Thursday, December 2, 2010

15,000 people for every skatepark in the US

Tweeted by Dan Reed at JustUpThePike today:
@Sk8tingMom There are 22 people for every basketball court in the U.S. and 15,000 people for every skatepark, I learned today. #dtss #silverspring

Banned in Silver Spring...again

Yet one more event that Silver Spring skaters were not invited to:

From: lourieaia
Date: November 29, 2010 1:43:42 PM EST


Subject: Silver Spring Youth Charrette


Welcome back from Thanksgiving!

This is it…….time for the Silver Spring Youth Space Charrette

Working with local architects design a Youth Space for Silver Spring!!

This is your chance to put your vision of a new Silver Spring Youth Space to paper.


December 3rd, 6:30 - 9:00 pm AND

December 4th, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Where: Silver Spring Civic Building

The Silver Spring Youth Space Charrette is provided through the Washington Architectural Foundation affiliated with the Washington DC chapter of the American Institute of Architects

And sponsored by Silver Spring Town Center Inc. and Impact Silver Spring

With Support from Downtown Silver Spring, PFA Silver Spring, LLC

Welcome to all participants!!!!....Youth, Youth Workers and Organization Directors.

Organizations Contacted:

African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation

Arts on the Block

Asian American LEAD

Blair Sports Academy

Community Bridges

Gandhi Brigade

Gap Busters


Liberty’s Promise

Maryland Multicultural Youth Center

Mixed Unity

Passion for Learning

Street Outreach Network

YMCA Youth and Family Services

Please let us know if we left anyone out.

Last planning meeting: Tuesday: 7:00 pm Silver Spring Civic Building

Please return your Facility Surveys ASAP.

Please give us a head count for participation.

Questions? Contact:

Jon Lourie, AIA LEED AP

Lourie Architects
8700 Georgia Avenue, Suite 300
Silver Spring, Maryland

Monday, October 4, 2010

Missing Montgomery County Teen Jacklyn Haddad

UPDATE 10/5 - This beautiful young lady is now back home :)

Please share this far and wide, on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you can -- this 17 year-old has been missing for about a week, and she hangs out in Rockville and Wheaton:
Jacklyn Haddad, a 17-year-old from Chesterfield Road in Rockville was last seen on September 26th. A white female, with brown eyes and long reddish-brown hair, Haddad has a pierced nose and three piercings in each year. She is 5' 6" and about 140 pounds.

» Full story on Wheaton Patch: Police Searching for Missing Teenager

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

About Me

Some people call me crazy. I'll take that -- I am crazy, but it's a kind of insanity that happens when you're blessed with the opportunity to see a side of life that you know most other people don't see, and you badly want them to. And I'm not knocking anyone who doesn't see it -- my now-grown son used to skate and had lots of friends who did, and yet there was so much I never knew, about the kind of people many skaters are, and what the fascination with skateboarding is all about.

Going to and from work back in the '80s I often used to see skaters around the Silver Spring Metro Station. Almost all of them were white, and they tended to be dirty, raggedy, and bloody. I thought it was stupid. I'd see them try to do tricks again and again, and I could't understand why they would risk bodily harm for that.

East of Maui, the interim skatepark that used to be on Ellsworth Drive

When my son was small we used to pass East of Maui Skatepark that used to be where the fountain is now, and I would pray that my son wouldn't ask me to go. He's a musician and I worried about his hands. And what the kids were doing in the skatepark looked so scary and dangerous to me.

The perceptions I had back then, of skateboarding being a really dangerous sport, were in some ways accurate but mostly not. Skateboarding is statistically safer than playing basketball. When I saw those kids with bloodied and skinned all likelihood they would not have been so bloody had they been skateboarding in a skatepark rather than at the Metro station. 50% of all skateboard-related trauma is caused by skating on irregular ground, such as broken concrete on sidewalks and stairs.

Why skating means so much to us

And I now understand fully the attraction of skateboarding, and the near-obsession with skating that most skaters seem to develop. Many skaters think of skating as a sport, a creative outlet, therapy, a connection to community, and most of all, a source of pure joy and happiness.

Teenage boys and no fights?

One of the first things I noticed about skaters that shocked and surprised me was how often I was around them and no one was fighting or even arguing. As I skated with local kids more, I kept waiting for it to happen -- just a subconscious expectation based on the fact that so many teenage boys were hanging out together, and it just seemed inevitable that sooner or later kids would fight. But I didn't see it -- ever. I do know of a couple of fights between skaters, but I've been around these kids a lot and I never saw one.

I don't know of any other sport that sees large groups of teenage boys regularly self-organize events and activities and no one fights. I hear about crazy arguments and fights at sports events such as local soccer games or football games, and I even hear about parents getting involved in fights.

What I have seen is not a group of angels, but a group of kids who just want to skate. And if they're skating, they're happy, and they're not fighting. We've visited skateparks and skate spots and kids would just skate for hours and hours, and just be happy.

Kids who don't have much to be happy about

And many are kids who don't necessarily have a lot to be happy about in their lives. We haven't lost any skaters to suicide, but in the past year alone, there have been several suicides among kids who were part of our skater community -- they were friends with a lot of skaters and they often hung out with skaters. There are skaters who've gone through foreclosures and evictions. Quite a few skaters live with grandparents or other guardians, and many have lost relatives or friends to suicide and/or violence.

Few camps and after-school activites

Many of our kids have few other activities available to them, like summer camps or after-school activities. But unlike those kids in our community who lost their way and got caught up with gangs and crime, these kids have identified something that makes their lives make sense. Something that gives them a little bit of happiness to carry them through the challenges they face in their lives.

Amazing diversity of Silver Spring skaters

There's such diversity among skaters, in terms of race and class. There are skaters who come from families with stables homes and finances, and those who do not, and in this community I've seen the most real diversity I've ever seen in Silver Spring -- not just people of different races living near each other or going to school together...but actually building real relationships across races.

Skaters aren't perfect, and neither are you

I don't see these kids as perfect by any means. But, there are other kids in our community who are sometimes seen as the 'perfect' kids, and I don't share that view. I think all human beings are flawed, and I don't differentiate the value of human lives based on what group someone is in, or the value of what one group in a community wants over what others want.

We need to listen to our kids

We're supposed to be able to listen to each other, and talk to each other, and if there's a large group of people in a community, regardless of their age, who want to do an activity that's completely legal, that helps them stay on the straight and narrow, and that will keep them from developing childhood obesity, then I think they deserve to be heard rather than being ridiculed.

Sector Plan for the CBD

I know my recent blog posts were mean. But when you get to know a group of kids like this, and get to know their challenges and issues, and you see them working so hard towards something, and so badly wanting something as simple as a place to skate...the only way to react to some of the crazy excuses against it is to make fun of them, particularly considering the fact that a skatepark in downtown has been in the recommendations of the Sector Plan for the CBD since February 2000.

That document, the notes from a Planning Board meeting in '05, explain why Park & Planning made the recommendation to build a 14,000 square foot skatepark in 2007, in Fenton Gateway Park:


The Community-Based Planning Division recommends that the existing 0.286 acre Fenton Street Urban Park be expanded to 1.3 acres in order to achieve the recommendations in the February 2000 Silver Spring Central Business District (CBD) Sector Plan, including the recommendation that a site be identified within the CBD for a replacement skateboard park.


1. Address the demand for a skateboard facility in Silver Spring as demonstrated by the popularity of the interim facility. [Blogger's note: the interim facility was East of Maui, that closed in 1998.]

2. Provide recreational opportunities for people in different age groups with varying interests (i.e., augment the facilities at Jesup Blair Park and the planned ice rink at Veterans Plaza.)

3. Provide an appropriate site for skateboarding in the downtown to discourage skateboarders from damaging public spaces in the new revitalization projects.

4. Create a facility that will be an asset to the CBD and draw people to the downtown.

5. Create an attractive gateway to the Silver Spring CBD.
So way back in 2000, planners saw the need for a downtown skatepark in order to protect property in the coming development (much of which is now here), and they saw the growing popularity of the sport, and that a skatepark would be an asset to downtown that would attract people.
With regard to a skateboard facility, the Sector Plan describes the growing demand for such a facility at length on pages 129-130 and recommends that a site be found for a facility to replace the temporary skatepark that was located in the Core; this recommendation is repeated on pages 134 and 148. The Sector Plan recommends "considering sites throughout the CBD for the relocated park, including under-used parking garages, the Ripley District, and South Silver Spring." (p. 129)
and also
On July 12, 2001 park planning staff presented the Roller Hockey, In-line Skating and Skateboarding Report at a public session of the Planning Board.

This report identified Damascus, Germantown, Olney and Silver Spring as "areas with highest unmet need for skateboard facilities in the County..." Of those areas, only Silver Spring continues to lack a skatepark (Woodside is a skate spot -- not a skatepark.)

So clearly Park and Planning did their research and saw the growing popularity of the sport, and planners recognized the benefit of having a downtown skatepark to discourage skating in inappropriate places.

And even back in '05, park and planning recognized that Woodside Urban Park was too small for a skatepark. Explaining why they made the recommendation to build a skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park, Park and Planning talks about other spaces they looked at but ruled out:
"Other sites considered for skateboard parks but deemed too small were Woodside Urban Park and Jesup Blair Local Park. The Jesup Blair Facility Plan approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board includes a small skateboard park; however, the available space is only 5,000 square feet, which is too small to accommodate this type of facility. Therefore, staff is no longer recommending construction." (pp. 26-27) The staff report also included a memorandum from Councilmember Silverman to the Planning Board encouraging the Planning Board to include a skatepark in the next CIP.
So even back in '05, when Silver Spring had far fewer skaters than it does now, Park and Planning saw Woodside Urban Park as being too small for a skatepark. And, even with 5,000 square feet of available space in Jesup Blair Park, that was still considered too small. What we have now, Woodside Skate Spot, is 2,000 square feet smaller than that.

The Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board voted in favor of a skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park, and sent a letter to the Planning Board and noted that the proposed location for the facility was "very appropriate" and even requested it be done "on a priority schedule."

But, neighbors didn't want the skatepark, and the plans died.

Skating by Chick-fil-A

The consolation prize given to skaters, was weekend skating on lower Ellsworth Drive, between Chick-fil-A and what's now Veterans Plaza. The streets were blocked off on Fridays and Saturdays, and even though skateboarding is completely legal in all of Montgomery County, that little piece of Ellsworth Drive was the only place in Silver Spring where a group of kids could gather and skateboard, and know they wouldn't get kicked out.

Shortly after I started skating in January '09, after years of kids skating at that spot, downtown officials suddenly stopped blocking traffic to allow skateboarding, and stopped letting kids skate anywhere downtown.

String of broken promises

When this skate spot that was hugely important to many area kids was suddenly taken away, with no conversation and no explanation, Gary Stith (then head of the Regional Center) told me the reason we lost the space was because "businesses complained." He couldn't even tell me what they complained about. And he also told me he was trying to identify an alternate location for skaters, and he said he was likely to have one for us within 2 weeks. That was 2 years ago.

After Gary said that, Lillian Buie, a Peterson Companies employee, told me we could skate in the alley behind the DTSS security office. That was fine -- for 2 weeks, after which security suddenly started kicking us out. It wasn't ideal, and as Lillian told me, we'd have to dodge trucks making deliveries, but still it was something, and it was suddenly taken away. And again, no conversation, and no explanation.

Next was Jennifer Nettles, Manager of DTSS, who repeatedly told me she was trying to find us a space near Whole Foods. That space never materialized.

In all this time we have asked again and again for an alley, a closed off street, a parking lot -- any place where kids can skate and not get kicked out.

Woodside Skate Spot can accommodate 7 skaters. Any more than that and collisions start happening. When we had Ellsworth Drive to skate on 30 or more kids could skate with no problems.

Park and Planning's parking lot

In my mind, the space that makes the most sense for skaters to use is the parking lot behind 8787 Georgia Avenue, Park and Planning's headquarters. This is the organization that encourages county residents to walk, bike, and ride buses. And yet even though they're blocks from a major transit center, they have a huge parking lot where their employees park for free. So if their employees are all driving to can they ask other county residents to use alternative transportation?

Meeting with Reemberto

At our last meeting with Reemberto in the Civic Building, he asked how many of us know how to build things to skate, and 20 of us raised our hands. DIY (Do It Yourself) is a huge part of skateboard culture and virtually all skaters have some experience building things like boxes and kickers. I've seen skaters build things out of what looked like a pile of trash. They're an extremely creative bunch, and they're willing to do it and they want to do it. They only need the space.

Homemade Skatepark

K-Town in Kensington is a homemade skatepark that's been around for years. At various points there have been issues with the community, particularly with skaters leaving building supplies around. But what I've been saying for a very long time, is that in Silver Spring we have a real community, and there's an adult (me) who knows virtually all of the skaters and who has relationships with these kids. All we ask is for the county to work with us, and we can work amongst ourselves to build and maintain whatever we need to.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cyber-Stalking and Creepy Silver-Springers

Silver Spring has always had a reputation for having its fair share of weird and creepy people. But the Old Fart Patrol has taken it to the next level.

The OFP wagging heads are up in arms! They are outraged, offended, and a bunch of kids asking for an empty lot to skate in.

Not one argument against these kids holds water:
  • They're asking for too much!

    Actually, no, they're only asking for an empty lot where they won't get kicked out when they skate.

  • They're acting like this is the only issue that matters in Silver Spring!

    Actually, no, but teenagers are unlikely to show up in meetings talking about million dollar library bridges or asking why $3 million of county money was given to a rich corporation. And we're sorry for not mentioning your pet issues, zombies and restaurants.

  • They're entitled!

    Yes they do think they're entitled -- to have an empty lot to skate in.

  • They're ungrateful!

    Sorry, but the kids prefer not skating in a park so tiny that people are constantly crashing into each other.

Every single argument from the OFP is absurd, and proves the fact that they're really not arguing about the issue, and what they're really so riled up about is a group of mostly poor, mostly minority kids and 1 crazy mom is getting so much attention in the press. And that's attention that rightfully belongs to the OFP and their friends, for really important issues like which new restaurants they can feed their faces in.

Okay that's fine people, but would you mind being just a little less creepy about it?

The OFP has taken "creey and weird Silver Springer" to the next level. They cyber-stalk me -- they talk about me constantly, and they stealthily creep through the interwebs, looking for anything I post, or anything posted about me, and report back to their fellow-Old Fart Patrolers.

They talk about the background picture on my Twitter page, they stalk me on Facebook, and they scour the web for any little morsel they can report back on, where they then commence to wag their heads and point their mean little fingers, because...well, because this is Silver Spring. And this is how we roll. Creepy. And. Weird.

People wonder why Silver Spring's schools have such a big problem with bullies. I know why -- because so many of our kids are well-trained by their Old Fart Patrol parents in the Black Arts of Effective Bullying.

They're bullies on the listserves, bullies in blog comments, bullies in community meetings. And they're trying to bully me and a bunch of 11 - 17 year-old kids. Because this is Silver Spring, and this is how we roll. Creepy. And. Really, really weird.

Response from an Old Fart

Not 5 minutes after posting my groundbreaking expose on the super-secretive Old Farts Brigade that actually runs Silver Spring, who shows up on my blog? You guessed it, an actual member of the OFB, who happens to be a former skater! I couldn't make this stuff up. From Strategic Hype:
"I grew up in this area and I was a skater. We had $0 dollars spent on any kind of skateboarding amenities and we had just as much fun and didn't harass others with our sport. (We actually had a 12ft ramp we built in the woods behind White Flint) So when I hear all this complaining from a very small group of ungrateful kids and a crazy mom it makes me sick."

For those of you who are not familiar with Old-Fartese, I'll translate: "I used to have fun in my life. I don't have fun any more. I hate kids who have fun. Please stop it and become a miserable Old Fart like me."

Strategic Hype, I think we'll pass on your implied recommendation that those of us who still skate, become more like you.

I actually met someone who was heavily into skating that ramp in the woods behind White Flint. He could not have been more supportive -- of me, of local skaters, and of everything we're trying to do.

And when, Strategic Hype, you decide to add something a little bit more, let's say, intellectually compelling, to this conversation -- other than the fact that our community's children make you sick, I'll be more than happy to post that. I'll be waiting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Old Farts and Player Hating in Silver Spring

Since pro skater Darren Harper and I did The Kojo Nnamdi Show last Thursday, and a bunch of skaters and I participated in Kojo in Your Community in Silver Spring everywhere I go the reaction has been unbelievably, incredibly, extremely positive. People thank me, and tell me we did a great job, and encourage me to continue my efforts to advocate for Silver Spring's skaters.

That's the power of the press, and I started seeing that immediately after former Gazette writer Jason Tomassini first wrote about us in May. People smiled at me wherever I went -- in the grocery store, on the street, on buses, people approached me asking if I was Sk8ter Mom, and giving me all kinds of props for speaking up for the kids.

With continued coverage from the Gazette's Jeremy Arias,'s Elahe Izadi, ABC 7, University of Maryland Television, and The Kojo Nnamdi Show, we keep getting more support and more supporters from our community.

But this being Silver Spring, there will always be the Old Farts, also known as Professinal Player Haters, who get REALLY riled up by a bunch of mostly-minority, mostly poor kids actually demanding to be heard in their community.

The Old Fart Brigade are easily recognizable by their half-dead appearance (zombies maybe?), and by their antics in the comments sections of local blogs, whenever they get wind of someone, anyone in Silver Spring (gasp!) actually having fun in their lives!

The Old Fart Brigade swore off fun long ago, as it's prohibited in the bylaws of their homeowners associations.

Not every Old Fart actually is old, well not in biological age anyway, but the yungins among them are working REAL hard to get old fast, so they can outdo others in their hood in cantankerousness.

The organizational structure of the OFB is a tightly-kept secret, but my money's on Jon Lourie, President of Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. as being their head poobah.

That's the guy who showed up out of the blue at the exact time and in the exact location that I was set to meet with Reemberto Rodriguez a while back. Grand Poobah Lourie (aka Mephistopheles), before even introducing himself, immediately launched into a cantankerous tirade against skateboarders. His eyes turned bright red and started glowing, and I'm not entirely sure (hey, I was scared), but I do think I saw a couple of protrusions emerging from the top front area of his head, and he looked like he was about to explode when he started ranting about how angry and destructive those little critters are, and how much those whippersnappers just LOVE to destroy things.

This was before the Civic Building opened, and just before he started shooting lazers from his eyes, he looked directly at me and said "you had BETTER NOT let them skate at Veterans Plaza!" I was deeply traumatized. I had scary dreams for a week, thinking Mephistopheles was going to find me and incinerate me on the spot. Or at the very least, eat my face.

But it's all good. I'm all about embracing diversity, and the OFB, even Mephistopheles, need a place to live too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Are we clear on that? Not one dollar. Not one thin dime. Skateboarders in Silver Spring never asked for any county money.

The Price of What We've Been Asking For: $0

That's right, the cost of what we've been asking for, for 2 years, is 0. Nada. Nothing.

We have consistently maintained that all we need is the space, and we will build things to skate, same as K-Town, a homemade skatepark in Kensington.

We never asked the county to build a skatepark. And we would much rather build one ourselves than to pay a huge amount for a completely inadequate facility (*cough* Woodside *cough*.)

What we've been asking for is a patch of ground to skate on, nothing more.

Here's an idea, how about that huge parking lot behind Park & Planning at 8787 Georgia Avenue, yanno, those folks who build skateparks...the same folks who encourage county residents to ride public transportation. And the same folks who, 3 blocks away from a Metro Station, maintain a huge free parking lot for their employees.

Gwen Haney's Cookie Defense or How to Disenfranchise Youth in Silver Spring

Gwen Haney, manager of the Civic Building, claimed that skaters were denied access to Tuesday's taping of Kojo in Your Community in the Silver Spring Civic Building because they took too many cookies and they behaved badly. That's not just a lie -- it's a damned lie.

If some skaters took too many cookies, I don't know and don't care.

The fact is a large group of skaters was stopped at the door and told they could not enter. How do you behave badly in a building you can't go in?

The security guard told me repeatedly that the building manager said to not let the skaters in. She said it as if to apologize for denying them entry, saying again and again that I shouldn't get mad at her because she was only doing what she was told to do.

And what she was told to do, was to not let skaters in.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dirty Deeds at the Civic Building in Silver Spring

I was contacted by the Kojo Nnamdi Show, asking me and other skaters to attend Kojo in Your Community, a community meeting about public space in the Silver Spring Civic Building. I declined.

I didn't believe we would have the opportunity to express our views, so I decided that I would tell skaters about it, and let them go if they wanted to, but I had no intention of going.

The producer called me back and offered me an in-studio interview. I and Darren Harper did that last week. I was so impressed by Kojo's knowledge about skateboarding in general, and his familiarity with the history of skateboarding in Silver Spring, that I changed my mind about the Kojo in Your Community taping.

I begged, pleaded, and fussed at skaters to come tonight. Many did. And many were refused entry into the Civic Building.

Gwen Haney whined to me about skaters taking cookies. Seriously? The security guard told me repeatedly that the bulding director (who the guard referred to as a 'she'), told her not to allow those skaters in.

We already know and have seen the disregard that many in Silver Spring have for skaters. We already know that in spite of attending numerous meetings and speaking out for their needs, nothing has changed.

Thankfully, one skater, Chris Pacman Santis told Kojo that skaters were told they couldn't get in, and Kojo told Chris to go get all of them. He did. But then, Kojo's staff almost didn't let Chris and the other skaters back in! Chris demanded to get in, saying that Kojo told him to get the skaters, and that Kojo said they could all come in.

Thanks, Chris. You behaved much more maturely than many adults did tonight.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

DTSS security acting like the street thugs they are

Real professional behavior folks. Did your boss neglect to inform you that you have no authority to keep anyone from engaging in legal activities on Ellsworth Drive? Are you not aware that skateboarding is a legal activity? You guys are badly in need of training, because you're blowing it. And you're harassing and intimidating a kid for absolutely no reason.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obama takes on childhood obesity

I first started noticing it about 10 years ago. I was watching a friend's kids. A gorgeous day in Silver Spring, hot but beautiful. It was summer, middle of the day. I took the kids to the park — Nolte Field. Not one other child was there.

When I was a kid, I never saw an empty park on a hot, beautiful day.

We all know, have known for a long time, that childhood obesity is a huge problem, and we know that kids need to be more active. You can't keep a skateboarder from being active. Apart from rain or snow, there's very little that will keep a skateboarder from skating. Obesity is almost nonexistent among skaters.

I told you before about how the kids and I will go to a skatepark and literally stay all day. We do take breaks but for the most part, we're skating the entire time.

Obama gets it. This needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. Our community should support this, not fight against it.
The task force, created by the president as part of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, which launched in February, defined success by the numbers: returning this country to a childhood obesity rate of 5 percent by 2030. The current rate is about 20 percent.

Members of the task force, chaired by White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, focused their efforts on five areas: prenatal care, empowering parents with nutritional information and community support, getting healthier foods into schools, increasing access to healthy foods in neglected urban and rural neighborhoods, and making sure that all kids are physically active.
» White House task force issues report on fighting childhood obesity

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Skateboarding changes kids' lives

Maybe it's a kid who doesn't feel so good about himself. Maybe he doesn't have a lot of accomplishments he can point to and be proud of. Maybe he hasn't participated in summer camps, arts programs, or sports leagues. And maybe he never had the chance to.

That kid gets a board, and if he's at all normal, he's terrified at first. But he faces his fear and he practices and practices. He learns to sharpen his mental focus because he has to. He learns discipline, determination, and no matter how many times he misses a trick or falls, he keeps getting back up. He keeps working on it until he gets a trick and gets it right.

Now that kid does have something to feel good about, and he's probably doing tricks he never imagined he'd be able to do. And it changes his whole outlook. He feels better about himself. He feels happier.

Also contributing to his happiness is the instant community every skater finds when they start skating downtown. If you skate, you are accepted. It's as simple as that. Doesn't matter what race or nationality you are, where you live or go to school. You have people to hang out with, to talk to, and to look out for you.

One day I ran into a group of skaters in DTSS that I'd never met before. Communication is always easy with me and young skaters, and we started talking about all kinds of things — why they started skating, where they skate, and how they feel about skateboarding. I unintentionally opened up a can of worms when I asked if they felt like skating kept them away from bad influences. There were 5 skaters and they all started talking at once, going on and on about things they used to do, or almost did, or what they might have done that would have led them down a bad path, were it not for skateboarding.

Many times, we've gone to skateparks and stayed all day. Just skating. And being happy. And peaceful. These kids are really very easy to please. If they have a skateboard and a decent place to skate, they're content and don't ask for much else.

Is it wrong for me to want this community to encourage and support this? To support these kids? I grew up in the hood and I know where these kids can go and how powerful the pull of negative forces can be. And I know it really isn't that hard or that complicated, to give them something better.

Just Up The Pike on me, Sk8ter Mom, and why I do what I do

Thanks, Dan.
...these kids are repeatedly hassled by shopkeepers, security guards and even police officers in Silver Spring, chased out of spaces that weren't designed for skating but wouldn't get used otherwise. It's easy to write them off because of the way they dress or look or act, which makes them one of the least-represented communities in Silver Spring.

That's why someone like Sk8ter Mom has stepped in to advocate for them. She isn't just a well-meaning adult - she skates with them, making her a sort of liaison between them and the powers-that-be who won't listen to someone under 30.

» Full story here

About that prefab, temporary, too-small skate spot in Woodside Park

Here's my latest email to Park & Planning, kind of sums up my views on where we now stand with the Woodside Skate Spot project. And it ain't pretty.
Both here and on Facebook, I have asked for data on the durability of prefab skateparks, in particular, those built by Spohn Ranch. None has been provided. I have found no evidence online (or anywhere) that a prefab park has any chance of remaining in good condition for more than a few years. Both Centennial Park and Mt. Rainier (the two closest prefab parks I know of), have problems, and we've seen pictures of concrete separating within 5 months after Mt. Rainier opened (for some context here, there are pour in place skateparks that have lasted for 30 years.) Separating concrete is a safety hazard. When concrete is poured in place, it can't shift. There are no pieces.

I understand some companies offer warranties, but they typically don't cover 'normal wear and tear.' Is Mt. Rainier style damage normal wear and tear? I don't know what will fall into that category.

As it stands, we're looking at getting a prefab, temporary, much-too-small park, that one local skatepark designer says can only accommodate 10 skaters, and with the exact same design that has already been a failure at Centennial Park, and that not one of the adult skaters on our Facebook thread likes.

With all of these factors, it's very difficult for me to believe that this is really for the benefit of the kids, but as Thomas mentioned, an effort to get them off the streets — and one that will be ineffective. The only way to get the kids off the streets, is to actually meet their needs. This project doesn't do that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 9th Update: Final design for Woodside Skate Spot?

On May 7th, a Park & Planning rep sent out a link to an image of the Woodside Skate Spot design. The caption under the image clearly states it's the final design for the skate spot.

After many adult, highly experienced skaters, expressed extreme disappointment with both the design and the way it will be constructed, Vince Onel, who works for the contractor (Spohn Ranch), told us it is not the final design. With these conflicting statements, at this point skaters have no way of knowing which statement is accurate.

Here's what Vince posted to the thread where skaters were commenting:
Just wanted to speak on behalf of Spohn Ranch and explain some of the background on this project.

- The county originally wanted to do concrete ramps with metal transition plates at the bottom of each piece. We steered them away from ramps with transition plates. We worked hard to improve the potential of this spot and now we are being made into bad guys.

- We would love to create a cast-on-site concrete park like the one Who Skates submitted - but the County will not let us pour concrete on site. Everything has to be above ground, because they want the option to remove the pieces later on. This means no long banks, stairs, etc.

- The size and budget for this park are both tiny. We are trying our best to satisfy all types of skaters but is quite challenging when you only have a few thousand square feet to work with. We would love to build a much larger park.

This is not the final design, it is still conceptual. We are redesigning it now. To see the quality of our work when given a decent budget and space, please join the North Laurel Skatepark group. We just posted three conceptual designs.

Also please visit our facebook page to see the quality of our work.

Here are some of the reactions from adult skaters to the 'final' design:
Cheap pre cast in Canada non skater crap!!! Ask Micro if you want the REAL story.....


Hey guys hers and idea, lets import concrete pieces from Canada? is this even real?


Funny how skaters are all territorial and worried about getting inferior boards made in China, but will settle for some poorly made precast concrete from another country that costs thousands of dollars to ship, not to mention the carbon footprint. Maybe they have been conditioned not to speak up. Don't be afraid to tell people they make a crapproduct if they do. If the city thinks the kids are going to stop skating all the spots they do now, because this was dropped in place, they're sorely mistaken. With all of the ledges, banks, fountains, curbs, handrails, stair sets and ditches in this area, this is just another mediocre spot.


The Kids Deserve Better....Leave that POS in Canada..


The meetings should be later so that adults who work can attend as well. Here's an idea MoCo, get the entire community involved.


Moco blowing it once again




Dear God, is this design even real? I can't even imagine that any of the street kids would even be into this thing, let alone any of the transition and pool folks. It looks like a snore to skate no matter what your inclination. Plus, Roszko makes the very valid point that considering all the ledges, rails and stairs in downtown Silver Spring, this thing isn't going to make anyone stop taking the risk of skating a superior, albeit illegal spot.


two long concrete quarter pipes at each end, a box/ manuel pad at both ends, a flat bar, and a pyramid in the middle. that would have been more fun than this. this is such a bummer.


good grief! Don't have to look far to get what you need. No time better than now to build a quality park with skater design and build. Nice jungle gym though.


In my many years as a ramp builder and skatepark designer, Ive come across this "tree" thing before in skatepark designs and I would like to finally close this issue.

THERE CAN BE NO TREES IN A SKATEPARK. There you have it, do I have to explain this?? Ok, branches, leaves, twiggs, buds, tree sap …. don’t skate well- Ha, ha. I guess I did. Every now and then you get a landscape arkytecto dude in there- who is concerned about nature and shaded areas- but he don’t get the fact that no skater wants to skid on a twig, much less try and skate a tree (although it may be possible) Trees in skateparks are so beyond belief, that if someone proposed this in a design, well what does that say about their skate knowledge??? unbelievable


This is the exact design of the Centennial Skate spot ( Howard Co) built by ARC/Solo one yr ago for $100K. Suggest to the Montg. Co powers that be to drive by Centennial a few times and see how under used the park is and then go to the Lakefront and Columbia Mall to see where all the street skaters still prefer skating.


Hot mess! hahaha. Thats what that park design resembles. One hot mess!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Silver Spring's Daniel Kim

Silver Spring's Nnamdi Ihekwoaba

Silver Spring skater Nnamdi Ihekwoaba ollies 4 set.

Silver Spring's Darron Barker

Kickflip from Darron Barker of Silver Spring. Photo by Jono Aguilar.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Skateistan Movie Trailer

Children make up 70% of the population in Afghanistan. Girls there cannot ride bikes, or participate in any sport in public...other than skateboarding. And that's only because of the phenomenal program called Skateistan.