Last July I wrote a Reader cover story, “Welcome to the skate park,” about OnWord, “a local skate crew that welcomes skaters of all ages and all abilities, prioritizing women, trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people, and anyone else who identifies as LGBTQ+.” As a queer beginner skater, I fit their target demographic, but even as my story appeared on stands, I hadn’t yet summoned the courage to attend one of their events.
In August—guess what, everyone? I signed up for OnSite 2.0, the second annual weekend-long event where skaters came together to build and design a DIY skatepark. On a blisteringly hot Saturday, I took the bus to Work 26, a community arts hub in Little Village, where I met a group of timid queers. Most of them were first-timers who had come alone, too, and almost all of us were beginners who’d picked up skating as a pandemic hobby. Sheepish in our paper name tags, nobody wanted to be the first to step on a board.
During the first five-hour day, “Learn + Build,” those of us new to power tools were taught how to safely use them, and we split into groups to connect the pre-cut parts of different mini-ramps and rails. On the second day, “Skate Jam,” we finished our projects, competed in novice-level skate contests, and helped each other practice clumsy ollies and drop-ins for the first time. We ate local tamales, and almost everyone won a prize from a contest or raffle. I even made friends—as an adult!
It was a scrappy setup, with our homemade fixtures weighed down by sandbags on an uneven floor, but before it was packed up for later use, I’m sure it was still the best DIY mobile park in the city.
OnWord Skate Collective
Information about future events is available at OnWord’s Instagram (instagram.com/onwordskateco); OnWord is also collecting donations for future projects at GoFundMe (gofundme.com/f/help-fund-our-skate-collective)
Best of Chicago: Sports & Recreation
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