To the Editor:
If there were such a thing as The Pandemic Awards, bestowed upon those special places and people who collectively stepped up to the plate for the benefit of the wider local community during one of its toughest stretches, the Manchester Skatepark would have to be considered a strong candidate for gold in the category of community recreational infrastructure.
The visit of Shaun White (three-time Olympic gold medalist) to the Manchester Skatepark on June 24 was symbolic of the gold medal that the Skatepark fully deserves. As sprinklers kept empty grass fields at the park alive through a desperately dry summer, the Skatepark quietly hummed and clacked away.
I am not a skater, but I quickly recognized the value of skateboarding as the perfectly designed activity for kids in a pandemic. Skateboarding is outdoors, under the sun, and naturally spacious as skaters make effort to avoid one another (the Manchester Skatepark also happens to be brilliantly shaped for flow to avoid collisions and contact).
While skating emphasizes individual style, improvisation, and relentless self-challenge, skaters exist in community, watching and riffing off each other in a cool and slightly distant context, just right for the times. Newcomers catch their breath while watching advanced local skaters demonstrate what’s possible with dedication and perseverance. (Check out @matthouran, @parr.ish, @morrocansandchild, and @drank_wata on Instagram to get a sense for the local styles).
On a global stage, skateboarding is gaining mainstream recognition, with the first USA Skateboarding National Team heading to the Tokyo Olympics if and when the Games finally take place. Clearly, momentum for skateboarding is growing across the world, as it is right here at home in Manchester.
Strikingly, the Manchester Skatepark is only one-third complete, and is dependent on community donations for the completion of its next phases.
Over much of the past year, many of us have invested heavily in renovating and upgrading our private homes and personal spaces. Let’s make 2021 a year of investing in community infrastructure. Let’s give the Skatepark a gold medal as a community, and help it to shine and grow for kids of all ages. It takes each of us to contribute in whatever ways we can to make it possible. Let’s do this. Let’s complete the Manchester Skatepark in 2021.