Skateboarding is Zzzzzzz…..


A recent study in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability suggests that skateboarders in Chicago perform in and transform urban spaces by exploring different terrains and developing unforeseen uses. Waxing ledges is a widespread practice among skateboarders that smoothens ledges allowing for speed and exhilaration, communicating to other skateboarders that ‘here is a cool space’.

Yet far from damaging the environment, this timely article concludes that skateboarders have a different ethic of environmental care: an ‘alternative sustainability’. Focusing on the Chicago skateboarding scene in both sanctioned skate parks and illicit skate spots, it highlights the intersections of skateboarding and the sustainability agenda in the city of Chicago.

‘Waxing ledges: built environments, alternative sustainability, and the Chicago skateboarding scene’ features in a recent Special Issue of Local Environment on Children, young people and sustainability.

That’s from the press release for the Journal. A press release that ironically states “Any views expressed in this Press Release are not those of the Taylor & Francis Group.” So the publisher hires a publicist to promote their work, but doesn’t want to be held accountable for the contents of the press release. Excellent. I’m not sure what’s more boring, over intellectualizing skateboard culture, or what passes as a “skate plaza” in Chicago. Is it just me, or does that look like a tennis court and a couple of prefab turds? This sort of scholarly dissection of skateboarding and skateboarders, although tedious and somewhat ridiculous, still benefits the skateboarding population at large. Every academic endorsement that comes our way makes it easier for the next skatepark to be funded, or absurd law to be repealed.

– Thanks to Darrin Hill for the tip.


  1. I’ll try and tip you off to something a little less boring next time. 🙂

  2. I agree with Kilwag– academic research writing is usually not riveting works of non-fiction. But whatever you can bring to the table (studies, graphs, statistics) to help build skateparks or soften anti-skate attitudes is helpful. Academic articles are supposed to present research to other scholars, not tell an interesting story. Finding them boring– although a completely valid reaction– is like finding music too “musical”. The great stories of skating will never be told in the pages of a research journal and probably not in any print format for that matter. That said, I found Vivoni’s article to be quite good. And his bibliography is worth cutting and pasting into your evidence file called “See- Lots of Smart People Are Writing About Skating”

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