Skateboarding as we know it, is growing up. And with that comes an awareness and concern with how we as a culture and industry have operated in the past. The wonderful hosts behind Pushing Boarders recognized this and have created a space for people from every corner in skateboarding – the academics, industry heads, charity leaders, publication editors, and skateboarders – to come together and have (many) a conversation about where we go from here.
Tucked away in the port town of Malmö, this year’s Pushing Boarders was hosted over 4 days in conjunction with Skate Malmö and the Smörgåsbord Film Festival. This event wasn’t like others in skateboarding where you’re usually exhausted at the end of the day from alcohol intake. Instead, I found myself tired from the amount of information intake and the topics being discussed, having my view shaken up one discussion panel after the other. Major themes of mental health, LGBTQI+ identities and cis male dominance of skate culture underscored discussions on journalism ethics, academia, gendering, intersectional racism, homophobia and relationships that skateboarders hold with their environments.
If any of those have you scratching your head and asking you what they have to do with skateboarding, good. And to answer: it has everything to do with skateboarding. Depending on who you ask, skateboarding has worked ‘just fine’ for those involved in it over the last 40 years, but only now is it coming to a boiling point that we need to dismantle the toxic aspects that have gripped the culture for so long. There are new voices at the table who are rightfully concerned about being welcomed, having representation and not being taken advantage of or tokenized in the process. In a lot of ways, Pushing Boarders was much needed group therapy. While it was a gathering of like minded people, it was also an airing of grievances for people who are deeply passionate about skateboarding and concerned about the ground shifting beneath them.
It was my first year attending Pushing Boarders and it won’t be my last time. To me, Pushing Boarders has facilitated something very important, and that is the space to discuss openly, freely and without discrimination with people who will listen and reciprocate. These weren’t typical conversations that happen your local park. Rather, they result in a level of discomfort as we looked inward and realized, ‘Hm, maybe that standard is extremely shitty.’ Pushing Boarders is not here to save skateboarding or fix its problems. Instead, the organization has taken on the duty of starting the conversation about what happens next for us, and casts much needed light on the shadows and neglected parts that have been there since the beginning.
We encourage our readers to see the Pushing Boarders website for more information and to follow these organizations who are making skateboarding a more accessible inclusive place.
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