is a wide variety, which reflects the neighborhood. After many years of neglect, people are happy to have some changes in this common space, and it is also a way for neighbors to show their creativity.”
Once done, neighbors can enjoy the designs, as well as participate in a few interactive spaces. Games and hopscotch have been included in various spaces. Looking ahead, more community plans and projects are in the works for the Recreation Center.
“The hope is that we can continue to build upon the area, use it for more neighborhood events. Since beginning the project, there is already more use just during pool breaks. Kids come and look at all the spots and play the games. There are ongoing conversations about how to make the pool and common space around it more inviting. The tennis courts are largely done for now, but there is excitement about other ways we could make the pool grounds more usable and attractive.”
Part of this discussion includes turning the second tennis court into a pickleball court, but sponsorships are needed before anything occurs.
The “Create a Space” project exemplifies the value and importance of a community. According to Sorel, her favorite part of the activity was “seeing the community come together, have fun, and make new connections.”
“At the very least, it is a conversation starter, and people feel a sense of involvement in their space that translates into increased engagement with other aspects of the neighborhood. A community project can be daunting and consume a lot of donated time, but completing the task and seeing the joy it brings is well worth the effort spent.”
If you are looking for a community project for your neighborhood, “Create a Space” may be the perfect one for you.