Little is as important to me as authenticity, and in case you haven't noticed, we haven't plugged a whole lot of products. In fact we've done no official advertising for any companies yet. I've only accepted product donations from companies that pass my internal authenticity filter.
That probably sounds like a lot of gibberish, but I feel like gauging a companies or an individual's authenticity is an important skill, one that I've practiced enough to be good at. Sometimes I have a problem of calling things like I see them, to the dismay of others who believe in what I'm criticizing. When I see someone who paints a picture of doing something for the good of others, really doing it to profit for themselves, I can't help but call it out. I can't support that.
When someone is upfront with me about their intentions, and not putting on a show, I dig it. I want to work with them. Even if they say, "I'm doing this to pay my bills and it's going to cost you $500." Hey, thanks for being upfront with me and not BSing me. I've been dealing with more and more people over business stuff lately, and sometimes my BS filter is screaming "NOPE" at me and I just need to walk away. But when I can tell someone is being authentic, they have my business and my friendship for life.
I'm writing all this to say, that I hope everyone understands the authenticity of the intentions behind Stronger Skatepark. There's a person behind this whole effort and it's me, Allison Waters. You might not know me, but I like to think I'm a pretty ok person. I've been told I'm kind, and that I'm "a real person." I like to think that when people say that they mean I'm authentic, becuase that's what I'm going for. I don't know how to lie. I've never been good at it. The one time I wasn't taking my vitamins as a kid, my mom figured it out quick. I was hiding them in my bedroom, and not that well. I'm not good at lying, I'm not good at putting on show. I am who I am, and that's what you get.
In addition to valuing my own authenticity, I value working with others who are authentic themselves. That's why I won't be taking just any opportunity that comes my way. Even if it means more money for Stronger Skatepark. I feel like it would be easy to get some giant cooperate sponsor, but then the park wouldn't belong to myself and the members. It would belong to some company with more money than they know what to do with. I can't let my dream fall to someone who's primary concern is money. My first concern is people. Always people before profit. Part of valuing people means paying my employees and myself a living wage, but I believe we will be able to do that without corporate dollars.
I hope everyone who is supporting us can come to understand how much I'm doing this as a labor of love. This is my passion and my heart, and my dreams are not for sale. I really believe that the community can fund this, both from the beginning crowdfunding campaign and through on-going use of the park and our programs. I'm already planning a not for profit to work in conjunction with the park to be sure we always have an avenue to fund sessions and memberships for those who can't afford the full price. I want this park to belong to everyone. It's starting with me, but I'm building it for you.
- Allison Waters