The first time I heard about Alec Young’s Seed Fund project, I was amazed. Undertaking the planning and construction of a Skate Park during the limited time that we have abroad is no small feat, and to be honest, as a member of the next round of interns I was a bit intimidated. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the development and implementation of the project I can say that it is undoubtedly a lesson in successful community engagement.
Having noticed the serious lack of public park space in Los Cabos, but finding this issue very broad given the time frame, Alec focused his Seed Fund idea on advocating for a skate park in Cabo San Lucas. As it stood, skateboarders could only practice around the city, following the unofficial rule that “if your city doesn’t have a skate park, your city is a skate park”. Skateboard culture is big in the area and the community is well-established but there are hardly any suitable and safe places available so the need for a project like this was substantial.
The necessary first step to addressing these problems was to conduct an analysis on how many skateboarders are in Cabo San Lucas and determine what type of skate park would be needed. Alec estimated that there are more than 3000 casual skaters and over 850 core skaters, but these numbers are very conservative and the actual size of the community is thought to be even larger. In addition, based on the total population of Cabo San Lucas, the city could support 2 large regional skate parks, 4 moderately-sized neighbourhood skate parks, or 8 smaller skate spots. That makes up a fairly significant portion of the population being underserved and a lot of potential to meet their needs. But of course, there’s no way that Alec could do it alone.
Enter Eugenio Sandoval, Josue Garcia Cota, and Javier Tirado. Eugenio, an architect by profession, is an avid skater and has previous experience designing skate parks. Josue – a local “skate prophet” – is a huge role model in the community and is involved with anything related to skateboarding in the area. Javier Tirado owns Makus Skate Shop, which acts as a sort of community center for the Los Cabos skateboarders. The three showed immediate support for Alec’s idea as they had been trying to get a skate park built in Cabo San Lucas for decades, and it didn’t take long from there until the rest of the skateboarding community rallied around the project.
It started with a few skaters. The plans for a half-pipe were made, the location was set in one of the already established municipally-owned public parks, and Alec and Josue were out in the arroyos shovelling gravel and sand for cement. After a couple of sessions with just the two of them, wondering if they would ever be able to finish at the pace they were going, 8 more young skateboarders showed up to help chock-full of what I would call an unwarranted amount of enthusiasm over doing rigorous manual labour under the hot Los Cabos sun. To me, that alone proves how important the project was, but I digress. At the site, the work crew was growing as more and more people stopped by to lend a hand. Neighbours supplied water and electricity for tools, and one night the family of one of the skaters came by and completely removed an old swing set without anyone asking or even knowing about it beforehand. The momentum grew so much that IMPLAN, the host organization for the Los Cabos interns, expressed interest in the possible future integration of CODEPA Park into some of their planned projects.
Unfortunately, Alec couldn’t be present for the completion of the half-pipe because his time in Los Cabos came to an end. Just before he left, Makus Skate Shop held their 4th Year Anniversary Competition where Javier introduced the project – and Alec – to a round of applause and an overwhelming amount of appreciation for both the work they had already done and the work they were still planning to do. From the initial conceptualization to the last day of work before Alec left, the CODEPA Skate Park is an amazing example of what is possible when a community rallies behind a project. The level of engagement, along with the passion and commitment of Alec, Eugenio, Josue, and Javier, is inspiring and shows how successful a project can be with active public participation. As a new intern in Los Cabos, I look forward to the opportunity to put what I’ve learned from Alec’s project into practice and congratulate him on such great work!
PROJECT UPDATE: Since Alec’s departure, the project team have been raising funds to finish building the half-pipe. A raffle, sponsored by Javier and the Makus Skate Shop, was held and raised enough to finish filling the ramp with concrete, so the plan is to begin the next phase of construction at the end of this month. Eugenio is also hoping to present the project through a couple information sessions at a nearby hotel and to have an exhibition space at a local cycling event that occurs every Sunday. If possible, I will try to include updates on this project in a future blog post when the construction is complete, but for now check out the video that Alec recently created about the project and his experience working on it: