Imágenes de páginas

honor, loyalty, cooperation, recognition of merit in others, subjection of self to the rules of the game, and to authority-in short, training in the fundamental qualities of citizenship through habitual practice and in a spirit of freedom. Such leaders recognize that in a code of sportsmanship involving ideals like these there is something to be cherished as sacred. They are aware, indeed, that upon such a code has lately been founded an International Sportsmanship Brotherhood, in whose promotion even such usually opposed groups as capital and labor are sincerely engaged.

Beside the objectives already indicated or implied we find that a broad, modern program of recreation has in it the aim of reviving neighborship in America, almost a lost art. Bringing people together in the play spirit means giving democracy a chance to function. It tends to break down class feeling, make them a bit more generous, more understanding of others. Yes, it can weld a community into a state of high morale by emphasizing the human note. Play is a common denominator.

Many of the splendid objectives enumerated, we must remember, are to be achieved not merely through physical activities. No, the modern idea is to offer also rich opportunity for expression through music, dramatics, pageantry, handicraft, art, nature study, and many other means which satisfy deep human hungers. Through them all may the legitimate use of leisure be made at least as attractive as the illegitimate, as a Cleveland newspaper writer suggested only a few days ago in commenting upon a now notorious theatrical festivity in the East. It is possible to exhilarate the human spirit by means of things of good repute. Exhilaration need not be left to the things of ill repute. The fight between the two is on in every community where wise men have thought through to the end the purpose of human life.

What about the types of public machinery for the achievement of these great objectives?-First, let it be said that according to the Year-Book number of the Playground Magazine, the types of municipal recreation administration functioning in 1925 were as follows: playground and recreation commissions, departments, divisions, boards or bureaus did the job in 174 cities; boards of education, in 113; park boards, park commissions, park departments, city councils, etc., in 151 cities; combinations of governmental departments, in 21 cities, which makes a total of 459 cities in which tax-supported recreation was carried on under public bodies in the year 1925. In 175 places we find public recreation was conducted by voluntary agencies like playground associations, community service boards or associations, and the like.

The best thought on the subject seems to be that while privately supported effort may be necessary to initiate a community-wide program, yet as soon as possible it should give way to a tax-supported plan under municipal auspices. However, a local recreation association may continue in existence for the filling of gaps, for creating public opinion in favor of expansion and improvement of the municipal system, for experimentation along lines which the publ authori

ties are not ready to assume, and, at times, for raising of money to supplement tax funds. Now for the arguments, pro and con, as to the various forms of taxsupported recreation systems. They are presented tersely to save space.

Park board-Pro: Has physical facilities definitely provided for use of all the people. Con: Oftentimes these consist only of large areas remote from the homes of a considerable portion of the population. These parks may not have fieldhouses for community gatherings, and sometimes the board is forbidden by law from providing them. A park board usually does not have experience and understanding enough to conduct broad activity programs, and is often legally inhibited from doing so.

School board-Pro: Has prestige, permanent organization, taxing powers, perhaps the support of the public, is often less tainted with politics, is in touch with children, has grounds and facilities, as a rule. Play is an educational process, and therefore should be carried on by the educational authorities. Con: School boards are usually conservative regarding anything that seems to be outside of the traditional province of education, hence, even as to play after school hours for school children, may not favor a broad program, much less the conducting of a community-wide system for people of all ages. School-yard areas are not, as a rule, large enough for all normal play purposes, and buildings are ill adapted for community uses. School boards usually have insufficient funds for what are regarded as school purposes, and therefore could not, if they would, enter the recreation fields. If they did, whenever appropriations were curtailed, the first cut would likely be in the recreation budget.

Independent recreation commission-Pro: It is set up for a definite job, has its mind on that job, and is likely to get farther than boards which have divided functions. It can, and often does, have in its membership representatives of other public boards, and thus gets better and continuous cooperation. It can, and often does, under state law, obtain independent tax funds for its special purposes. Con: "Every new board added to what we've got makes just another old board." There should be unification rather than multiplication, and anyway, you can enlarge the functions of the other boards, get the right people on them, more money for them, and they will be equipped to do the whole recreation job.

Conclusion: There is no patent formula for all cities and towns. Each must be studied as to traditions and trends in the community, as to the likelihood under those conditions and trends of one or the other type of administrative unit doing efficiently the vitally important task of catering to the leisure time needs of the people and of getting adequate and continuous financial support. The figures cited for last year, however, seem to indicate that the tendency to establish independent commissions or departments with taxing power is growing. Some city charters give authority to appoint such units. In other cities special legislation is secured for getting the authority. Twenty-one states have laws giving such power, while twelve (New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa,

Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Vermont, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia) have the provision that upon petition of a designated percentage of the voters, the question of setting aside a special tax millage may be voted upon at a regular or special election. All these laws, I believe, state that the tax money may be voted to an existing board, or a special one, to be created, but in any case, whichever gets the decision of the people, that board is to carry out the purposes of a recreation board, which are to provide, establish, maintain, and conduct a system of supervised recreation, including playgrounds, athletic fields, gymnasiums, public baths, swimming pools, and indoor recreation. That board is empowered also to employ playground directors, supervisors, superintendents, and other necessary workers.

Tests of a community's status in the recreation field.—There are certain recognized tests, based upon experience and the thinking of leaders, by which one can judge whether a certain community really recognizes the first-rate social and civic importance of constructive recreation and the degree of development it has attained at any given time. For the sake of terseness I shall put these in the form of questions.

Is there anything like consensus of opinion among, at least, the alleged leaders in the educational, religious, business, labor, social welfare, and civic groups that a community recreation program under skilled leadership is as important, e.g., as a community lighting and a community garbage system; that in reality it is a vital public utility? Has a recreation survey been made, reported upon, and adopted, showing facilities already available, private and public; the extent to which these are serving all the needs of all the people; their degree of cooperation for the common good; and how far and in what manner commercial recreation is boring in upon the life of the people for good or ill?

Does the survey report set forth the ideal requirements as to areas needed for play and recreation throughout the city, like the following? Play lots, equipped and under supervision, for children up to five years, 6,000 to 10,000 square feet as near as possible to the center of every child population group of one hundred, below school age; neighborhood playgrounds, properly equipped and under leadership for children 5 to 14 years of age, and for older ones on special days from 4 to 10 acres as near as possible to a population of five hundred such children, and with an effective radius at most of one-half mile, but preferably a quarter of a mile; district playgrounds, with park effects, equipment, and leaders for young people and adults for big games, athletics, picnics, and celebrations 10 to 24 acres for every 8,000 to 12,000 of the population; recreation parks, outlying large areas of 100 to 250 acres, away from the business and congested traffic centers, one for every 40,000 inhabitants; for schools: elementary, 8-10 acres; junior high, 10-20 acres; high school, 20-40 acres.

Certainly an important test of a city's status is as to whether it has set up a definite department or board to carry out such a program. Has it an adequate budget with which to do a city-wide job? Has it taken pains to get as an execu

tive the best available trained person, and given him as wide authority as possible to do a big service among all the people?

Parenthetically, it may be said here that the annual per capita expenditures for community recreation supported by tax funds runs all the way from nothing to over $1.00, the average being somewhere around 50 cents. A city spending much below 50 cents is decidedly delinquent. Another interesting test, and one that opens up many questions for careful consideration, is to compare cost per person reached by a public recreation department with cost per person reached by a private recreation agency. Inquiries in some cities show their costs to run from 3 to 12 cents per person served, as compared with amounts running as high as $12.00 per year for private agencies. More and more the per capita of municipal expenditures ought to go up toward the per capita of private expenditure.

Going on with my questions, Where there is a community program functioning, is it so well devised that it appeals to the many sides of human nature—the physical, the creative, the manual, the linguistic, rhythmic, dramatic, aesthetic, social, and civic? If not, it is incomplete and not up to standard.

Is there in the scheme of things a plan for reaching out to interest the people in the neighborhoods sufficiently to take advantage of facilities provided, a plan for public education and organization, or does everybody on the inside merely wait complacently for the "customers" to come in?

Does the staff conceive that it can, and ought to, constitute itself a general service center for furnishing suggestions about home and back-yard play, about neighborhood gatherings and how to conduct them, about possibilities along recreation lines in churches and clubs, etc.?

Does the department realize its great opportunity of becoming an agency for the training of volunteer leaders in practically every sort of leisure time activity? In one city recently such training was given to 593 persons during a five-week period. This is probably the only method by which eventually the ideal of reaching all the people with constructive play opportunity will be achieved. It is one way of actually solving the leisure time problem.

Does the department function throughout the full year, and not merely during the summer?

Finally, does the public recreation department do its utmost both to serve and to link together in helpful cooperation all the private agencies in this field, recognizing the merits of each and backing it heartily in its needed specialized effort? These, then, are some of the tests of an up-to-date scheme of things in the community recreation line. True, they apply in greatest degree to the sizable city, but nevertheless in principle they have validity even in the smaller places. By them we may judge the quality of the effort put forth to meet one of the greatest needs of the American people. The degrees to which those needs are met wisely and well must determine in the long run the very quality of our civiilzation.

We dare not deny the child its birthright. We dare not forbid youth oppor

tunity for finding all of its talents. We dare not withhold from age the spirit of youth. Yea, we ought to covet the service to lead all into the joys and satisfaction of the abundant life.


Blanche Renard, Associate Director, Community Council
of St. Louis

Those of us who are directing our thoughts to what community life may become under selected leadership and through wise planning are continuously challenged by the complexity of community life and the variation of success in our program as it applies to one section or another of a modern city. We generalize and often determine on a basis of cause and effect that congested neighborhoods supply us with the largest number of dependent families, that delinquency statistics are higher when the neighborhood continues to breed already infected sources to stimulate these conditions, yes, even that a community fund team more easily reaches its quota when its team members are familiar with their assigned area and understand "how to approach who." In other words we know, each in our own field, technical planning and the scientific ratio between cause and effect. But we fail frequently because we do not assemble all of the facts, or, having secured them, we do not interpret them in such terms as to make them intelligible to the people whose problems they are. The doctor of today who makes a careful study of his patient and then secures the full cooperation of the patient and those attendant upon him in understanding the diagnosis and carrying out the plan of treatment is some distance ahead of the "not so long ago physician" who set up his profession and himself as part of a great magic, whose mystic potion had its equally magic cure.

Scientific case workers recognize the fact that past, present, and future are all first essentials, and they know too (probably after very effective failure, when they neglected to have the family in the foreground in both plan and treatment) that you cannot make people do things, however scientific and technically correct the groundwork, until you make them want to do them. It is equally true that a superimposed community program remains floating, as it were, over an inpenetrable surface until the community understands it, believes in it, and desires it. As the president of the Community Council of St. Louis said in a recent annual report, "The age-old adage, 'Man, know thyself,' is being supplemented by a still more important injunction, 'Community, know thyself.""

How then can we approach our community problems and direct our community program? We face the fact in St. Louis that the city covers 61.2 square miles of area, and has 842,614 population; that it is too extensive physically, too complex socially, too varied economically, for its citizens to speak in

« AnteriorContinuar »