I remember the day Kirby Clark walked into the store I worked.
Neither of us had previously met, but her floral shorts, pink spray jacket, skated out pink shoes and bruised knees reinforced my intuition that we would somehow be involved in each others lives.
I asked her as she looked around "is that a decks for change pin? where did you get it?" she replied shocked but stoked "yeah how did you find out about decks for change" and so our friendship started, two girls talking in a skate store about something we both loved. As Kirby would put it, "sharing the stoke that is skateboarding".
Like any other millennial we followed each other on socials and I kept her up to date with what was happening my way and Kirby her way.
I feel that I have something to owe Kirby, she is constantly working and advocating for skateboarding, the less fortunate, womens and human rights. She is a super woman working way too hard, but still managing to get the shit done.
Here is a quick few questions I asked her.
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How long have you been skating?
I started skating at 13 and then stopped a few years later to pretend to be a grown up, then started again at about age 25. I'm 30 now, so yeah basically too long to still be avoiding transition over 4 foot lol.
What has been your favourite experience skateboarding?
Dude...there's so many. Everything from growing up with the best crew of little skate rats to making beautiful friendships across the globe. Skateboarding has given me so much I honestly couldn't imagine where I'd be without it.
There is a growing sisterhood in skateboarding, do you feel the girls only nights, events and crews help alleviate the intimidation that some girls face in a male dominated sport ?
For girls wanting to get into skateboarding definitely, I wish there would have been crews and meet-ups like there are now when I was a kid, I probably wouldn't have stopped skating. Sometimes the girls only nights can be excluding of queer, trans and non-binary in the language they use but there are some great crews out there changing that. In general I feel the whole scene is becoming more diverse and less intimidating but I can only speak from my experiences, and I feel the older I get the less I give a fuck about boys swinging their dicks around.
Any words of advice to girls, ladies, grans that are just starting out ? Skateboarding is for you, not anyone else, do what makes you feel good.
Do you have a fave all girl squad to follow online or skate with ?
I skate with whoever is around basically haha I have a bunch of friends near where I live that I skate a spot near my house called Urban Park (shoutout @chatweekly), and still skate with a bunch of crew from when we started a thing called DNL (which is no longer a thing, long draining story, people got greedy, we just wanted to skate). My fave squad to follow is a newly formed crew called Neighbour skate (@neighbour_skate), a queer skateboarding project based in Melbourne for local queer, trans and gender diverse folks. It was started by two beautiful friends of mine, Park & Tara, that are just super amazing inspiring and conscious humans, the thing I love about Neighbour most (apart from their sick graphics) is how welcoming and enjoyable they make skateboarding.
The decks for change art fundraisers, seem to be the ultimate night generally filled with like minded individuals, art, music, beer and skateboarding, how did decks for change come about ?
Basically it was a result of one of my many existential crisis's, I hated my job at the time and needed to do something more meaningful so I used two things I love and brought them together, art & skateboarding, to create a positive impact. As a designer I always felt the responsibility to create change in the world around me, I feel like if you're a human in any position of privilege you have a responsibility to improve the world.
Were the DFC nights always this crowded and awesome?
Pretty much, I was so surpised our first one in Brisbane back in 2016 had like 300 people come through which was insane. That first year almost killed me though, we had exhibitions in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Launceston travelling with the same pieces of artwork, pretty hilarious I thought I could pull that off for the first year now that I think back to it haha.
What has been the most crazy experience you have had working on decks for change?
Probably going to Iraq solo and not knowing wtf to expect. There was a checkpoint we drove through when we were going to visit a remote village that had me scared, armed guards with huge semi-automatics are pretty much everywhere there which is a weird sight for an Australian, this one guard at the checkpoint was looking at me with such disapproval and talking to Hama (one of the skaters who was driving us out) in Kurdish, Hama looked super shook which was weird because I'd never seen him like that before and I was like, ah fuck what are we in for here. Anyway they kept exchanging words, the guard was getting more and more frustrated in his tone and Hama was sounding like he was shitting himself. Eventually the guard broke into laughter and so did the whole car and we drove off. I was like, 'what the fuck was that about?!' Hama said he was just fucking with us. Got me good.
What's your fave trick to teach new skaters you meet ?
Nose stall body revert, kids love it and they pick it up real quick.
Where has been your most memorable skate experience?
Probably going to Cambodia with Make Life Skate Life and Skateistan, it took me a while to get over that trip to be honest, it was emotionally heavy to learn about the history of Cambodia and see where the students of Skateistan were living and growing up. I was so touched and impressed at how hard-working and switched on all the teachers were there, and they'd all been through a similar experience of skateboarding changing their lives for the better. I'm tearing up now just writing about it, it was a trip that definitely changed me. When you see the kids getting access to education and growing through skateboarding together, you know that shit changes and saves lives.
What do you think decks for change brings to the youth in the areas you build the parks?
It's different for every location, in Iraq I felt that it was such a great platform for furthering equality between sexes, and also for bringing together so many different backgrounds and religions. It's giving the youth there something to call their own, the crew run the skatepark and put on loaner sessions every afternoon and they're constantly making improvements there, painting the park and building things. It's empowering, they're the first generation after the Sadam Hussan regime and they have the ability to build what their future looks like.
What set up are you riding at the moment?
An 8.25 WKND Alexis Sablone deck, Alexis is so incredibly talented she does her own graphics and also creates skatable sculptures. Indi titaniums, Orb wheels (cos they're pastel pink hehe) no idea what bearings probs bones reds.
Whats the strangest thing in your house? I discovered this creepy dungeon cellar under my kitchen floor a few weeks ago.
Whats your fave skate video?
That's Life by Foundation, this was my teens and I love every single thing about that video. Corey Duffel was and is still one of my favourite skaters, it's also got Gareth Stehr in it who did an artwork for Decks for Change last year which I was sooooo stoked on.
Where are you off to next, or will you be around in Aus for a bit?
We're fundraising for Dili Skatepark in East Timor at the moment so hope to get to a point this year where we go over and help Timor Skate inc. get that up and running. I'll be in Europe in August to go do some work with UnSchools and CO Project in Portugal and attend the Pushing Boarders conference.
What can we expect next from DFC?
We'll keep doing the annual fundraising events to help build skateparks. I'm working on a curriculum at the moment that teaches kiddos sustainability, problem-solving and resilience through skateboarding so hope to have that up and running next year. Probably less Decks for Change skate art workshops (sorry not sorry they're SOO much work and I've gotta pay the bills lol), but a lot more in the realms of doing good shit in other countries. <3