Book for women pens about the history of skateboarding in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, MI – Valerie Le was riding her skateboard around the University of Michigan campus one day when she realized she should explore the history of skating in Ann Arbor.

“I’ve always been drawn to how cool it looks. But I really wanted to do real tricks and pursue a hobby that was both artistic and athletic, ”said Le, a 21-year-old UM senior who studied art, design and communication. “I didn’t really get into skating until this summer when I became more interested in exploring skateboarding culture, and I’ve met a few more people who skate and it really grew on me.”

Le has summarized her research on Ann Arbor’s skate history in her book, Skating Tree Town, and combined it with the experiences of current local skaters and personalities like Dug Song and Trevor Staples who helped set up the Ann Arbor Skatepark. In her interviews, Le noted notable differences in skate culture from the 1980s to the present day.

“In the 80s and 90s it was more of a punk thing. It wasn’t that cool and it was definitely very homogeneous in terms of its diversity. Skateboarding in Ann Arbor was very popular in the late 80s and 90s, there were a few different ramps and (do-it-yourself) parks in the area, ”said Le. “At some point around the turn of the 1990s and 2000s, Ann Arbor was apparently hostile to young skaters. There were a couple of police orders. “

Song compiled nearly 1,000 citations in the early 2000s from violations of Article VIII of the University of Michigan Skateboards, Roller Blades, Roller Skates Ordinance, which bans these activities in certain areas of campus.

But after interviewing college skaters, Le noted that the culture diversified through the inclusion of women and color communities, adding that skating can sometimes feel intimidating to women, but it encourages them to “keep pushing”.

“It’s not about how many tricks you can do. It’s really about expressing yourself and doing this activity that a lot of people love, ”said Le.

To encourage more women to skate, proceeds from her book will go to All Girls Skate, a program through Ann Arbor Skatepark that offers classes to young women skaters, Le said.

“It allows girls to be part of a skate community without being intimidated by the skate environment, which is still definitely dominated by white men, especially as beginners,” said Le.

But overall, Ann Arbor has a more community feel, and the surrounding skaters will approach others with open arms, added Le, who loves to skate over downtown Ann Arbor behind the library, Michigan Union, and skate park.

“I’ve really only just started exploring this year … but it’s very, very welcoming. You can start a conversation. They want to skate with you and give you some tips, ”Le said.

The book is available for $ 22 on their website.

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