Last year Pushing Boarders happened for the first time in London and I was super bummed that I missed it because I had to go somewhere else at that time. But it looked so rad that there was no way to not go there to this years edition in Malmö. If you’re not familiar with what Pushing Boarders is about, I think the easiest way to describe it is to say that it is a non-profit conference where people from everywhere in skateboarding get together to talk about things that have been overlooked for too long. Or how Ted Barrow said it: “The best fucking conference I've ever been to.”
Be nice and go skate.
The statement above is from the event programme and it sets the tone for this conference. Pushing Boarders is trying to be inclusive (like skateboarding or any other scene should be anyway in the first place but sometimes it needs events like this to remind people about this), to talk about marginalized topics, to bring people together and empower them, to build bridges and find ideas for a better and happier future for everyone.
Pushing Boarders is doing this by panels, discussions, workshops and last but not least skating, although most of the skateboard events that were organized by Skate Malmö Street were rained out. But despite the weather everybody seemed to have a great time and enjoyed meeting friends from all over the world (the 63 panelists alone came from 19 different countries), talking, connecting, exchanging ideas and making new friends.
To describe everything that has happened during the four days of the conference is slightly impossible cause so much was going on. From the cultural heritage of sacred spots to social media, from the domination of the masculine and the straight to the question what is core, and from grassroot NGO work to skate journalism – a lot of topics were discussed. Plus there was a lot of stuff going on on the side like video nights or a poetry reading. A lot to do, a lot of discussion, a lot of new perspectives, and first and foremost: a lot of fun.
If you haven’t been there, you might wanna go there next year (the whole event is free, did I mention that?) although the organizeres at the end of the conference seemed kinda scared by the idea that it could grow even more cause them and the volunteers that helped setting everything up were already working on their limit this time, running this on the side of their regular dayjobs. So maybe you want to hit them up to work with them as a volunteer next year. Attending the conference is definitely worth it cause a) it was about time that a forum like this got created and you can’t support it enough, and b) you’ll have a great time with lovely people in an inspiring environment.
In 2019 skateboarding already has more than 50 years of history and heritage and some of that heritage tended to drift in a certain direction, which wasn’t questioned too much. That lead to the exclusion of people and ignoring certain topics. But skateboarding should be free for everyone, should be inclusive, colorful, supportive, creative and fun and Pushing Boarders is trying to promote this. The talks will be online soon and when they’re, we'll remind you with another post so you can get into it in depths. But till then I’d say it’s a good start if we ask ourselves the following question a bit more often: How can I act to not only get the most best out of skateboarding for me but for everybody – maybe even people that don’t skate?
And another important thing to say is that there was a topic that was introduced by John Rattray and Madelaine Ugga at the first day which ran through all of the panels and it was mental health. We had some tragic losses in the skatecommunity over the last time and even if there wouldn’t have been a chance to prevent them, trying to talk to friends about how you feel when you suffer or even more important the other way round, trying to support your friends when you realize they have a problem is always a good thing. Mental health issues should no longer be stigmatized. We are a community of friends, of sisters and brothers and we should care for each other and help each other. It’s nice to land a kickflip but there’s nothing better than helping a friend to feel good.