Monday, November 16, 2009

From 2005 to 2009: Same As It Ever Was

Ineteresting. Richard Jaeggi is the first community leader I approached back in early 2008 when the Downtown Silver Spring Shopping District along with the Silver Spring Regional Office, stopped allowing skateboarding on lower Ellsworth Drive. I didn't get a lot of support, other than him strongly encouraging me to get skaters involved with Mixed Unity.

After attending my first Mixed Unity meeting, I told Richard I didn't believe I'd be able to interest skaters in those meetings. Our needs were more immediate — we had just lost the one legal place for skateboarders to skate in all of downtown Silver Spring.

I knew that skaters, almost all teens and many of them very young, would be roaming the streets of downtown in search of places to skate. I did not believe then nor do I believe now, that it's safe for them to do that. And I didn't believe they should have to attend meetings or be involved with planning a concert in order to get help and support in addressing such a pressing, immediate need.

The one thing — the only thing I was looking for then, was for someone in this community with a voice to have our backs and help us get skating back on Ellsworth Drive. Or at the very least, to help us to get an alternative location, particularly so that skaters wouldn't have to spend the entire summer without a legal place to skate.

Since that time, many of our skaters have reported being harassed and even physically attacked by security guards, and they've run into all kinds of safety issues, like when a skater was recently body-slammed to the ground near the Metro Station by a man carrying a fake badge and pretending to be a cop.

What I had no clue about when I went to Richard about skating on Ellsworth Drive, was just how much work he and his kids had done to speak up for skaters' rights in downtown. They did great work back then — amazing work. And just like his kids and other skaters in Silver Spring needed his support back then, they continue to need it today — not just for a tiny skate spot in Woodside Park, where the 100 or so Silver Spring skaters can't possibly all skate (and which the Woodside Civic Association has asked to have delayed) — but for the same thing he and Lisa fought for back in 2005, the right to skate on Ellsworth Drive, and any other public space in Silver Spring.

I just found the minutes for a Citizens Advisory Board meeting from April 2005, in which Richard Jaeggi spoke passionately about the need for skaters to have a skating facility in Silver Spring. He and his daughter Lisa did a video presentation of a skate-protest they staged in DTSS. The skate-protest set out to take back Ellsworth Drive, a public street, from a private company which had been denying kids the right to skateboard there.

Following are some of Richard's comments in support of skateboarding in Silver Spring.
Skateboard Park Video Presentation

Richard Jaeggi presented a video of his daughter's promotional piece focusing on the need for a Skateboard Park in downtown Silver Spring as follows:
  • Mr. Jaeggi stated that the presentation was not taking any positions on the location but the need for a Skateboard Park.
  • His daughter had interviewed skaters, security guards, businesses, Glenn Kreger at Park and Planning, and Gary Stith, Director of the Silver Spring Regional Center, to compile the presentation you are about to see.
    Skateboarders in the video said:
  • Skateboarders are always being kicked out of places they skate. They look at skating as part of their life, not just a fad. It’s their way of experiencing freedom. “You can do what you want, when you want and how you want while skating. It‘s better than video games. You get to be outdoors, getting fresh air and be with friends.” Most skaters skate every day if they can.
Following are some of the comments that came after that presentation.
Discussion: Richard Jaeggi concludes that: We should make a commitment; these kids spend a lot of money in the downtown. Let's not just focus on adult needs. It's a really good chance to do something for the kids. There is a lot of energy here and it's a great way for the next generation of Silver Springer's to get inoculated into the County process. There are a lot of reasons not to do certain things, but I would encourage us to find a solution and a site that's good for neighbors and for Silver Spring.
Marilyn Seitz: I don't see many things for children to do. We need a place for them to go. Back when I was a kid a lot of churches had teen nights. We had places to go and they were safe. There are not many places for them to go.
Korey Hartwich: Only commercial places like movies and of course kids don’t have that much money so they don’t get to go to the movies that often. There are really not that many places to go.

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