Skating away

Although I am by no means a skateboarder, skate parks are wonderful places.  Possum Creek is Gainesville’s newest free, public skate park, and I think it’s one of the best things a city has ever done.  Everywhere you look, there are things for little kids to do, many of them free, or at least cheap.  There are plenty of things for the over-21 crowd to do as well, but teenagers are often completely overlooked.  Too old for playgrounds, too young for bars, in many places they are simply left to their own devices.  Then everyone wrings their hands and complains about how destructive they are.

Skate parks are a really good answer to that.  Almost everyone at this park was a teenager (teen boy, to be precise), and not one of them was out stealing, fighting, or otherwise causing trouble.  Instead, they were busy, letting off steam, learning new skills and waiting their turns.  Sounds like something that should be encouraged, doesn’t it?

So often parks like this are discouraged simply because they attract teens.  To me, that is one of the greatest things about them.  It is amazing to watch this group perform intricate stunts, and practice them over and over and over again until they get them right.  There is a great spirit of cooperation here, with people helping others, giving tips and waiting until it is safe to start their own tricks.

*****

Most importantly, however, is the amazing joy these guys are feeling in moving their own bodies.  The grace of their physical exertion belies the myth of the awkward teenager, and instead shows them off at their best.  Even when they don’t get it right, they look good, and they get up and do it again.

Warning: I am an architecture geek, even when it comes to things like skateboarding.  The forms of the park thrill me just as much as the action there.  These parks have to be rigorously crafted for safety and performance.  The end result is quite striking, in some ways austere in the bare concrete of it, and at the same time, sensual with its remarkable curves.  Curves, angles and straightaways are all integral parts of the whole, each designed for different activities, yet they must blend seamlessly together.

Please note that I know none of these guys at all.  I just hung around the park looking a bit creepy with my camera just so that I could bring these pictures to you.  Also, please note, as if you couldn’t tell, action shots really aren’t my strong suit.  Please don’t judge me by these!

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