Leveraging young peoples’ interest in basketball gives us a foundation to teach design-thinking, introduce students to careers in design, and engage them in place making projects to improve their communities.



COMMON Hoops was born out of a design incubator workshop called Project M. Six designers, writers, and filmmakers came together to learn about Greensboro, Alabama with a goal of using design to engage the community. In the course of talking to residents, community leaders, and generally slowing our pace down, we learned three things about the town:

1. Design already had an impactful role in this community, there was a history of collaborations with residents.

2. There was little funding for arts education (K-12) due in part to the sparse tax-base of the rural population.

3. Basketball brought people together, despite some parks having no rims or backboards.

The spark that ignited COMMON Hoops was a unique material – a surplus of decommissioned highway road signs. We saw an awesome opportunity to bring a local material to life in a new way. In the process, we were educating kids about design and catering to their interest in basketball.

After we built our first hoop, we were excited to install it. We drove to a local park with a court, but no backboard. As we started to install our creation hoping to shoot a few hoops and photos, a neighbor interrupted us and insisted that we could not install this hoop. It was at that moment we learned how politicized a public play space could be.

Transition to Chicago!
We saw the potential to use design as a catalyst to empower youth to find opportunities in sustainable design, and to engage the community in conversations about public play space. Read our Hoop Story about our first workshop in Chicago


Project M – 2011

Isaac Karsen, De Nichols (Back)
Nicholas Kastner, Ethan Bodnar, Dawn Dewald and Philipp Batta (Front).

Key Players


Dawn Dewald – Co-Founder

Dawn is a freelance writer and digital producer who develops PR and marketing materials for national brands.


Philipp Batta – Co-Founder

Philipp is documentary photographer and filmmaker who produces branded documentaries for non-profits and social causes.