For my video assignment, I visited Duncan Creek Skate Park. I spent hours observing the actions and ambient sounds of the area in order to capture its sense of place. I created this video to detail my experiences at the skate park, and I wrote a follow-up response paper to further explain how these experiences have affected my experience with and ideas for journalism. While at the skate park, I noticed a distinct difference between what went on in the park during the day and what went on at night. During the day, the park was mostly empty with only a few young children, who were usually accompanied by an adult; during the night, however, the park was more crowded and older kids, who were most likely teenagers, dominated the skate rinks. As a result, the main sounds that I heard during the daytime came from the wind and passing cars, while at night, the sounds in the skating rink were filled with yelling and talking. I found this distinction extremely interesting, and I based the narrative for my video on the different images and ambient sounds that I captured during these two sections of the day.
When visiting Duncan Creek Skatepark, the blurs of moving figures rushing past me caught my attention first. Looking around more, I saw the curves of the ramps and turns, which contrasted straighter shapes, such as launch ramps. These geometric shapes made the rink diverse and fun for the skaters to try out different tricks. Tall, bright lights illuminated the rink to make it safe for the teenagers as they skated in the dark of night. Surrounding the skating rinks were benches, where a few adults sat watching. However, the rink was filled with mostly teenagers and their friends. The sound in the rink was predominantly composed of rough, uneven, whizzing noises of the skateboards sliding against the rink, but it was also filled with cheers from friends after one of the skaters successfully completed a difficult move. I could smell the secondhand smoke of those that were smoking at the park, and I could also almost taste the ashy texture of this smoke in my mouth as it reached me.
When I arrived at the skatepark one night, these qualities were all apparent, but I was surprised by something that I hadn’t yet seen before. The fact that eight of the 13 people there were not wearing any helmets, arm and knee pads or other protective gear shocked and worried me. However, this did not seem to stop them from attempting risky skate tricks. One skater zoomed around the outskirts of the rink and attempted to jump off his skateboard, while it flipped beneath him, intending to land on it and continue skating. Unfortunately, he did not jump high enough and thus, did not have enough time in the air for the skateboard to flip, ultimately causing him to fall on his back. I was surprised and nervous, but he immediately got back up and started laughing at his mistake.
By visiting Duncan Creek Skatepark, I experienced a new part of the community that I may not have experienced otherwise. I had driven past this park many times on my way to my high school each morning in previous years, but I had never stopped and taken the time to watch what went on there. I learned that many people are risk-takers and daredevils, and there are many distinct personalities in my community that I had not gotten to know yet. For instance, I unexpectedly ran into a friend I had known through marching band while I was in high school. I found out that he was an experienced skateboarder – a fact that I had not known about him prior to coming to the skatepark. This fact added a new facet to his personality that I may not have realized otherwise. I also began to catch on to some of the skateboarding lingo by hearing the conversations between skaters that went on around me – “bank” and “carve,” for example, were used by the skaters many times that night to describe specific skateboarding tricks and methods of movement.
These experiences also taught me that instead of following my usual, daily routines, it is important I get out of my comfort zone and get to know new people in order to garner new perspectives that could positively impact my reporting and writing abilities. For example, there are many story opportunities, especially for feature articles, that are related to skateparks. I could find story opportunities, then, just by stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying out new experiences. I could also interview individuals who are unlike me in terms of personality in order to gain new opinions in my reporting that I may not have gotten otherwise, adding to the credibility and whole-roundedness of my stories.
For instance, related story ideas might include a profile on one of the skaters, detailing how he initially got into the activity, which competitions he has competed in and what a typical day at Duncan Creek Skatepark is like for him. Similarly, a feature on extreme sports and daredevils could outline why people take the physical risks associated with sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding and mountain biking. On the other hand, a narrower, more focused story could hone in on solely skateboarding culture. Each of these stories would be an opportunity for me to further learn about the atmosphere and culture of the skate park while growing as both a reporter and a writer.