Taking ownership of your community
Burnside has been a fixture in the skating world for decades. A tribute to the ethos of skaters everywhere, built from the grit, determination and exile of a marginalized sub-culture. It was built by community and brotherhood. I was stoked to stumble across the story of Marginal Way in Seattle. Much the same story, Seattle was tearing down skateparks and offering no alternatives. So a group of skaters scouted the city for a month and tried to find a location much like Burnside, an underpass left to hookers and junkies and way under the radar of any city officials. With sweat and determination a skatepark was born.
Check out this really good 6-part series on the making of Marginal Way:
It’s funny how life works, sometimes when you are really receptive to ideas you run across things that really resonate with where you are in life. The story of Marginal Way hit me in much that way, me and my 6 year old son have been skating together a lot lately, with the water getting colder and him not fully addicted to surfing enough yet to put on a wetsuit, skating has become our cold-weather escape. It’s hard for me not to reflect on my own past and see the similarities. I grew up skating but in a much different culture and environment. There were no skateparks and skating was mostly street spots that you sessioned until you got kicked out and moved on to the next spot. Skating quickly introduced me to the a life outside of what most middle school kids know.
I grew up in Memphis. Downtown was mostly abandoned after 5 o’clock, so catching a ride down there with some of the older kids, we’d meet up with skaters from all over the city in a sort of nighttime communal gathering. We knew junkies and prostitutes on a first name basis and often bought them food. As a 13 year old kid that’s a pretty heavy relationship to make and opens your eyes to things you really didn’t know existed. Skating gives you a lot of experiences like that, you get thrown into situations that aren’t normal. I think back on all of this as I’m teaching my son to roll-into the banks and how to kick-turn and pump. Where is skating going to take him, do I really want to be doing this? There is no hesitation, absolutely. This is the real world, things aren’t always clean and sterile and safe. There is some nasty shit out there and you’ll encounter it in life along with all the good things.
These were the thoughts that flashed into my mind while watching the videos on the making of Marginal Way. Skating has a really profound effect to alter our perspectives on the world. There is a really tight community and the making of this spot really highlights that. When the city destroys your spots, don’t bitch and complain and hope they listen. Do something, band together and do something about it.