Longboarding for Peace
Photos by Thomas Winter
Longboarding for Peace is paving the way for longboarders and skaters everywhere to do great things. Michael Brooke, publisher of Concrete Wave magazine and pioneer of the Longboarding for Peace movement, is demonstrating that the impact is phenomenal when people come together. Utilizing longboarders everywhere along with renowned artist, Rachel Tribble, Brooke's global movement is focusing on bringing peace, balance, and justice to the world - with longboards. I spoke with Michael via phone about his journey and the Longboarding for Peace movement.
How did you initially become involved in skateboarding?
I've been skating since I was age 11. I'm almost 4 decades deep into it. Basically, it's a thing I stayed with. I jumped on a board, thought I was going to fall off. I didn't, and I just kept doing it. I kept progressing. So it was something I started and never let go of. And it was the only thing I could do reasonably well- I guess I was failing at everything else!
What do you feel is the greatest appeal of skateboarding?
I love the freedom of it. You don't need a lift ticket, you don't need snow or waves- you just open your door and go. It just translated to so much freedom and it's kind of what I've always been inspired by. Skateboarding has never let me down.
When did you begin Concrete Wave magazine?
Concrete Wave grew out of a magazine I first co-published called International Longboarder. I did International Longboarder until 2002 and launched Concrete Wave shortly after. Prior to all this, I had written a book on skateboarding called Concrete Wave. The book sold over 45,000 copies and once the book came out, I thought to launch the magazine.
You were already hugely involved in the skateboard/longboarding community. When did you decide to start the Longboarding for Peace campaign?
In the early spring of 2012, I told my wife that if we were going to go on vacation, I didn't want to be a tourist - I wanted to do something. I organized a program that would allow me to visit places, such as Palestine and the Middle East, and let me teach longboarding. My advertisers helped me gather longboards and safety gear to take to the Middle East. We had people of various backgrounds skating together. And from there, it just took off- we're now in 30 countries!
What impact has Longboarding for Peace had so far?
It's important to note that Longboarding for Peace is not a charity or a non-profit; It's a movement. It's a global movement of peace, balance, and justice powered by longboarders. What started in the Middle East, which might seem like the most counter-intuitive place to start a peace movement, has now spread around the world. We've also been doing gun buy-backs. In San Pedro we take automatic weapons off the street by trading them in for longboards for the local law enforcement. October is also boarders giving blood month, so we're encouraging every single longboarder from every country in the world to give blood.
Can you tell me how artist Rachel Tribble become involved in the movement?v
I was watching a documentary, and in this documentary was a guy named Joel that really intrigued me. Eventually, we started a correspondence and a month and a half ago, he told me he had an artist friend named Rachel Tribble who wanted to do a project with the skate world. I looked at her art and was incredibly impressed by the quality of the work. She's an established artist in her own right and I wanted to work with someone at that level. Her art also has a remarkably soothing, meditative quality, which works perfectly with the message we're working to get out to the public.
I told Rachel how I wanted to take art and put it on longboards to tell the story of the wrongfully convicted. If someone is behind bars for a crime they did not commit, that's just an injustice. This idea just resonated with Rachel and the project eventually came to be. I want people to be aware of these issues and the people spreading the message. Rachel's art will help us take this message to a much wider audience.
So, what does the future hold for Longboarding for Peace?
I'm sensing that this movement will continue to grow. If you love longboarding and skateboarding and you want to be involved, [the movement] is there for you. The movement will continue to trigger people into doing great things. As it expands, it'll morph and change. It will connect and bring people together. I want to take the next 5-8 years and build these amazing programs, and show people what can be done. This is a movement that is actually producing results and changing things. I want to bring peace, balance, and justice to the world - with an army of peace.
What began as just an idea for Michael Brooke has blossomed and grown into the global force it is today. And, as Michael explains, it's just begun.
Longboarding for peace is doing great things for the world and is here to stay!
For more information on Longboarding for Peace visit: www.facebook.com/Longboard4Peace
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