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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK



The group trying to bring a skatepark to Albion should be encouraged that the Dekko Foundation has given a $150,000 grant to a similar group doing the same job in Kendallville.

By all accounts, the Kendallville Skatepark Committee worked long and hard at various fund raisers, and their labor of love ultimately led to the grant. Here is clear evidence that the young people of the world can band together to make a difference, and if they can do it with a skatepark, they can do it with anything. There's no reason to think the skateboard fans of Albion, especially with this kind of encouragement, can't accomplish their goals.

Members of the Albion Town Council gave their own clear encouragement when a group of skateboard enthusiasts came to a Council meeting last month, seeking support for their effort. We (I'm on the Council – what were people thinking?) couldn't give financial support, but we did discuss various town properties the park could go on, and otherwise tried to encourage them in any way we could.

And why not? It is a sport, after all, even if it doesn't have its own team franchises (yet). I'd much rather see our kids out playing in the fresh air than sitting on their rears in front of a TV. Some people say skateboarding is an extreme sport, but it's no more extreme than what my brother and I used to do on our bicycles when I was a kid.

I'm not sure how much detail I can go into on that subject; there's a lot my parents never knew. I'm sure they suspected something was wrong the day we walked home with armloads of my little red Schwinn one-speed, but to their credit they let us go back out again the next day. As for my sudden haircut, all I can say is Ring of Fire – bad idea.

I miss my poor Schwinn … but alas, the only thing left was the seat.



Now, I've been wondering what else I can do to support this group of kids, who have every bit as much right to practice their sport as anyone else, as long as they don't damage property or trespass. (And if you think kids with basketballs can't damage property, you've never seen me try to play.) But what could I do? I have no money. I stink at going door to door. I'm too nervous to steal.

Then I remembered that the spokesperson for the skateboarders had mentioned that if the park came to being, she would give all of us on the Council our own skateboards.

I'm pretty sure I heard gasps of horror from the Council members.

As a group we're hardly cowards. Two of us are volunteer firefighters; one spent many years as a deputy sheriff; one is a Vietnam War veteran; and one is a mother and grandmother, making her perhaps the bravest of all. But we're no spring chickens.

Even when we were younger, I don't think any of us spent a lot of time standing upright on a tiny board, flying toward walls at twice the speed of sound. I did the wall thing, but I was sitting on a bike, which makes a world of difference. I never even officially broke a bone, and the wall's just fine.

That's when it hit me. An idea, I mean, not a wall. And so I'm here to make an official announcement: I accept the offer of the skateboard.

This is assuming I can, legally. But then what are they going to do – impeach me?

Now, here's the part that will start the donations flowing in. If the skatepark gets built, not only will I accept the skateboard – I'll ride it.

Don't look so surprised – I got onto a skateboard once. I can show you the scar.

That should have some entertainment value, right? Look at how popular those blooper home video shows are. Viewers love to watch people fall down, and if you put my on a skateboard, I'll do that a lot. I'll fall forward, backward, sideways. I'll bruise everything from butt to bunions.

You should know, however, that I am *not* going to do that rail thing. You know, the one where you slide the board down a railing? That's a recipe for doing the splits and crushing body parts I'd very much like to remain undamaged; if I wanted pain there, I'd go to bars and try to pick up women. You'll have to be satisfied with a simple concussion.

I expect I'll never get past the part that includes rolling across a flat surface, which in itself should suffice for several hours of fun, road rash inducing blooper reels. In fact, it'll probably be pretty funny just seeing me wearing a helmet, full pads, and every article of clothing I own.

But then, who knows? Maybe I'll pick up on the finer points of skateboarding. With a few months practice, I might learn to do complicated tricks, such as turning, or stopping. Or how to get going without a hill. Advanced stuff.

All I ask is that someone be standing by with a cell phone, and the ability to dial those three little numbers: 911. Sure, the paramedics will laugh at me, but I'll feebly hold out one hand in a thumbs up sign, and after that the crowd will be on my side.

If nothing else, my chiropractor will make some money on this.

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
redwolf
Aug. 30th, 2007 10:45 am (UTC)
As you're more comfortable on a bicycle (I don't know how the remains of that Schwinn feel about that) you might be interested to know that I see more bikes at the local skate park that I do skateboards.

If you do take up the skateboard offer, I expect to see photos. Of the emergency room if need be.
ozma914
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if the rules will allow bikes in this case; we're looking at various scenerios for what will be allowed in the park, and when. I'm okay with it, but there's legalistic red tape to consider. But you're right, I'm much more comfortable on a bike, despite the scars. Unfortunately, it's the skateboard they'll be expecting to see me on.

If it happens, there will be plenty of photos, not to mention video! Of that you can be sure.
redwolf
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
There's rules and there's what kids do. If BMX is the current trend, that's what will be at the skatepark regardless of the rules.

It might be worth bringing this up early before the local kids lose their park to the lawyers. I would hope that as long as the kids using the park have the appropriate safety gear and don't install that ex-military rocket on their bike, it should be cool, but if lawyers are involved, who knows.
ozma914
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
That rocket on the bike thing doesn't really work all that well; of course, ours weren't military grade. They did give a bit of a push, but nothing spectacular.

Interestingly, the way we're getting around insurance and legal concerns is to not police the skatepark at all. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if we set the place up to be officially supervised, the liability insurance would have been too much. We'll be posting rules (to be determined), and that's it; it's up to the kids to police themselves, which they usually do quite well when given the chance. Basically, we post rules and hours, along with "skate at your own risk, and Don't Make Us Come Down There" ... and by so doing, our insurance doesn't shoot through the roof. Strange, I know.

I think basically what will happen is that if the kids want to bike down there nobody will tell them not to, as long as they don't do something stupid and get themselves into trouble. But if the lawyerly stuff doesn't allow bikes there, and somebody calls to complain, we'll have to chase them out. Then it'll be the BMX'ers turn to raise money to build a course! Luckily, we've got space to do that.
redwolf
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Wow! Having the luxury of space for multiple parks is something that's unknown in my area. Lucky kids.
ozma914
Sep. 1st, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
Albion has an incredible park system. About 15 years ago we had a large piece of land donated to us on one side of town, and a few years ago the Park Director wheeled and dealed a sweet price on an adjoining property, giving us a relatively large untapped area to use for anything we like -- as long as it's recreation related, since we received a state grant toward that purpose. We don't have a lot of town money to put into it right now, but we've got the space for groups like this to work with.
elizalavelle
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:12 am (UTC)
That's a fun idea to raise money. Good luck on the skateboard, I pretty much can roll along on a flat surface and can turn... sort of... You'll have to post and let us all know how it goes!
ozma914
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
If it ends up happening, the very least I can do is write a column to report on it! This assumes I'm capable of typing, of course. If not, I'll just dictate something. If I can talk.
elizalavelle
Aug. 31st, 2007 10:57 am (UTC)
hehe I'm now picturing you all bandaged up typing via a pencil in your mouth, one letter a time... slowest column ever ;)
ozma914
Sep. 1st, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
Some people say writing slower helps with the final product ... but I doubt they mean *that* slow.

By the way, what's your icon about? It's familiar, but I can't place it.
elizalavelle
Sep. 1st, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
I'm guessing you mean my icon not my column since I don't have one of those ;) It's from one of Browncoat_2x2's fanfics. I made her icons to go along with a bunch of them. I believe it's the third post down at rage_my_darling.
elizalavelle
Sep. 1st, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
...and now I see that you made the correction oops, ignore my first sentence ;)
ozma914
Sep. 2nd, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
I corrected it as fast as I could! :-)
ozma914
Sep. 2nd, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
Oh! That's the girl Mal almost married, isn't it? I didn't recognize her.
elizalavelle
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yup Saffron (and also Yolanda and Bridget) played by the fabulous Christina Hendricks :)
ozma914
Sep. 3rd, 2007 10:48 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, I remember now -- and fabulous, indeed!
gillo
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
You're a brave man, Mark. And we will need photos!
ozma914
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)
Everyone wants photos!
curiouswombat
Aug. 30th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Well I'd sponsor you - where do we send the money?

In the North of the island a group got together some years ago and asked the local council for the use of some land for a BMX track and, just like your council has decided, they were given the use of the land(previously a miniature golf course, on scrubby land very near the sea) but no finance for their project. They then, under the instruction of one man in his early thirties who knew a bit more than the teenagers, built their own BMX course, which is in use every time I drive past it.

Then some other kids asked could they have part of the same site for a skateboard park - and instead of all the humming and hawing going on in a couple of other island towns, the Ramsey council again said 'Yes - go for it.' And it was opened this summer - and teenaged boys, mainly, can be seen outdoors enjoying themselves whenever I go past it.

So encourage your young people to go for it, get sponsors, get a plan, and get it built!
ozma914
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
I'd never thought of the idea of anyone sending donations based on my column! The town is holding an account for the group -- I'll check and see where they want donations sent, and post it later.

Yay for teenagers being able to get out and be active! Oh, and thanks for the link; I surfed around on it for awhile. It's telling that the Isle of Man has its own film department!
ozma914
Sep. 9th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
If there really is someone willing to pay to see me kill myself on the skateboard (and I just now figured out that you were talking about sponsering me on the board, rather than sending a direct donation!) spread the word that the address is:

Albion Skateboard Fund
Albion Municipal Building
P O Box 27
Albion IN USA
46701
cbtreks
Aug. 30th, 2007 04:45 pm (UTC)
This is a great idea - and it's nice to see a town that doesn't treat it's skateboarders as if they were criminals. We'll definitely want photos!

Hmm. You didn't "officially" break any bones. Unofficially...?

(Yes, I'm still around - hi, how've you been? Me, I've been brain-dead with the job-searching. If I'd known ahead of time that the job market here is so slow, I might have stayed in Nevada - but I'm glad I didn't.)
cbtreks
Aug. 30th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
(I just realized that "we'll" makes me sound like a skateboarder, placed as it is in that paragraph. So not true!! My broken bones, if that were the case, would definitely be official. *g*)
ozma914
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
My contention has always been that you have to be insane to be a skateboarder, so I'm with you! Say -- if I do go through with this, maybe I'll post the x-rays.
ozma914
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
The problem with the serious skateboarders isn't that they go out looking for laws to break and property to damage ... unfortunately that tends to happen accidentally during their activities. I figure a group of kids who just want to have innocent fun and not cause any trouble should be encouraged to find a way to do that.

As far as injuries go ... well, for instance, when you're a preteen and get shot in the leg with an arrow, you figure if mom and dad find out you'll never be able to play with your bows again, so you learns quick and dirty bandage techniques. Lots of big ouchies could have been greenstick fractures; back then you just sucked it up and went on. Later in life I cracked a rib in a fall, but since they can't do much with rib injuries anyway I never went in to have it officially diagnosed.

Anyway, glad to hear from you! I'm doing well -- not great, and sometimes rotten, but a lot better than I could be. the job market's slow everywhere, so I should be thankful just to have a job. Hope you find one for yourself, soon, and hopefully one you like!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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