by Agueda Pacheco Flores
Danielle Jackson has revived a project she dreamed up four years ago after witnessing a kid ride down Renton Avenue on a skateboard in the rain.
She was bewildered and thought, “There’s gotta be somewhere where our kids can go skate.” That’s when Jackson says she found Seattle’s Citywide Skatepark Plan, which pointed to sites across Seattle ripe for a skate park. The Rainier Beach Playfield was one of them, but for any project to take off, it had to be community-led.
At first, only a few people showed up to her meetings. It also so happened that they would come from far-off places like Spokane and even Canada. Today, after the pandemic forced a shift to online meetings, Jackson says she’s found larger support from the surrounding communities.
Her first community meeting on Jan. 19 was well attended with more than 10 breakout rooms for the “design game,” which encouraged participants to place specific markers like skate bowls, benches, and ramps on a map of the area where the skate park will be built.
“I had never done anything like that before, but it was pretty cool,” Jackson said, adding that the purpose behind the design game was for the community to use their imagination and dream big.
Rainier Beach Playfield is surrounded by schools such as Dunlap Elementary and Rainier Beach High School. The site is also near the library and the community center, which Jackson says makes it a perfect spot for a multiuse skate park catered to kids, families, and youth.
“If we are going to put a skate park, let’s make some use of it,” she says. “Not just for the community, but for the schools to go outside of their walls.”
Jackson, who founded the youth organization Changing Habits And Motivating Personal Self-Esteem Resource Center (C.H.A.M.P.S.), is a community organizer. She has her hands in efforts across the South End, including organizing the annual Halloween Boo Bash. Her skate park project comes at a time when Seattle is having a skate park renaissance. Two skate parks, one in South Park and the other at Seattle Center, were recently remodeled and opened to the public last summer.
So far, Jackson says she needs to raise a little more than $2 million for the park, which will range between 13 and 15 thousand square feet. She’s teamed up with Parents for Skateparks and has tapped the local Skate Like A Girl organization for help.
Her next online community meetings will be in April. The design game public outreach approach also includes a prize drawing. Participants have a chance to win gift cards donated by Sausage Skateboards and Black Market Skates.
For more information about the Rainier Beach Skatepark, visit the website at rbskatepark.org.
Agueda Pacheco Flores is a journalist focusing on Latinx culture and Mexican American identity. Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Pacheco Flores is inspired by her own bicultural upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and proud Washingtonian.
📸 Featured Image: Draft of proposed site of the future Rainier Beach Skatepark. Image courtesy of Rainier Beach Skatepark.
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