The past few months have been an exercise in patience as I wait for a potential space for Stronger Skatepark to be ready for occupancy. As of this writing there is no date in sight, as the owners of the space are slowly jumping though legal hoops before the city will grant them the permits to begin construction on the ADA bathrooms they need to be approved for occupancy. Long story short, this space will not be available for several months.
In the meantime I found another potential home for the park in Milwakie. It is much closer to my home and needs far less work before we can move in. This space has kept me up at night again, fully renewing my passion for this project. I can’t sleep becuase I’m designing ramps in my head, thinking of the best way to make a 7500 square foot space both friendly to beginners while being big enough and fast enough to keep veterans like myself entertained during the long winter months.
Its been a full two and half years since I started working on Stronger. Its been over a year since I started looking for buildings. I honestly thought that getting funding would be the hardest part, but it hasn’t been. Finding a building has been exponentially more difficult. Strict occupancy rules and high fees in Portland have pushed me to neighboring cities, where empty large spaces are in short supply.
I wax and wane in my involvement in my own social media for the project, feeling like a failure as I have nothing to post. I’m still here working away at this, but it just hasn’t materialized yet. Having the support of my ramp designer and builder has been absolutely key to my not giving up. As I apologize for dragging him to yet another space, and asking him so many of the same questions again, “Would this space work?”, “Can we fit a mini ramp in here?”, “Would we need to put in our own flooring?” he reassures me, “Its fine, I don’t mind at all!” and “I think you are doing this the right way, taking your time to find the right space.”
It doesn’t feel right to me, I want results, I want a tangible skatepark. The one that fills the gap Portland still has; something larger than commonwealth, friendly to beginners, clean, safe, and close to town, a place to hold contests and other community building events, a place where the skate community can gather under one roof, a place that can bring us together. “Together we are Stronger” thats the whole idea. This has been needed in Portland since before I lived here, since Department of Skateboarding closed its doors in 2010.
Along with the frustration of the slowness of my vision to materialize is my frustration that I don’t have a career to be working at while I’m waiting. In the past I’ve been a children’s pastor, a nanny, I’ve worked in my families restaurant, I worked in a skatepark as a teen, I’ve worked with animals in several capacities, and currently I’m hustling in that new gig economy, primarily delivering food with Caviar.
To be honest, I don’t hate it, I actually like it. I spend hours driving while listening to podcasts and music. I’m introverted and often feel refreshed after a shift, spending five or more hours almost totally alone, with only a few short words to restaurant employees and customers. I’ve learned that usually customers don’t want to talk to me, and that is just fine. But its not paying the bills, the hours are limited, and I’m working almost exclusively when my child is not in school, evenings and weekends.
While driving I often find my mind wandering away from whatever podcast is playing and I start thinking. I can spend a lot of time thinking, planning, finding problems with my plans and ideas and refining them and suddenly realize I need to start my podcast over completely. Gui Raz has been droning on in the background for thirty minutes about art art and I didn’t catch a damn thing, I’ve been exploring every career possibility in my head.
After a lot of thinking and probably not enough research I’ve decided to try and develop my writing skills and look for some freelance writing jobs. Its a skill I already have, and one I feel very comfortable in. One of my earliest jobs was writing for a website, with weekly live call-ins to an internet radio show. I was 13 and it was 1999. Each week I would write about something related to skateboarding, usually a review of a product sent to me, or an overview of an event happening at my local skatepark. I would report on demos coming to town, contest results, new skateparks opening, and I got paid in lots and lots of free stuff. I loved it.
In high school, I was consistently praised for “my natural wiring voice” and in college I continued to excel at writing, without trying all that hard. Honestly, I’m excited about taking some time to refine my writing skills further. I’m hoping that I can attempt to develop these skills and make some money along the way and maybe some day have a real career I can lean on when my crazy passions aren’t panning out as hoped.
Again, long story short, if anyone knows any writing gigs that would fit my interests and passions (skateboarding, alternative education, spirituality, personal growth, small business) please send them my way, or throw my name out there. I’d appreciate it. I’m officially throwing my name out there!