Oakland’s Town Park DIY skatepark gets a concrete makeover — Beautiful new short documentary Skateboarding in Oakland shows how a skatepark can be a force for positive change.

“We grew up skating the most crappiest skatepark so we just adapted to hellish shit, like fat ass cracks at the top of the stair sets,” says Lem West, a skater from Oakland, California. “Oakland skaters got a way different style to skaters from all other parts of the world. Go big or go home really.”

Lem and his best friend Terrell Newell – who star in the awesome new short documentary Skateboarding in Oakland – grew up together skating the streets of West Oakland, a community with more than its fair share of problems. Lem was lucky to be left with just a flesh wound after being struck in the ankle by a stray bullet and both teenagers have friends who’ve been killed. Skateboarding is one of few positive outlets for young people in a neighbourhood viewed with wariness by outsiders, that, in Lem’s words, suffers from “lots of negativity.”

High school teacher and Oakland resident, Keith “K-Dub” Williams recognised the role skateboarding could play in improving the choices for local kids and in 2007 he began work on turning unused space in West Oakland’s DeFremery Park, which locals refer to as just ’Town Park’, into a skatepark.

“No city has any strength if the young people aren’t engaged,” he explains. “If you can build in front of them, for them, and also have them part of the process, then they can take ownership of what they have.”

Keith began by taking disused wooden ramps from a nearby YMCA skatepark and reassembling them in Town Park, taking rails off fences and building new obstacles with bits of wood. His DIY build was just the beginning, and Keith always hoped to one day create a concrete park but local kids flocked to what he’d built and the local skate community grew and became stronger.

When Levi’s Skateboarding heard about the project, they sent Al Partanen, Josh Matthews, Marius Sylvanen and Pat Moran to help transforming it into the proper concrete park that Keith had always hoped it would become.

The effect on local skaters has been huge and everyone involved hopes skateboarding will continue helping make the West Oakland community stronger. Lem is stoked: “I feel like skateboarding opens doors to a wonderful life.”

Huck visits Town Park for The Skateboarding Special, part two, coming this August. Stay locked!