Posts Tagged ‘charity’

I’ve seen a few of posts on my Facebook feed featuring women in action sports.  A couple of them even tie into a “Feminism in Action (Sports)” post I am planning to write.  It’s really heart-warming to see female action sports athletes get exposure and my friends championing it.

One that particularly tugged at my heartstrings was a BuzzFeed Canada story that a friend shared.  Jeanean Thomas posted a letter on Twitter to the young man who helped teach her daughter how to skate.
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This is a perfect example of what feminism is.  Jeanean get mega props for letting her daughter know that she has equal  right to be at the skatepark.  The young man was a wonderful ally by going above and beyond to help out this beginner skater even though he was made fun of.  We need to be commending guys like him, not teasing him.  This is how a girl or a boy will develop skills and a new love for skateboarding.  When I was her daughter’s age, I had the same reservations about going to the skate park and thus never went due to lack of support.  As a result, I never went and grew frustrated with learning how to skate.  Maybe others aren’t as easily discouraged, but Jeanean’s daughter got a confidence boost through a kind individual extending a helping hand and not discriminating against her age, skill, and gender.

Another skating post appeared the other day.  My co-worker shared this striking photo, and I knew it had to be the work of Skateistan.
 photo 12278839_10205313294543871_1511743250074323011_n_zpsq5zpyw8h.jpg By Jake Simkin

It’s a non-profit that uses skateboarding to empower youth in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.  It has particularly reached out to Afghani girls who cannot ride bikes or participate in sports.  I’ll be going in depth into Skateistan in a later post, but I had to share this photo along with my co-worker’s comment that it’s evidence that “people are the same all over the world”.  It’s a message of particular importance in these recent trying times.

Finally, another friend shared a “Women in the World” feature on Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei. I’ll be writing more about her and Noora Moghaddas in a later post too, but they’re badasses for essentially breaking the law to do what they love.  Feminism often involves taking risks, and women like Behanz certainly are with the hopes that there will be more equality in the future.
 photo slack-imgs-1-com_zpsp1msdvgz.jpeg Photo from The New York Times

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I used to think that being an action sports fan would put me at odds with being a lifetime environmentalist.  It was so hard to engage in a proper dialogue with my fellow FMX lovers because they only ever saw environmentalists as “the enemy” trying to deprive them of the opportunity to ride; it was equally difficult to bring up dirt bikes in a conversation about protecting the earth.  Once I asked my ecology teacher whether dirt bikes were really that bad, and she said the damage was in going off-course into protected land, not in pollution.

These days, I see a step forward with the shift to cleaner four-stroke engines, but motocross needs to catch up with the rest of the action sports community in embracing a greener lifestyle.  Enough about the negatives though.  Let’s properly celebrate Earth Day by focusing on how action sports enthusiasts are also environmentalists.

Surfrider Foundation began with three Malibu surfers trying to save First Point.  Now the organization works to protect coastal and ocean ecosystems in eighteen countries through research, education, and activism.  Their programs are proof that everybody who loves water can co-exist as they promote sustainable living, public beach access, gardening methods that reduce run-off pollution, and ways to improve water quality.

The Surfrider Foundation's publication

The Surfrider Foundation’s publication

This past weekend, surfers in Bali got together for the final Beach Clean Up event.  Staff members from Quiksilver, Surfer Girl, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, and other organizations worked with locals, journalists, and surfers to pick up over three thousand kilograms of trash over the course of the four events.

Snowboarders have shown just as much initiative with Marie-France Roy making a movie about her environmentally conscious peers and Jamie Anderson and Elena Hight promoting eco-friendly clothing.

The X Games also took to promoting REPREVE’s water bottle-made beanies.

I was a bit worried over the environmental impact of Red Bull Supernatural, but I should have known better.  Travis Rice and Red Bull actually brought in a forester and a biologist to make sure the event wouldn’t do any harm.  When concerns were raised about the local pine population, the builders made sure not to cut down any.  This is a perfect example of how to build a course without negatively impacting natural habitats.

In reaction to the impact of climate change on winter sports, Jeremy Jones, one of the riders featured in Roy’s film, created Protect Our Winters (POW).  Last year, the non-profit petition for President Obama to abandon the Keystone XL pipeline in favor of more renewable energy sources.  Various winter sports athletes banned together via POW to form the Riders Alliance, and their activism caught the attention of The Sierra Club, just in time for the Olympics.  POW actually utilized the publicity generated by the Olympics to raise awareness on climate change, and they’ve partnered with North Face to educate students.

Also featured in Sierra Club publications is Bob Burnquist.  He’s the co-founder of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, which played a role in the X Games’ early efforts to go green.  He has worked with Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Oakley to promote sustainable living.

The ASEC site hadn’t been updated in a couple of years, but I hope they’re still active.  Regardless of where you choose to practice your sport, it’s important to consider the environment and protect the earth.  If even it’s something small like picking up after ourselves (and our friends) and not using plastic bottles, we as a community can help make a difference.  Happy Earth Day!

While I was geeking it up at Dallas Comic Con two weeks ago, Overground Skateboarding was hosting their 2nd annual tribute to legend Jeff Phillips. I was really bummed that I didn’t hear about it until afterwards (probably would have skipped DCC) because it sounded like a cool event and it was benefited The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Dallas.

Back in the 1980s, when Dallas was a skateboarding hot spot, Jeff Phillips was one of the biggest names. He gave Christian Hosoi and Tony Hawk a run for their money and proved that you could win a vert contest without pulling a McTwist. The Phillips 66 (an inverted flip with a fakie approached) is named after him, and the tribute name, Boneless One, comes from his signature trick: a frontside boneless. Jeff ran his own skatepark and dedicated his life to the local skate scene. In 1993, Jeff committed suicide.

Rolling Stone
did an feature on his life and the circumstances surrounding his death (personal troubles and the decline of the sport). We’ll never know what happened, but in the end, that’s not what is important. It’s his life and his love of skateboarding that everyone who came out to Boneless One celebrated. Even if the Dallas scene is not what it used to be, I’d like to think that it is very much alive and that Jeff would be proud.
TH8501, From http://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/magazine/january-1985/
Jeff Phillips doing a frontside boneless on the Jan. ’85 cover of Thrasher

A personal note I want to add: I am here for anybody who has thought about taking their own life and needs someone to talk to. I may not know you or know what to say, but I’ve been in that dark place and being part of the action sports community did help pull me out.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer  (excluding  non-melanoma skin cancer) among women in the U.S.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with it at some point in their lives.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the women of action sports have dedicated themselves to raise awareness and support the fight against breast cancer.

After losing her mom to the disease, motocross racer Laurie Cary started MX Ride for the Cause.  This annual event takes place in Cahuilla Creek and features much more than just riding and demos.  There’s a bra parade, an auction, a raffle, food, and a dance floor.  Proceeds go to Michelle’s Place, a breast cancer resource center in California.  This year’s MX Ride for the Cause takes place on Saturday, October 1.

Another California-based organization, Boarding for Breast Cancer, is raising awareness in the snow, skate, and surf communities.  It was founded by snowboarders Tina Basic and Shannon Dunn, video game producer Lisa Hudson, and writer Kathleen Gasperini, all of whom had a friend battling breast cancer.  B4BC makes appearances at many events, including the X Games and the Warped Tour.  It also sponsors some of the top boarders in the world: Hannah Teter, Tara Dakides, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, and Mary Osbourne.  Be sure to check out the B4BC website for information on future events, survivor stories, and how to protect yourself and get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

Remember: check your breasts monthly (at around the same time) because no one else, not even your doctor, knows your body like you do.  If you’re 40 or older, be sure to get an annual mammogram.  Guys, keep an eye out for suspicious lumps on your body too because men get breast cancer too.  The key to winning the battle is early detection.

A couple days ago, I was expressing my frustrations at the lack of support in our community for the Japanese earthquake victims and urging everyone to donate;.  Well, I need to eat my words now (even though there is always room for more support).

Freestyle motocross rider Levi Sherwood posted a link on his facebook to MotoForJapan, a fundraiser set up by industry members Greg Hatton and Jon Bekef to help the land that gave us Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha.  They are urging fellow industry members, pro and amateur riders, and motorcycling fans to donate.  The money will go to the American Red Cross.  Mad props to Greg and Jon, as well as to all the donors!
moto4japan
Logo designed by Sean Huqueriza

In case you were wondering about the particular area of the surfing photo in the last post, a fellow JET who lived in the area made a blog post about it.   In the comments, he mentions that the highway to Motoyoshi has been has reconnected.  Hopefully we get more good news like that in the future.

Listening to: “Caoineadh Cú Chulainn (Lament)” from Riverdance by Bill Whelan

You’ve all heard the news about the destruction the earthquake and tsunami has brought upon Japan.  I lived and taught in the Miyagi Prefecture for a year, and I even went to a surfing competition there.  The beach, located in Koizumi, is probably now filled with debris and corpses.

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I am disappointed to see a lack of support from the action sports community. Japan has given us several amazing action sports athletes: snowboarders Kazuhiro Kokubo (who must be going through a rollercoaster of emotions having just won the Burton U.S. Open this past weekend) and Soko Yamaoka, FMX rider Taka Higashino, motocross racer Sayaka Kaneshiro, freeskiier Ryo Shibasaki, and in-line skaters Eito and Takeshi Yasutoko.  It’s time we show our support for them and for a country that embraces action sports.  Please consider donating your money to the American Red Cross or another disaster relief organization.  I have compiled links at my Japanese pop culture blog: click to find the many ways you can help.

This is not to say the whole community has not responded to this tragedy..  Japanese surfer/triathlete and founder of Index Wetsuits Ikki Fujiwara has set up a fund. He has also revealed that Damien and C.J. Hobgood have shown their support. (The computer I’m on right now doesn’t support Japanese characters so I can’t try to figure out what the post says.)

Other athletes have used Twitter to either express their sympathies and/or get fans to donate to Red Cross. Here are just a selection of tweets.

  • Gretchen Bleiler – “Still can’t believe what happened in Japan. Let’s help them out~donate $10 to Japan relief just text REDCROSS to 90999”
  • Steve Caballero – “Japan had an earthquake leaving many without food & NOT ONE case of looting recorded, the world can learn sumthin from these awesome people!” – retweeted by Chad Kagy
  • Ronnie Faisst – “Wow! Praying for everyone in Japan! Hope all my homeboys and there families over there are safe!”
  • Taka Higashino – “Just got land LA from bonjour Japan is now crazy !!! So sad !!!!”
  • T.J. Schiller – “Oh my god – my prayers go out to everyone over there. Be safe!” – He also had a message in Japanese to Ryo Shibasaki and was retweeted by Justin Dorey.
  • Kelly Slater – “wavesforwater is going into action. Trying to find connections in Japan to help any way they can. If you have good info, please tweet them.”
  • Hannah Teter – “HELP JAPAN. I am. Text “Red Cross” to 90999 =$10 on bill, or donate here http://bit.ly/RedXJap Save The Children”
  • Shaun White – “My thoughts are with the people of Japan today. I hope all my friends are safe. Contact me when you can please! – http://say.ly/LPSbpM”

Listening to: “Hanamizuki” by Yo Hitoto