Every Northwest skater knows how important the Orcas Island skatepark is to our culture.  Now it seems that the behavior of a few, and a lack of stewardship has led the local school district down the path of potentially closing the park.

The Orcas park, built by the early Grindline/Dreamland crew, stands as a monument to design/build creativity and skatepark design.  Legendary filmmaker Warren Miller got behind the project, and funded the majority of the construction through his foundation.  The community got behind it, and produced a true destination skatepark that draws skaters from all over the world to one of the most remote and beautiful skateboarding experiences on the planet.

But that remote “destination” quality also gave some skaters the impression they could relax when it comes to respecting the rules.  Helmets are required at Orcas, and several times throughout the years issues and controversy have erupted when skaters refused to comply.  Pro skate teams have always been averse to wearing helmets because some feel they make for lame photos, but two years ago a Seattle skater who was visiting actually disrespected Warren Miller with foul language when he was told by the park’s godfather to strap on a lid.

These types of issues are totally the exception, and most skateparks are self-policed and positive places.  But this is the type of crap that makes it hard for local advocates to get skateparks built in thier own communities.  Seattle skaters need to watch this episode carefully and step back a bit to consider how their behavior can have averse effects on the health of our community.

There are a few things you can do right now to help improve the situation at Orcas, and in your own local skatepark:

  • Write a letter, email, or call the Orcas Island School Board and let them know that you are a skateboarder, and that you support them in taking measures to improve the environment at the park, but insist that closing the park is not the solution:

Orcas Island Schools
557 School Road
Eastsound, WA 98245

Administrative Office:
(360) 376-2284

Barbara Kline (Superintendent) bkline@orcas.k12.wa.us

David Mierau (Maintenance Dept. Facilities Director) dmierau@orcas.k12.wa.us

Scott Lancaster ihsscott@rockisland.com

  • Take action when you witness behavior at a skatepark that could threaten the positive environment there.  Call BS on people who insist on bringing alcohol into the park.  It can be done in a way that’s respectful, just explain that you want to be able to keep skating there and that we want more parks to be built.  Take ownership of your park… your park will love you for it.
  • Form a “Friends of” group for your skatepark.  The City of Seattle has a program that’s pretty easy to enroll in.

Hopefully this wake up call will only result in a heightened awareness of how our behavior in skateparks can either have a positive or negative affect on our ability to enjoy safe and accessible public skateparks.  We’re all ambassadors for skateboarding when we’re in public skateparks.  If you feel it, reach out.  If not, just don’t act like an idiot.

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