Skateboarders Are Saving Your City

Posted by Stephen Petrey on Thursday, August 29, 2019

It’s fun. It’s cathartic. It’s great for team-building, self-esteem, your mental health and frequently, a decent workout. I’m talking of course about skateboarding. It has even passively impacted other areas of life previously unbeknownst to the common urban dweller. There’s so many beautiful urban spaces in cities like like Tokyo, New York City, Dallas, Berlin, Los Angeles and I could go on and on for days. Simply put, the best cities to skate in, are also the best cities to live in — CityLab reports:

After-school skate programs in Colorado and Dayton, Ohio, are proving to be therapeutic for young people with challenges such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Skateboarding’s informal, non-competitive nature normalizes failure—skaters practice a trick hundreds of times, building resilience and perseverance. In Dayton, which has seen the worst effects of the U.S. opioid crisis, these programs can disrupt the toxic peer groups that can lead to substance misuse, and establish good role models instead.

Cities that aren’t the most walkable (look at you L.A.) gets a bad rapport, but the citizens certainly know how to assemble and appeal. There’s a lot to learn from Los Angeles. The same ethos that keeps Los Angeles locked into an ever-evolving urban jungle, is also the engine that keeps urban development in check. Upsetting that balance can mean the difference between a highway dividing a neighborhood, or a brand new bus station. Skateboarding can teach us a lot about DIY and teamwork. The skateboarding communities positive and often progressive ethos could be adopted in communities as a model for fighting for inclusivity and preservation of neighborhoods:

Academics Sharon Dickinson and Chris Giamarino have critically reviewed the tactics skateboarders use to protect the spaces they practice in from being shut down or redeveloped, to understand why some campaigns have been successful while others have failed. DIY or guerrilla regeneration can be applied, alongside more conventional approaches. In Los Angeles, for example, skaters succeeded by appealing to municipal priorities relating to creativity and entrepreneurialism, and presenting their use of the space as convivial and inclusive.

Next time you see a (laughably impossible to enforce) no skateboarding sign in a public square, know you’re in a good place.


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