I received two comments today on my Facebook page. Both from the same gentlemen. The first said "Good for you and your plan to entice scooter kids. Smh." The second said, "Stupid Marketing Shit for you to make a buck. This isn't about skateboarding"
I'd like to address both of those and write about my motivation for starting Stronger Skatepark.
I'll start with the second comment.
If I wanted to make money, starting a skatepark would be near the end of the list. There are literally thousands of better ways to make money. Skateparks cost money, lots of it, and its very hard to make enough money to keep the doors open, even harder to take home a decent paycheck. If I simply wanted to make money I would be selling stupid shit on the internet. That's how you can make a boatload of cash without working too hard. Seriously, go check out Tim Ferriss and The 4 Hour Work Week. There are entire communities dedicated to automating your income so you can make easy money. Retail is not easy money, and skateboarding related retail is even more difficult.
I believe I can do it though. I believe by combining a truly excellent facility with great programing options, a variety of session types, and unique events, I can not only make enough money to keep the park open, but also pay myself and my employees a living wage. Before that can happen, I'm pouring a crazy amount of my own time, energy, and money into this. I plan on putting upwards of $20,000 into the park. That is of my own money. Money I could use to pay off my medical debt, pay off my house, or pay for the car that I have to go into more debt to get just to be able to work at the park everyday. It will be a long time before I even pay myself back my own investment. It will probably be at a year or two before I actually make any money myself, becuase paying my employees well comes first.
I'm also glad someone is noticing my marketing! I've put so much time into it, not to mention the time of the wonderful designers I have working for me. They by the way, are getting paid. And here I am working another hour for free! I want my modern, clean marketing to represent the product that is to come. A modern, clean skatepark. I'm doing everything to the highest quality I can with the resources I have, and I'm doing 90% of it on my own.
My motivation for doing this labor of love is the kids in Portland. The kids who don't even realize how much they need what I'm building. When I was a kid I had no idea how much I needed our local indoor park until I started going there. That was my community. I spent every day I could at the skatepark and made all my friends there. I didn't even realize how much I needed friends until I found them.
I'm doing this park for all the kids who love to ride, and yeah, even the ones who don't choose the same type of ride as me; kids who ride bikes, scooters, roller blades, and even quads! They need a park and a community as well.
I am confused as to why someone would think I'm "enticing" scooter kids though, as I've never once advertised my park as a scooter park. The only time I mention scooters is if I'm directly asked, "Will you allow scooters?" Scooters are not my main focus, becuase I know so little about the sport and the culture. I don't feel like I can serve other types of riders quite as well as I can serve skateboarders, becuase after 20 years of skating I know what skaters want. I understand the challenges, I understand the culture. And for the most part, scooter kids aren't a real challenge. They can be a mild annoyance at times, but in a monitored park that won't be as big of a problem. We will have a staff member who can guide younger riders as to how to ride the park, and how to follow park etiquette. And for those skaters who absolutely must ride in a skateboard only environment, we will offer Friday evenings as skateboards only.
I hope that everyone who supports Stronger Skatepark can adopt the ideas the park is being founded on. The first being "Radical Inclusion." That means anyone can come and be a part of it, even kids, even kids not riding skateboards. Our goal is to build the community, both the skate community, and the larger community that all of us who live in the Portland area are a part of. Maybe we'll do even do something big enough to build up the collective community known as humankind.
Every person is valuable, and every person is welcome. Thats the whole point of Stronger Skatepark. Together, We are Stronger.
- Allison Waters