*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
While Museum aka Civic Park as a shared space has been in the urban planning of the park long before the new residents moved into the apartments above 6 weeks ago. The resistance to skateboarding and skateboarders has already unfortunately began. While skaters are used to the constant barrage of tsks and “act your age” from do-gooders, security and law enforcement the latest petition to ban skateboarding at “Museum Park” (CIVIC) completely disregards that the space was in actual fact designed with a skaters influence with skateboarders in mind. The space has fast become one of Newcastle’s most successful social spaces which until recently was unoccupied.
While the Museum, council and majority of residents are in favour for skaters using the space there is always unfortunately going to be some sort of shade thrown. So I thought I would take this opportunity to rebut Karen* and her 30 followers with a witness statement.
While Karen* has proclaimed that same old story that skaters too often hear. That we are a loud, violent and substance abusing bunch we suggest Karen* should shut down all pubs that surround her new dwelling also. By creating this social identity that is forbidden, less superior and not a contributing part of the community they are only reinforcing a stereotype they, themselves have created. The physical and mental determination to actually participate or understand Skateboarding and its culture is far deeper than any outsider could ever understand.
Newcastles skateboarding scene brings people of all cultures, backgrounds together. It is one of the most supportive scenes I have ever been a part of. Rarely mentioned, in the upper houses of social hierarchy is the capacity that the sub culture of skateboarding has the power to generate positive social behaviours. For instance skateboarding encourages a diverse group of people to participate with in a community. Skaters are taught to respect a spot, face new challenges, help out fellow skaters, take turns and be respectful of other skaters. Skateboarding is about determination and perseverance all while being physically active with a group of like minded individuals.
While the ban claims that the “tranquility of the once beautiful space” is now under threat, prior to the 6 weeks of residents residing in this area had been vacant. Since 2014 when the government shut down the commuter rail into the City, most of Hunter street and Museum was a baron place. A place that had vacant shops and the only people that walked its streets were skaters, blue collar workers and the people that society had tried so hard to forget eg people that sleep rough, suffering from psychotic episodes, had been using or where using. Fortunately for skaters, Skateboarding thrives in the spaces that have been forgotten by capitalist builders and it grows and brings culture to the areas society deem unusable. This area until recently would not have been suitable for Karen* and her gentrified followers. That is what gentrification is, it is deliberately designed to push the marginalised community out.
Museum Park has become an iconic skate spot for Newcastle skaters, the space has become so popular that it already has featured in skate videos, skate mags and had pros come from around Australia to use the forgotten space that society and capitalist development had recently had left behind. Skateboarding is no longer something to be shunned. Instead, skateboarding should be commended on its artistic, cultural, educational and commercial value to urban lives, addressing social challenges. The narrow-minded view of angry adults, ‘rate payers’ and power abusing security that ‘skateboarding is countercultural and separate to society’ needs to be replaced with one that is more inclusive of the diverse sport.
Let us skate the streets, make them colourful and continue to use the Museum space with the respect that we always have. Give way to pedestrians, throw your trash in the bin, and be mindful of the grumpy old troll that resides upstairs.