Situated just minutes from both Cambridge and Boston, Orchard Skateshop has been New England’s key shop since it opened its doors back in 2006. Since then they have been a welcome refuge for all local and traveling skaters from across the globe.
If their skate team, a virtual who’s who of Boston’s past, present and future rippers, is any gauge of how entrenched they are in the scene then it goes without saying that you don’t make it big in Beantown without riding for Orchard.
And although Orchard is one of the youngest shops in the Red Bull DIY contest their commitment to skateboarding, in general, and their scene on a local level, assures us that they’ll be a fixture in Boston for decades to come.
The biggest DIY move you can make in skateboarding is opening your own shop. What made you want to do it?
My first biz partner John Devoe and I wanted to open a shop that would be a great skateshop and also be there for the community to help the scene.
Describe the scene in your area that you’re shop has helped cultivate.
We do all of our events free. That includes, jams, contests, video premieres, art shows, demos, shop signings and skatepark/skate outreach events at schools.
I think we have helped create a scene that encourages people to be involved and have fun with skateboarding. I think we've done pretty well to bring some unity to the scene, which in the end is good for everyone.
When you think of DIY skate spots, what comes to mind? What are your favorite DIY spots of all time?
Burnside, FDR, The New Bedford Park, Groton, CT, all the stuff that Pontus Alv is doing all over the place.
Why are DIY spots so important to a scene?
They are so important to the scene because it represents taking things into your own hands to create something rad for people. We are grateful when a town builds a place for us, but often these places take more than a decade to build and things get lost in translation.
You can end up with a great place or a million dollar hole in the ground that isn't even as good as your favorite ledge spot.
I think they represent a middle ground between street and a skatepark. It represents the rebellious and creative spirit of skateboarding and appropriation of space that is often otherwise unused.
What were some of the DIY spots your skate scene has had over the years, even as far back as when you were growing up?
When we were growing up in the early 90s we had a spot on Cape Cod that was an old tennis court on the same grounds as an Olympic size skateable pool. At one point it was a fat farm.
Rumors abounded that Fred Smith was going to come skate it. This local legend named Jascha used to blast early grab 360s, which blew our minds. The thing had graffiti all over it of all the best punk bands. There was a dilapidated mansion to break into.
A local arsonist burned down the building next to it. In the courts we had a drain pipe that fell over after every ride on slide attempt, janky launch ramps, a curb that somebody dragged from somewhere, a filing cabinet and a bank ramp that was pieces of wood leaning on a hill; it was shit but it was ours.
One time this kid stepped on a rusty nail that was part of a ramp and it went right through his foot. In the early 2000's we cemented a bank to barrier over a few occasions (in South Boston) and the spot was sick. There were a bunch of photos in magazines which was cool to see.
What are your thoughts on the recent resurgence of kids making their own spots all over the place? And why is it necessary, especially on the East Coast, when so many municipalities are making subpar parks.
It’s beautiful to see. It's like a slow revolution of thought in skateboarding where people see stuff, get inspired and then create their own thing. It's necessary because I think a small percentage of the parks being built aren’t good.
The towns give the jobs to the lowest bidders who generally don't have a clue what they are doing and you can't measure how much a park sucks once it's built because the kids often will go anyway. DIY is a way to sidestep that situation.
What is your take on the fact that for very cheap skaters can make a very good spot whereas townships spend ungodly amounts of money on awful parks?
Society has many rules in this day and age with unions and safety this and regulation that. The red tape is pretty hard to see through.
My take is parks are good and DIY stuff is like a weed it will grow where ever it can; you just have to try planting the spot. Some stuff gets wiped out quickly and other things can flourish into a spot that the town sanctions in a best-case scenario.
Tell us about the place you’ve chosen to refurbish for this Red Bull DIY contest? Who started it? When did it start? What was the location?
This spot was chosen because there are very few areas in Boston that you could build something without people losing their minds over it.
This is a spot that is not quite full permission but it's kind of an experiment to see if the skaters can make it work. It's located in Jamaica Plain. It started a year or two ago by the Fancy Lad guys. Snake Eyes local kids from the area kill it.
Who is your work crew that is helping on the refurbishing?
Doug Moore is leading the way. B-Leff, T-Mac, Xeno, Noah Powell, Tom Dupere, Rob Collins, Snake Eyes crew and all the neighborhood skate rats and tons more are all chipping in. Too many names to list have all helped out in some way and everyone’s contributions make it that much more rad.
What does this Red Bull DIY contest mean to you and your scene?
A helping hand to make something awesome.
Describe your dream DIY spot, if you had endless resources, what would you build?
Jersey barrier on a perfect bank, varying levels of flat, smooth flat, containing some natural skateable stuff that doesn't need to be altered, water source, dirt source, power source, no neighbors, random junk everywhere, haunted house next door and a corner store in skateable distance.
No plans; just see what happens.
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