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MPRB Candidate Questionnaire
Jono Cowgill

Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?

As a Minneapolis kid I enjoyed skateboarding on my Star Wars-themed board. I have not skated in a while but do have friends who skate or who started skating and moved to related professional sports activities like snowboarding, skate-skiing and bike polo. My understanding of the skate community in Minneapolis is that it is a supportive, strong community of adventurous athletes.

MPRB currently has 1 skatepark in each of the 6 MPRB districts. Each MPRB skatepark is over 11 years old and is in need of replacement due to poor design and materials. MPRB has invested $0 into skateparks and skateboard infrastructure in the past decade. Over the past 4 years skateboard supporters and City of Skate have worked to have 10 new skateparks designated into MPRB master plans. We hope to have a citywide total of 20 skateparks and skate-spaces, once all masterplanning is complete in 2020. As of today, MPRB has not funded nor prioritized any one of these designated new skateparks. How will you prioritize and work to fund skateparks?

It is my hope that skateparks can be prioritized with the organized, consistent support of the skating community. We can prioritize skatepark funding during infrastructure improvements at the 10 proposed skatepark sites if there is the consistent pressure of the community to invest in that outcome. I am also an advocate of more flexibility in park spending across our local parks, which I believe would help facilitate these investments more swiftly.

In 2017 and 2018 Minneapolis is hosting the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games. During X Games Minneapolis, women and men will compete in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Skateboarding is seen by many as a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender, and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.

I am not aware of specific demographic numbers regarding skateboarding participation, but my anecdotal experience suggests it is a sport with significant ethnic/racial diversity but less gender diversity. I look forward to being educated and learning more about specific current demographics as well as efforts to increase diversity within the community. I am supportive of diversifying the kinds of sports offerings in our recreation areas to ensure that people of all backgrounds and interests have the opportunity to use our park spaces.

Skateboarding has always had an appeal to teenagers and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity that maintains a user group that varies in ages from approximately 4 to 60+ years old. MPRB needs more opportunities for our citizens to be active and creative. Along with skateboarding, what investments and activities can MPRB embrace to make our communities more active and interactive?

Intergenerational programming is paramount to healthy community development. That means providing opportunities for mentorship across a variety of activities, from pottery and painting to archery and basketball. Leveraging community partnerships and investing in park staff are key ways to develop programming that engages elders and youth, parents and teens, and even little kids with older kids.

With little to no maintenance needed, quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use of tax payer resources. Other park amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, and courts need large dedicated spaces and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Additionally, during the last decade, MPRB has spent more money trying to stop skateboarding via defensive architecture (skate-stoppers) than it has on skateboard parks and/or features. With collaboration during design and build processes, would you support skateboarding via the activation of everyday park features such as benches, stairs, railings, ledges and sculptures for skateboarding?

I would be open to having that discussion, and working with local community members to educate and listen. I want to ensure that there is respect and understanding so that these spaces are useful for all community members.

To be able to practice and challenge their skills, skateboarders have always sought underutilized public spaces like deserted plazas, schoolyards, tennis courts, and parking lots. Often skate culture has brought a “Do It Yourself” (D.I.Y.) creativity to spaces, creating their own skate features and spaces.  Would you be willing to work with the skate community to sanction spaces for skateboarders to create their own D.I.Y. spaces?


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