Music has been around far longer than man has. Birds where singing their songs while early mammals where still trying to steal dinosaur eggs for their next meal. Skateboarding has only been around for a matter of decades by comparison. As we undergo our growing pains i hope that we can learn some lessons from this timeless practice to avoid some hopefully unnecessary pains in our development. Music and skateboarding are both incredibly passionate artistic endeavors where we get to not only express ourselves but also escape. Both are constantly progressing and pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible. Both have significant influence beyond their mediums as they effect culture and even fashion. So what can skateboarding learn from our fellow creatives in another setting?
Most importantly is how we treat the next generation coming up. Musicians work to help develop their art in the interested youth. Mature musicians engage with kids first picking up an instrument. They openly converse with younger players about the joys of music. They teach things to the up and comers. They play along with younger players because they know that people get better by playing with musicians that are better than you are. Musicians and music lovers alike both love to fuel the fire of musical passion in those new to the art. As you explore music you quickly realize what a huge world you have just entered and just how incredibly interconnected that world is.
Far too often the skate community does the exact opposite. How often at the park or local skate spot have you seen the older riders either ignore the younger skaters or even curse them out for being in the way? How are they going to learn the proper skate etiquette if not taught it by us older guys? What if you gave them a quick pointer on something they are trying? It's just a moment of you time but they will get better, be in your way less, and be more aware of you and what you are trying to do therefore more likely to not be where they now realize you are trying to be.
When you were starting out on your skateboard how awesome did it feel if one of the older guys acknowledged you, let alone talked to you? How much faster can you progress with even the simplest little tips here and there? Not only will us treating the newbies and up and comers better help them become better but they in turn with grow a sense of respect and even admiration for the more mature and even the elder statesmen of the local scene. This is how to grow not just a scene but a UNIFIED culture.
By adding fuel to that fire burning in those younger than ourselves in skateboarding we raise the whole level of skateboarding with them. With these interaction our competitive nature can more resemble musician cutting heads with one another where you strive to out-do one another but in a sense of celebrating your shared art rather than in an attempt to isolate your challengers from others.
With more of a developed culture and less isolated factions we can prevent corporations from just sweeping in, buying things up, buying skaters up, making money and leaving nothing in return for skateboarding as we've seen consistently cycling throughout the short history of our art form on boards. How we interact with our developing youth determines the ideals of our skate community, the strength of skateboarding, and more importantly the future of skateboarding.
There is a lot the skateboarding industry can learn from both the successes and failures of the music industry as well but first, as skateboarders, we need to continue to focus on continuing to build ourselves a stronger culture to ensure the health of our life saving passions. We can keep it unique, we can keep it insane, but we need to keep it OURS. How we treat each other will determine if we can keep it ours.