You don’t have to be crazy to write a skateboard blog but it sure helps! =)
Interesting bookend to yesterday’s posting comes to us today from Rupert Murdoch’s wood-pushing beat reporter Conor Dougherty, who has a rundown on the state of play in Portland Oregon where skateboarding has corrupted “the system,” as opposed to the other way around:
As skateboarding exploded, Portland’s skaters began lobbying for more parks, and for a say in how they were built. One was Tom Miller, who had moved from Seattle to attend law school and later started a non-profit organization called Skaters for Portland Skateparks. The city later set up a skatepark committee that included Mr. Miller, Mr. Dahlgren and Dean Dickinson, a BMX bike rider. The panel pushed for concrete parks designed by skaters, rather than the plastic obstacles many cities were buying from playground equipment companies more familiar with swingsets than skateparks.
But the group also suggested something so bold Mr. Miller says he was almost embarrassed to propose it: a citywide skatepark system. Mr. Miller’s skatepark lobbying led to a volunteer position with the campaign of Sam Adams, who was running for city commissioner. Mr. Adams won the election, and Mr. Miller became an insider: He was offered a job as chief of staff. A few months later Portland’s city council approved a plan to create the skatepark system.
The “skatepark system” is intriguing to me; I’ve always thought personally that far more practical for cities of size, rather than building destination-type parks on the outskirts of town or in some bizarre, hard-to-reach location, would be to make legal spots scattered throughout various neighborhoods. Like a couple flatbars alongside a basketball court somewhere, a wallride spot in the alley behind some city building, legal ledges in schoolyards, a miniramp in the park, etc. But then again I have lots of other stupid ideas like taking spots people are already skating and stop wasting cop wages chasing people around all day. Or getting reincarnated as a grackle in order to shit on haters of various types and descriptions.
Anyway, the WSJ article correctly points out that skateboarding’s subversion/infiltration/sliding in thru the side door of Portland city government was aided by the widely believed fact that the place is run by a load of hippies, or so is my understanding. It’s also interesting to note that this has all taken place in the backyard of Nike Inc., whose interest in skateboarding has probably risen steadily alongside the number of parks in town; somebody more energetic and talented than your BTO staffer could probably make an interesting graph or perhaps a cheerily coloured pie chart to demonstrate this, but if wishes were ponies, well, there you are.
Another interesting sidebar to the Portland story is that as skateboarders have gained civic clout, the BMXers are starting to feel disenfranchised, since none of the power-broker skateboard types want to see their tax dollar-funded ledges all chunked up from pegs:
“It’s almost like skaters are the cops now,” says Mr. Dickinson, the BMXer.
Youch. The irony, she burns. On one hand, the BMXers have a fair point, but on the other hand, now that skateboarders have paved the way* they could go ahead and find their own city government to fill with various moles and rogue agents in fingerless gloves and Fox hats. You know, the Cuyahoga River is just begging for one of those big dirt jumps.
*delicious punnery sort of intended