Looking within the Bay-Area Skate Scene: A Unique Example of Place-Making and the Repurposing of Space

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
E. Missy WRIGHT, CSU East Bay, USA
Matthew ATENCIO, CSU East Bay, USA
Becky BEAL, CSU East Bay, USA
Skateboarding’s rise in popularity is in part due to the growing adult presence that hoists new interests and consequences upon an activity that was once considered an activity with elements of non-conformity, freedom, and creativity. Our research has focused on the fascinating and complex San Francisco Bay Area skate scene; once distinguished by its “skate and destroy” reputation, we now see how neoliberalism has played a significant role in redefining this skateboarding culture, with significant investments on the part of families, governments, and social enterprise groups.

There is much diversity within the Bay Area skate scene, with this paper focusing on how one city came together to repurpose space and develop place that fostered social, cultural and emotional attachment for their community members around the sport of skateboarding within the Bay Area in California, USA (Johnson, Glover, William & Stewart, 2014).

The city of San Jose, dubbed as the Capital of Silicon Valley, simultaneously uses ideologies around public health and at-risk youth culture to construct numerous skate parks. A unique set of socio-cultural and economic circumstances sharply implicated how skate parks were being conceptualized and managed by the city government. We completed over 30 hours of observations at two skate parks, and conducted interviews with 20 individuals who were parents, youth, and adults associated with skateboard programming. Different strategies for placemaking for different neighborhoods. We examined why these strategies were used in these different neighborhoods’ skate parks. In one case, the skate park was used to brand the city as innovative. And, in turn, place-making was used in ethnic minority neighborhoods as “redemptive” strategies. We discuss the implications of these strategies.