DIY has been something I lived before I knew what it was. Back in the early 80’s I lived in a small house in an affordable neighborhood in a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
Our neighborhood was still being developed when we moved in. New houses were emerging slowly, which made great places for my friends and I to explore. Being in these houses before the future owners lived in them was special.
There was always half-used paint cans and carpenter pencils lying around the houses. I would use these “free art supplies” to make skate art, botos, and dumb kid shit, on the inside frames before the drywall would go up. For some reason I thought my drawings were secrets between me and the house. Something I got to share with the house before the new owners moved in. If I ever became a famous artist, these would be my lost works. I was a weird kid. Plus I’ve always loved trespassing! But the absolute best thing about living in a new neighborhood was all the available wood!
Skateboarding and building ramps was my first experience with DIY culture!
Atlanta never had any skateparks when I was growing up, so we had to build our own ramps and grind boxes. We would attach wheels to the sides of our ramps to roll them wherever we wanted. Even to this day when I see a street or backyard ramp I get really nostalgic and excited.
I can’t remember whatever happened to our ramps. They just came and went. Never permanent.
Today, DIY and skateboarding still go hand and hand! DIY skate spots are alive and serve as temples to the skate gods. Built with their creators sweat and vision! We all know they won’t last forever, and that’s what makes them special.
This spot is in its infancy, but clearly it has already been under attack. I remember when I was growing up skateboarders were hated by almost every other group of people. Metalheads, rednecks, jocks, you name it, they hated us. And tried everything to stop us!
Seeing this destruction brought back all these feelings of getting pushed around, being called a skater fag, threatened, chased, and beaten. I was angry when I saw this. This was not done by the landowner or the city, this was done out of boredom, fear, or hatred.
I feel safe when I am at a DIY location. It doesn’t matter if it’s a skate spot, a music venue, or even someone’s warehouse and living space. DIY spots are my sanctuary. It’s where I can relax and be myself. Only like minded people will be there, I find comfort in that. When it gets invaded by the mainstream, they don’t understand it. DIY is seen as a threat to what they consider to be acceptable human behavior.
Destroy what you don’t understand is their mantra.
Today the trend of building something to skate is on the rise… Look at Hawaii. We have had and lost a bunch of spots over the years. Some have survived for two decades and some only run for a few months. Most recent losses that I know of are Canon Club and Gravesides (RIP). And I know we are all feeling it. Still the spirit of skateboarding pushes on.
Almost every ditch we skate has something built in it. From a small transition at the bottom to a full blown quarter-pipe at the top, the DIY culture is alive in Hawaii, and there is no signs of it slowing down!
All we can do is keep building!
Written x Adam Funari, Paul Bajcar
Photos x Adam Funari / Hal Badal / Joe Ciauri