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MN 2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Joe Thalman District 49B
Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Are you a skateboarder? Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?
I skated a bit as a kid, but the sport was primitive compared to what kids are doing today. My son, Josh, skated every day and all of his friends were skaters, some were sponsored. My son did some work for a skate shop. My cousin was a very high level skater and skated with Tony Hawk.
Skateboarding has always had an appeal to youth and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity (ages 3-60+ years). Minnesota needs more opportunities for our citizens to be outside, active and creative in community social spaces. Do the communities you would represent have quality, accessible and visible skateboard spaces?
The two that I know of are located in Edina and Bloomington. The park in Bloomington is on the east side of town. I can imagine that skaters on the west side of town might like a park closer to their home since so many skaters may not yet drive.
Minnesota hosted the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During the three X Games Minneapolis events, women and men competed in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the Olympics for Tokyo 2021. Skateboarding has become a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation other than safe places to roll. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.
It is a great way to fine tune all of those little stabilizing muscles, it is a great work out and develops tremendous balance and quickens reaction times. It is very inexpensive and open to anyone who wants to give it a try.
Quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use and value of tax payer resources due to their constant use and minimal maintenance. Here is St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis speaking to public skateparks community value. Other community amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, trails and courts need large dedicated spaces, costly programming, and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Beyond team sports, our community members need activities that challenge them mentally and physically. How will you support youth and community health with new ideas and infrastructure?
There may opportunities to add skate parks to serve more skaters as resources allow. It is a very inexpensive facility and the popularity of the sport has continued to grow and thrive. Demand is expected to grow.
Skateboarding is an individual challenging activity that can be done alone, but flourishes at community public skateparks that also can work within our COVID-19 era of social distancing. The University of Southern California just completed a study of skateboarding with these findings, “What we learned from skateboarding youth was profound. Study data illustrate how skateboarding bolsters mental health and facilitates community. Skaters of color explained feeling safer and more supported in the skate community. Skaters clearly articulated skills they learned through skating, such as persistence (skaters will practice a trick hundreds of times until they land it), problem solving, intergenerational and cross-cultural communication.” Our Minnesota communities need new ideas and resources to help serve our youth. Will you support the MN State Skate Park Matching Grant Program HF2490/SF1490?
I would like to support the development of new parks as resources allow. The financial realities of the upcoming budget deficit will likely necessitate the postponing of such a project until another year.