A skatepark is rising in New Orleans—a DIY park designed by skateboarders, built by skateboarders, and funded by all of us working together. When you rock a Parisite cap or board, you're not just showing your loyalty to the DIY ethic, you're actually building ramps.
Last Day Treat - Pariscope - Edited by Bob Weisz - Dir. Matt Guidry
Check out the park as it stands today in this new video from our friends at hollarrr.com!
What’s the largest U.S. city without a skatepark?
But that's changing! And it's thanks to a bunch of skaters who refused to give up.
They were so tired of begging the city for a skatepark, they went ahead and built their own: the Peach Orchard. It was instantly legendary, but it didn't last. A bulldozer sent by the railroad flattened it in minutes.
So the skaters built another park. This time, they built on city land. And for a minute, it looked like history was about to repeat itself: the city was talking about knocking it down. But then something amazing happened.
Some radical minds in city hall decided to take a chance on the skaters. As a result, the park is now totally legal and up to code. Check out how far we've come in 2 years:
With your help, we're about to start Phase 3.5, a massive transitionland at the front of the park. We've designed it to be fun for all skill levels: a concrete dreamscape with endless flow.
Want to help out? We've made all this cool stuff you can get. Every penny goes toward the new ramps!
Where the money goes
We're two years into the build, and the space is so big that we're just getting started. Right now, we're looking for support for an interconnected set of concrete ramps, called transitions, that will reach from the park's entrance deep into the existing DIY zone, toward what the skaters call "Pleasure Island." Once it's done, Phase 3.5, as it's known around here, will result in better flow, more challenge, and more opportunities to skate a creative line. It's designed to be fun for all skill levels.
How much of the money goes to construction? Every penny. It's as simple as that.
Once we're done with Phase 3.5, will the park be finished? Not by a long shot! We'll still have 30,000 square feet of beautiful concrete slab ahead of us.
How’d we get here?
Our story starts in 2008, when a group of young skateboarders found the perfect place to skate: a big concrete slab, hidden by trees, a highway, and some railroad tracks. The skaters pooled their lunch money, and the ramps grew slowly, one $3 bag of Quikrete at a time. The Peach Orchard was instantly legendary. But it didn't last long. In May 2012, bulldozers sent by the railroad flattened the park in a matter of minutes.
New Orleans went back to being the biggest U.S. city without a public skatepark. Once again, it seemed like skateboarders just didn't have any friends.
The park was gone, but the community was still there
Two weeks later, bruised and battered, the skaters started rebuilding—just a few yards away, on blighted public land under a highway. They grabbed shovels and rakes, and bit by bit, they transformed a trash-strewn dumping ground into a spot that the kids from the neighborhood could safely call their own. A new skatepark started going up on Paris Avenue. They called it Parisite.
At the same time, other skaters started making trips to City Hall—a lot of trips. In fact, they spent a year trudging down every corridor, having conversations with people at every level of city government. What they found surprised them: people who were willing to take a chance on skateboarders. And after some paperwork—and some very honest talk about what was expected of us—the city legalized the skatepark and gave us the green light to improve it: it was beyond our wildest dreams.
A word to non-skateboarders...
Let's be fair. Why should anyone care that New Orleans has no skate park? Skateboarding—when properly counted—is the number-three youth sport in the U.S.: that means more kids have skateboards than have baseball gloves. And yet what has New Orleans done for its 16,000 skateboarders? It's not crazy to connect the lack of skate spots for city kids with high rates of street violence, juvenile arrests and youth health problems.
The youth have spoken back: we want durable concrete infrastructure designed by and for us. Radical minds in city hall have given us the green light to try. They're curious to see if we'll hold up our end of the deal—and you can bet they're watching this project to see how much community support we get.
A skatepark that prevents flooding
Parisite is more than a skatepark. We've planned it that way. Parisite's site-wide landscaping catches storm water coming from the interstate above, feeding rain gardens full of native plants. Runoff-neutral site design helps prevent localized flooding and lessens the burden on nearby pumping stations. Skateboarding was born in concrete drainage channels, and we believe that a skatepark that addresses water management and promotes zero-emission transportation makes for a more resilient New Orleans.
If you give, you won't be alone. We've already gotten support from Spohn Ranch Skateparks, which donated an entire street course, and from Tulane University, whose City Center project has just built an entrance to the park as a gift to New Orleans skaters.
We've also gotten donations from the Tony Hawk Foundation, the Arts Council of New Orleans, Platforms Fund, and from football player Drew Brees, and we're exploring partnerships with Black Rock Arts Foundation, Norfolk Southern Foundation and others to transform underused public land into a haven for city kids.
Most of all, we have the support of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and the Capital Projects Administration, all of whom have taken a big chance on us. We won't let you guys down.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge: building permits. The skatepark sits on state land that is leased by the city, under a Federal highway. That's right: our plans have to pass muster with three overlapping jurisdictions. It takes time, and a truckload of persistence, and it helps that we're skaters because we don't expect mastery to come easy. Here's the good news: we've already gone through the process once, so we have a clear road map of how it works. We know the decision makers, and they know us. And if we build this phase according to plan, we can expect a smooth road ahead. State officials are keeping their eye on this page to see how we do—let's show them that you have our back.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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