We are launching a new project building longboards with Twin Cities youth. Woodworking is an excellent medium for developing technical, social, and emotional skills, but boats as a craft pose some philosophical quandaries. By building boats, youth create something beautiful and useful, but often their only experience using them comes through us. Moreover, a boat is a luxury item that many people don’t have the privilege of using in their lives. By building longboards, each youth will have something beautiful and useful to take home with them.
Authentic, individual empowerment (through creative expression, connection to nature, and access to transportation) is at the heart of this effort. Boards will provide a way to experience the local environment in a way that is relevant to youth’s daily lives. Youth will decorate the boards with their own screenprinted designs. Instructors will talk about safety while using the boards, detailing required gear and laws. Youth and instructors will go on field trips to local parks and trails to practice using the boards, engaging with the nature in an urban context.
We have some of the required tools and knowledge to get started — in fact, one of the youth participants of the Apprenticeship Program, Alex, has already prototyped a board in our workshop (picture included). There is still much to be purchased and prepared before we can fully roll-out the project. Recently we connected with the owners of Rolling Tree, a local business that connects skaters and artists in the community to design boards. They gave us a board-pressing demonstration and talked about next steps to get the project started.
This project has the potential to be revolutionary for our programs and youth, but we need support to get it off the ground. We are seeking donations of safety gear and hardware from other organizations. $1,000 from the Awesome Foundation would help us establish the foundation of the project so that we can engage more youth.
Funded by Twin Cities, MN (July 2017)