Days 1,2, and 3: New York City and Baltimore, MD
July 5th marked the official ground breaking for the project! After putting my pitch out there in some preliminary emails, I was able to connect with Courtney Payne-Taylor, founder of Girl Riders Organization or gro. Shortly after falling in love with skating in 2004, Courtney spent years traveling the country, living in a van, and making stops in US cities and towns to teach girls how to skate. This solo project crew into a network of all-girl crews across the US, unified by Courtney’s non-profit organization, which seeks to create supportive, accessible environments where girls and women of all ages and backgrounds feel comfortable learning how to skate and continuing to progress.
Courtney pointed me to a Gro open session at owl’s head skatepark, also in Brooklyn, where I met Corinne, Jen, and Yasmeen, all of whom were awesome skaters and open to talking to me about their experiences of learning how to skate. They said they tend to seek out all-girls sessions for the supportive environment and the laid-back vibes.
Corinne has been in New York for a few months, and moved from France, where she has been skating for 12 years. She spoke about traveling and skating all over Europe, meeting other skateboarding women. The way she described it, it’s a very connected community. She talked about going to skateparks and introducing herself to other women she bumped into, and through the ease of making these introductions, building an international network of skateboarding women.
Yasmeen said she got into skating through downhill longboarding at slide jams, where she can usually count on meeting up with a few other girls and throwing down. She discovered the all-girls miniramp sessions that Gro organizes, and has been inspired to start learning how to ride transition on a short board.
Corinne told me about an all-girls miniramp session in Bushwick that happens every Monday, so on July 6th I showed up to hang out with the Femme Skate crew.
Raquel started skating three years ago with her boyfriend, but quickly gravitated to gro sessions because she like the kind of environment that comes with an all-girls session. She started connecting with girls, and started her own crew, Femme Skate. Her miniramp sessions are open to any girls who show up, and are advertised through flyers and instagram.
I was reluctant to leave New York, as it quickly became clear that the girls’ skate scene is strong and extensive. I definitely plan on returning to New York to find more women to talk to after my travels are complete.
Heading out of New York, I got connected with Stephanie in Baltimore, who runs a nonprofit called Skatepark of Baltimore. We met at a DIY foundation spot slated for demolition about 20 minutes outside of the Baltimore city.
All of Baltimore’s finest skaters turned out, but Stephanie was the only woman in attendance. I followed her on her motorcycle to the skatepark her nonprofit has been rasing money to build for the past ten years. Phase one of the project saw completion last year, while phase two, a street plaza, should begin construction later this year.
After a quick session in the Skateparks full-sized bowl section completed in phase one, she spoke about her experiences traveling the country with her girl-skater friends, skating parks and progressing. She moved back to Baltimore city and founded Skatepark of Baltimore. Aside from 18 months of salaried work with her non-profit through a fellowship, she’s been working as a volunteer president of the organization, advocating for the skatepark in her “spare” time. She spoke about the skatepark’s ability to bring kids together from all over the city under a shared passion. While she said she could be doing more to build a scene of girl skaters in Baltimore, she always offers advice to girls she sees learning to skate, and continues to travel and skate with other women when she has time to take away from her work.
After a brief stay in the DC area, I’ll head to Atlanta, GA, so stay tuned for another update!