Ben Hlavacek and his friends decided to build a skate park in Kansas City and were met with help from a surprising amount of people. Here’s their story.
Listen to This Episode
- Harrison Street DIY Blog: harrisonstreetdiy.blogspot.com
- Twitter: @HarrisonStDIY
- Instagram: harrisonstreetdiy
- #harrisonstreetdiy on Instagram
- Location of the Harrison Street skate spot on Google Maps
- “Do-It-Yourself skate park in Columbus Park faces possible demolition”. Video feature on the skate spot from KSHB Channel 41 Kansas City, which helped to sway the public’s opinion.
- “Pop-up skate park raises concern near City Market”. Summary of the project from the Kansas City Star.
- “Vigilant City Protects Crumbling Abandoned Lot from Volunteers”. History and other details on the project from Kansas City’s Urban Angle.
This transcript may differ in minor instances from the audio content. Please notify Josh Morgan of any errors you may find.
Monologue by Josh Morgan
This is The Plural of You, a podcast about people helping people. I’m Josh Morgan.
Ben Hlavacek is an amateur skateboarder who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2014, he and his friends decided to build a public skate park in the city’s Columbus Park neighborhood. They settled on a vacant lot at the intersection of Harrison Street and another, dead-end street. They soon began cleaning up the space and building their first skateboarding obstacles, and they gave the project a name: the Harrison Street DIY Project. After some resistance from the city’s Department of Public Works, the project now has overwhelming support from local residents. Ben and I talked recently via Skype about the project, and how it has been a rare success in many respects. I’ll play our conversation in a moment.
I learned about the Harrison Street DIY Project not long after a Kansas City news station ran a feature on it. I thought the project was fascinating because it’s not often that a group of citizens can appropriate abandoned property like this and succeed at it. I reached out to Ben mostly to discuss the skate park, and I was surprised to discover other, socially encouraging angles on the situation, like that neighborhood residents have stepped up to support the project in a big way, and that it’s been a positive influence on young people in the area. It’s also become more than just a skate park: runners, families, and other groups have started using the space. The group is planning to begin workshops at the park this summer, too, which will be another way to bring people in the neighborhood closer together.
I didn’t realize it until I was talking with Ben, but the closeness of skateboarding culture has probably been another factor in this project’s success. Ben describes relations among skateboarders in Missouri as tight-knit, and social science research bears this out. A handful of studies have found that skateboarders typically report high levels of social capital, which can be a tough thing for teenagers and young adults to accumulate.1 I also learned while reading for this episode that search interest for skateboarding has declined on Google since 2004, which may indicate an overall decline in skateboarding in the U.S. The data also show that interest in skateboarding is still strong in pockets throughout the country—that includes Kansas City.2
Above all of that, I think what fascinates me the most about the Harrison Street DIY Project is the political story. I didn’t ask Ben how politically active he and his friends were before they started this—I would guess about average—but they took a stand on Harrison Street where they probably would have lost in a hundred other cases. I don’t mean to imply anything negative about representatives in Kansas City’s government: it’s just that sometimes butting heads with people in power is the only way to shake their attention.
I guess I have a couple of points I want to make with all of this. My first point is that, if you want something done, you can’t wait for someone else to do it for you. No one will come and ask you what you want out of life—you have to show people what you’d like to do, and how it would benefit them. Ben and his friends wanted a place to express themselves safely, so they’re building one and inviting others to participate. For me, I got tired of hearing about how terrible humanity is, so this podcast is my way of showing that the opposite can be true. I’ll bet there’s something you’ve been wanting to do, but maybe you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to make it happen. The bad news is that these perfect moments are rare, so if you want something badly enough, like Ben and his friends did, then you’ll have to start with what you have and build from there.
My second point is that, if you want something done, you’ll almost always need other people to make it happen. Generally, no amount of practice or determination will stick without people who have access to knowledge or resources that you don’t, or who can identify your blind spots for you. Otherwise, you’ll plateau and burn out. Granted, it’s up to you to put in the work that’s required to make what you want happen, or to bring others on board, but the grind will be much easier with people who can tell you how to work more effectively, or who will support you when things get tough. I think that’s what I find so compelling about the Harrison Street DIY Project: it’s something that probably wouldn’t fly in a lot of cities, but it’s working in Kansas City because people came together and made it happen. Then again, none of it would have possible without Ben and his friends taking the first step.
I’m thankful that Ben made time to talk with me about the project. I’ve enjoyed following it online, and I think you’ll be interested, too. There [are] some great photos and videos floating around of the whole process. By the way, if you’d like to see where the Harrison Street skate park is located on Google Street View, or if you’d like links and show notes for this episode, you can find those at pluralofyou.org/010. Here’s Ben Hlavacek, co-founder of the Harrison Street DIY Project.
JM: Hello, Ben.
BH: Hey, Josh. How are you?
JM: I’m great! How are you?
JM: How’s your day been?
BH: Pretty good. It’s pretty hot in Kansas City, but I got off work early, ran some errands, and went on a long walk. How about you?
JM: It’s been alright—about the same. So, I’ve been wondering: what do you do for a living?
BH: I do freelance production work for photography shoots, mostly for advertising. I also do landscaping, as well. Kind of a mixture of things.
JM: How long have you been doing all of that?
BH: I’ve been doing the photo work for three years, supplemented by part-time jobs. I just started doing the landscaping this spring, so I’m a little new to that. It helps because it ties in with our project, so that’s been nice.
JM: That’s good to hear.
So I was hoping you could explain what your project is and what’s going on.
BH: It’s a pretty traditional, do-it-yourself, community-built skate park in the way it started. It was sort of a no-permission project. It started with a group of people who are into this sort of thing. We found a space that was pretty well suited for it.
We started going slowly to see what would happen. It’s kept growing and it has a positive image for a lot of people, and the neighborhood has accepted it. In that aspect, it’s kind of unique. Usually, these projects are fought or it’s an uphill battle the whole way, but this one has been really successful so far in that we’ve gotten permission to use the space. It’s something that’s fitting in really nicely to our neighborhood, and there aren’t a lot conflicts.
JM: How long ago did you start this?
BH: This project started last November. It got really popular really quickly. We were all surprised by that. We felt these projects usually take a little bit longer to gain momentum. This one just kept building momentum.
JM: Why do you think that is? I was going to ask: why do you think this is working so well in Kansas City, of all places?
BH: It has worked well in other cities. Sometimes, certain parks have a hard time, but there’s been a lot of successful parks in major cities that are done like this. The number one reason this project has been successful is our neighborhood support. Without that, the project probably would have been ripped out pretty quickly by the city. Having the neighborhood stand behind us, and stand up in neighborhood meetings and state to [Kansas City’s Department of] Public Works that they want this project to stay and they’re not in favor of it being removed is pretty much the only reason that Public Works decided to keep the project.
JM: Good for them. That’s great. So, it’s you and three other people who started the whole thing?
BH: Yeah. There’s been a really large group, but there’s a core group of four people that are working on it a lot, as far as coordinating everything and trying to make sure that we’re planning fundraising activities, and planning days to work on it. We couldn’t do anything that we’re doing without the consistent help of a lot of people, even though they aren’t there all of the time. It’s cool, it’s been a very collaborative project.
JM: How often do you get to work on it?
BH: Oh, I mean—
JM: Kind of as you can, I guess?
BH: Yeah. You work on it a little bit throughout the week. Maybe you need to make some certain tools on one day, or you need to cut some concrete forms on one day. We do little steps of the process when we have an hour after work or something, then we have big work days maybe once a month or every two weeks. It’s all about timing.
JM: Have you and your friends done anything like this before?
BH: Yeah, and Kansas City has a track record of projects like this. We have a public school crisis that’s been going on for years, and we have an alarming amount of schools that have been closed. There is a school that’s been closed for a few years, and the tennis court was in disrepair. No one was really using it, so people started building ramps there. They never had approval or anything, but no one was really—they were just looking the other way. That lasted for two or three years.
That was a neat project because it was totally unorganized. This project is organized, and there are people in this neighborhood that have taken ownership over it. With that project, it was neat because people would go there with no plan and just start building obstacles. You could go there one week and there would be your normal—what you were expecting. Then you could go there the next week, and all of the sudden someone else came and built something, and you would have no idea about it. Each obstacle was built by a different group of people. Kids or adults throughout the city would just show up and add to it without being prompted or anything.
It got torn down because the school district is trying to get rid of these buildings. In the meantime, it’s just vacant. That’s an unfortunate thing. I think that’s a cool thing about projects like these. They point that it’s sort of ridiculous to not allow people to be using these spaces.
JM: Would you mind describing the neighborhood where you’re building the skate park? I’ve read it’s kind of rough, but I guess I don’t know what that means exactly.
BH: My experience here has been extremely positive. We’ve had some strange encounters with neighbors, but the neighborhood has a lot of people that have been living here their whole lives. They take a lot of pride in it. When someone is screwing up like that, they don’t really allow it.
The neighborhood is a historic neighborhood in Kansas City. It’s an older neighborhood. It used to be heavily Italian, so it has a history of immigrant populations. There’s a big wave of Vietnamese immigrants, which make up a lot of the neighborhood demographic now. It’s a pretty diverse neighborhood.
The area where our spot is—in the Sixties, maybe, they leveled a lot of the neighborhood to build affordable housing. The lot that our project is in used to be row housing, which apparently became inadequate or they were having problems. They razed the ground fifteen years ago and leveled everything. It’s just been a lot since then. The lot used to be used for a lot of normal activities that happen in vacant spaces, like dumping. I know they’ve had problems with prostitution and drug usage—
JM: I saw there was a homeless camp, I think.
Right. There’s not too much of left. I don’t know if that’s because of us or because of a city effort. I know that police started showing up there, I don’t know about kicking people out but at least making their presence known. It seems like those types of camps don’t pop up where there is an abundance of activity. When we first started in November, there were probably ten different little camps pretty close to where we were working. Now, I don’t know if anyone is living there anymore.
JM: How did you and everyone else in this project get to know one another? Did you all grow up there?
BH: A little bit. I’ve been living here for seven years, and I grew up here a little bit when I was younger. I’ve been pretty involved in the skateboarding community. I think, in most cities, the skateboarding community is pretty tight-knit through different events. There’s usually only one or just a few skate parks in each town or city, so a lot of people meet each other that way.
One of the collaborators has grown up here, and another is from the middle of Kansas, near where I grew up. He’s been living here for a few years. We just know each other through skateboarding, and we’ve become better friends since we moved into this same neighborhood.
JM: Why do you think the skateboarding community is so tightly knit, at least in Kansas City?
BH: I think skateboarding is a unique activity because it’s collaborative and not competitive. You can have fun skating with anyone. You can feed off of a lot of different people. I think that skateboarders are appreciative of—if they see someone doing something different, they’re like, “Oh, cool. I didn’t think of that before.” They look at it as, the more people I know and see and talk to, the better I’m going to be as a person or a skateboarder.
JM: It’s interesting hearing you describe it that way. There’s always the stereotype among people who I guess don’t know any better that skateboarders are bad news or are out to cause trouble, that kind of thing. It sounds like, if they’re given a chance to express themselves, then they’re not bad at all. They can be quite the opposite.
BH: Right. There’s this clash between public and private property, and who can be using this space or that space. Skateboarders push that boundary really aggressively. Sometimes they may be in the wrong, but I think the idea of looking at things in an exclusive way, where only a certain group of people can use them—I think that architecture is something that is interesting to interact with physically and not just to look at.
There are ways to interact with things that people didn’t plan or design. As a lot of architects have said about skateboarders, it makes them happy to see someone using a space they’ve designed in a way they could have never thought of. I think that, because skateboarders are pushing that all the time, they’re like, “No, this is a space you should be able to play with,” or “Just think of a new way to approach this.” People are uncomfortable with that.
JM: That’s really interesting. I never thought of that.
So where have you gotten funding for the project?
BH: A few of us were asked to put on an event at this art museum in Kansas City, a skateboarding event. They had a small budget for it. I charged them $100 for our time. I just took that money and was like, “Okay, we all chipped in on this. Let’s use this for something we can all work on or enjoy.” We just did what we could with that much money. Then someone would be like, “Hey, can I throw in $60?” We were like, “Alright. That makes us a new small obstacle.” It’s grown just like that.
It’s been a lot of small donations from people. Neighbors would see what we were doing and be like, “Hey, I have twenty bags of concrete sitting in my garage. Do you want that?” That would have been eighty bucks, so that made us two new, small little obstacles. The other benefit of what we were doing is we were basically adapting structures that were already there. We didn’t have to build the entire thing, which would have increased the price of it a lot. We started with just small adaptations to the environment, which is what normal street skating does, too.
The more and more energy we’ve gotten and momentum, people keep chipping in. We started doing fundraisers, barbecues at the spot. We’ve done art shows, raffles of art work where a portion goes to the artist and goes to the project. Last week, we had a ceramics show at the skate shop in town that supports us a lot. They have a gallery space. We got ten percent of the sales for the project. We had a film screening, where we got a portion of the entry prices.
Recently, we got a $2,000 donation from Pabst Blue Ribbon—
JM: I saw that. I was going to ask about that.
BH: Yeah, to fund a whole portion of the park. That happened just from us reaching out for a fundraiser. We asked for food donations and donations for prizes, so we can do a raffle or a skateboard contest. We asked PBR—who gives donations to the skate shop for events—we asked them if they would donate some beer for our fundraiser. That’s how they got involved. They were like, “Yeah, for sure!” They checked it out, and they were like, “Actually, we want to just make a cash donation, as well.”
It went from being initially $1,000 that they were just going to donate, then they stepped it up to $1,500. They came down and looked at what we were doing, and we were like, “We’re building this bowl. This is the next thing. This is what your money is going toward.” The guy was thinking, and he’s like, “Actually, we want to pay for this whole build, so let us know what it’s going to be.” Kind of like mind=blown.
More recently than that, we applied for this grant in Kansas City called the Rocket Grant, which is an arts grant. We ended up winning, so that’s a huge chunk of change that we have never had.
We’re going to be able to do some programming that will include build workshops. Right now, our idea is that people will be able to sign up for these workshops, where we have a limited number of people that can sign up. We’re going to provide the materials and some tools, and work people through the process of what it takes to make a simple ramp. Everyone can make their own thing. They’re learning and contributing to the skate park at the same time, and also learning this set of skills that they can use to contribute to this project or another project in the city somewhere, if they want to.
JM: That’s so cool.
BH: Yeah. That’s been a huge boost to our project. We’re going to start doing that in July. That’s been the funding so far.
We’ve had a ton of small donations, and the coolest thing about that I’ve noticed is that more come in the more that we do. We got an individual donation for $500 the other day, which is so shocking. We’ve been getting a lot of good press in Kansas City, which helps a lot for fundraising.
JM: What made the city change their minds about this project?
BH: I am so in the dark with those guys. That’s been tough.
JM: When I first started following your blog, it almost seemed certain that it was going to be this long fight. I was just reading along as an outsider, and it seemed like they changed their minds pretty quickly within the span of a month or two.
BH: Right. I’m shocked, as well. This property that our project is on only has one real neighbor, which is another reason why it’s a good location for this project. We’re not encroaching on too many people’s space.
He’s our eyes and ears. He called us up one morning and was like, “Hey, Public Works is here, and they said they’re going to tear it out today.” I was actually the only one that wasn’t working at the time, so I rushed down there. I’m like, “Oh, my god. What’s going on?” I eventually talked to someone, and they tell us that there’s a work order out to have it taken out but they’re not going to do it that day. I’m talking to my neighbor, and I’m like, “What do we do?” He’s like, “Is it time to try and get the press involved?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I don’t know what else to do.” It was just a Hail Mary.
He contacted someone that he knew at the news, and we had some other people contact other news stations. Before we know it, there’s a news truck out there asking us question about what’s going on. They did this amazingly nice news piece, and they got comments from the city. It made everyone look really good, so that was a good first step. The city already had some pressure to do something positive about it just from that. There was a lot of activity on Twitter—tweeting at everyone.
Then I sent out emails to every single city councilman. I don’t know how this works, so this is a really stupid idea, I think, to send an email out to every city councilman in your whole city unless you’re trying to make some people mad. I think that I just annoyed the crap out of everyone. Then the neighborhood was positive about it, so [the city was] like, “We don’t want to fight this. We don’t have the energy.” Just whatever. I don’t know. They just kind of rolled over.
JM: Is there a window when they’re going to revisit the issue?
BH: Well, that’s the thing. There’s nothing in writing.
This project started on an active road, so they wanted to get rid of all of the stuff on the road, which is understandable. We were like, “Okay, that’s fine,” since they said we can use this unused space that isn’t an active road. Originally, they said they wanted to tear all of that stuff out and that they were going to repave this whole unused area so that it would be really good for us to use. Right now it’s really horrible ground. Now they’ve backed out of helping us in any way, so I don’t know. I think the plan is that they’re not going to do anything about it. It’s going to stay there for a few years.
The other background about this location is that it’s tied in a development contract. There’s a development project they’ve been trying to get off the ground in this neighborhood for—I think the contract was signed at least five years ago, maybe ten. It’s just an idea that they haven’t worked out. We’ve heard directly from the developers that, optimistically, it will start in three to five years in the area that we’re in. I think that’s another reason that we’re being allowed to do it, is that it’s not a totally permanent fixture.
JM: What has surprised you about doing all of this? It sounds like there are some things that have caught you off-guard, but there are things that have pleasantly surprised you, too.
BH: The neighborhood support has really surprised me. As a skateboarder, it’s pretty rare to have unanimous support of anything you’re doing. Usually, it’s the exact opposite. It’s been so neat to see, with all of the media coverage, all of the other people coming out that I never would have expected to get involved with this: people that want to help us with grant writing, people that want to make connections for us within the construction industry to find some allies there. There’s just lots of people that are—”Oh, let me reach out to so-and-so that I know, see if they can get you a good price,” or even, since we’re so unknowledgeable, people that will tell us the right concrete places to go to or the right places to buy these supplies. That’s a huge learning curve, as well.
I don’t know what else has been so surprising. I don’t know if it’s surprising, but it’s been really neat to see all of the kids in the neighborhood that get involved with this project. They didn’t skate before or weren’t doing anything like this before. We’re not provoking them to skate necessarily, but they just see something cool going on and want to come help. That doesn’t mean they’re going to start skateboarding—they just want to help out. They can recognize that this is a cool thing or a good thing, something that they want to be around. That’s been really exciting. Driving around the neighborhood and seeing kids that I’ve never seen before on skateboards now is kind of cool.
JM: Sounds pretty gratifying.
JM: Something else I thought was interesting: I was reading through your Twitter feed, and I saw a photo where this skate park is being used as more than just a skate park. I saw there were cyclists and people walking their dogs, and that seems really neat to me, too. It’s become something that is not just your group that’s using it. It seems like everybody in the neighborhood wants to use it.
BH: Yeah. One of the biggest benefits to the neighborhood of the project was that this space was just very vacant. People weren’t really using it at all. Some of the access points via sidewalk to that area were completely overgrown with trees from the lot that were overhanging and consuming the sidewalks—just grass everywhere. We did a few projects like that early on where we were clearing some sidewalks and just cleaning up the area. I wanted to do that as an act of good will almost. I think it was good for us, too, because then we can park and walk to the spot. It just made it more open and made it more accessible.
There was also a really interesting, uncertain period for the project. It was when the city had just found out about it and they didn’t know what to do. Since they didn’t know what to do, they closed the road temporarily. The road was closed for almost a month, so that opened it up a lot more for runners, walkers, dog walkers, kids, families, bikers, and everyone. It made it way more inviting for those kinds of activities to happen in this space. It’s kind of exciting because it was almost like we closed the street and took it back for all of those activities, and that almost happened. They considered leaving the road closed.
JM: Does the road get a lot of traffic?
BH: Yeah, it does. It’s sort of a through street. Especially with a lot of the construction that’s been going on recently in our neighborhood, it’s become more vital. It’s probably better that it stayed open. There’s some detours right now that cut through that road.
One of the main problems with safety before we started, what we were noticing when we first started spending time in that space, was that it’s a long, curved road. There’s no visual blockers across the curve, so if you’re driving, you can see down the curve super far. You can see if there’s anyone coming—any cars. People would fly, going so fast around that curve. Now, with people in the street, and people parking their cars there that block the moving cars’ line of sight, it dramatically slowed down traffic in that area.
This is a place where—there’s a big affordable housing project close, where there are a lot of families and children. Those houses are pretty compact living spaces, so there’s really not much room for people to get out and play, and just enjoy a big, open space. A lot of kids come down to this field already to run and be in an open area. I like to think that our activity there has made it a lot safer for kids to be occupying the space.
JM: Did you have an interest in human geography and that sort of thing before you started this? It sounds like maybe you have some knowledge of urban design.
BH: Yeah. It’s something I’m definitely interested in, but just as a hobby—something I like to read about.
JM: I gotcha. I didn’t know how involved you were with that.
BH: Yeah. I’ve been interested in projects like these for a long time, as a lot of the people that work on this project with me have been. This is a very typical theme of these projects, is that they’re in unused spaces with all of these problematic activities going on, and this is a positive occupation of a vacant space. That’s always the argument because so many of these projects, people just don’t want them to be happening because people are scared about liabilities.
That’s been a big thing to pat the city on the back about with this. They somehow decided that they’re going to accept the liability for it, which makes sense to me. Skateboarding is statistically less likely to result in injuries than soccer, baseball, and all of these other organized activities.
JM: Oh, I wasn’t aware of that.
BH: Yeah. Most cities don’t have additional insurance for their skate parks. It just falls under their normal park insurance. It’s not something that needs to be an extra liability. It’s something that should be included in any other activity, but it’s not really viewed that way. I think that it’s—I’m really excited that the city was able to look at it as, “This isn’t going to be a huge liability for us.” There were able to look at it objectively.
JM: That’s good.
I know a project like this may not work everywhere. It depends on the political climate and that sort of thing. Would you have any advice for people who might be interested in trying something similar? Not necessarily a skate park, but creating a public space? Is there anything you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
BH: One thing I would say is that you really need to find an appropriate space, somewhere where the neighbors are going to be tolerant of this and that it’s going to be appreciated. Like you said, this kind of project can’t happen everywhere, but there are places that would appreciate a project like this.
I also think that doesn’t mean you should wait until you find the perfect location. Like I said, we’ve had a lot of skate park projects like this that haven’t worked out. I’ve tried to initiate projects in the same way at other locations, where we’d go in and build something and see what would happen, and it was smashed the next day. You can’t be afraid to fail.
We were immediately in conversation with neighbors of the spot and knew that they were okay with it. We asked them what we could do to make them more comfortable with what was happening. We try to be very aware of the attitudes of the neighborhood and things that we might be doing to upset people. I think you need to be connected to your community where the project is happening.
JM: What would be the best way for someone to keep up with the Harrison Street DIY Project online?
BH: We have a blog at harrisonstreetdiy.blogspot.com. It has the whole story of the spot. The posts date back to the very beginning, so you can see exactly how it started. We also have a donate link, which is to our PayPal. [That] is our email, which is another way to contact us: harrisonstreetdiy at gmail dot com. We have a Twitter, @harrisonstdiy, and if you search the hashtag #harrisonstreetdiy on Instagram, you’ll see a lot of photos that lots of people have taken of the spot.
JM: Oh, I haven’t seen that yet. I’ll have to check that out.
I think that was everything I wanted to cover. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
BH: Oh, I don’t know. [laughs] Probably.
I did think of one thing to add. It’s really cool to see how this project is so influenced by the regional culture. Our lead builder—his name is Kyle Crandall. He’s from St. Louis, and he’s basically guided us through every step of the process. [He has] spent a lot of time to work on this thing. He moved here a few years ago from St. Louis. When he was in high school, he started a DIY park under a bridge that was littered with trash in St. Louis. That park turned into the biggest DIY skate parks in the Midwest and the most well known, and one of the coolest. He worked through that whole process.
There’s a strong culture in St. Louis, and then there’s also a strong culture in the middle of Missouri. There’s a guy that has property in the middle of nowhere, and he has built a DIY skate park. He goes to St. Louis and helps out there on their projects, and then people from St. Louis go to Hermann, Missouri, to help this guy out on his project. Now, the guy from St. Louis is in Kansas City helping us out, and we’re having people from St. Louis come to Kansas City to help us out.
It’s really cool to see how this project and projects like these make these connections that aren’t just within your city. We’ve got people from Colorado that want to help us. There’s a guy from Oregon that makes this specific piece of building material that you use for skate parks. He’s working with us to get us a really good price and the best shipping rates, and he’s going to send us a bunch of blemished product.
I know that these projects go on everywhere, but now being involved in one, I’m seeing how there’s this huge network of people helping each other out nationally and internationally. It’s not just people working on their own isolated projects. You have to be willing and eager to seek out friendships and be willing to accept help from others. When you do that, it just keeps ballooning, you know? It’s been pretty cool.
This project is strengthening our connections with some other scenes in other cities. I feel like that’s a pretty big benefit of what’s going on.
JM: I’m glad you brought that up. I’m older now and I haven’t kept up with the skateboarding community in a while, but I’m realizing how closely knit communities like yours can be. It’s a lot to think about.
BH: Yeah, totally.
JM: I think that’s all I have.
BH: Cool. Thanks for being curious about our project.
JM: Yeah. I’m really pulling for you guys. Take care.
BH: Yeah, thank you.
Conclusion by Josh Morgan
This episode of The Plural of You was produced bye me, Josh Morgan, in sunny Edinboro, Pennsylvania.
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In closing, here’s a homework assignment.
The next time someone in customer service goes out of their way to help you, be it a cashier, a server at a restaurant, or someone over the phone, make it a point to tell their supervisor or manager that you appreciate the person. This is an easy way to spread kindness through an everyday interaction. I’ve done it a few times lately myself, and I’ve found that it makes shopping and calling for help a little bit better for everyone involved.
That’s all for now. Thanks for helping.
- Sociologists have published an intriguing number of studies on skateboarding culture. Many of the articles listed on Google Scholar describe the social characteristics of skateboarding, including its effects on social capital in youth populations. (Back to citation.)
- Data on skateboarding from Google Trends show the decline of interest in skateboarding in the United States, assuming Google search data are a valid indicator of such interest. The Metro link under the Regional Interest section breaks the data down by geographic region. (Back to citation.)