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!