Was going to write something yesterday, but was too overwhelmed once the news broke + everyone caught wind of it on social channels first.
At around 4 P.M. yesterday, Manhattan Parks Commissioner, William Castro (who actually funded the ramps at the 1989 Shut contest at Tompkins), reached out to say that the Parks Department will NOT be installing turf over the asphalt at the northeast corner of Tompkins Square Park A.K.A. the T.F.
We all low-key couldn’t believe this too-good-to-be-true news. Then, Patch — the same source from which we learned the park was getting turfed in the first place — got a statement from Parks spokesperson, Crystal Howard: “Tompkins Square Park has served as the epicenter of NYC skateboard culture for decades, as such, we have decided to leave the area previously proposed for synthetic in the park as is, and will not move forward with creating a synthetic turf area there.”
Thank you to Commissioner Castro and his team.
Thank you councilwoman Carlina Rivera for her support.
Thank you to Zhu for starting the petition and being a face of the cause in the news.
Thank you to Steve R. for being point person between the skaters and Parks.
Thank you to all the news outlets that covered the #savetompkins effort and had our backs.
Thank you to all the companies that reached out and helped spread the word.
And thank you to all of you who signed and shared the petition + were ready to rally for the cause. We found out the plan was called off in the 11th hour. We will all still be there today, but it is no longer a rally in as much as it is a celebration of this tiny, irreplaceable corner of New York, which has served as a home for skateboarding and a place of solace for many young people from the neighborhood over generations. Please be respectful, and please throw out your trash ;)
When the news first broke that Tompkins might be taken away, an overarching feeling among us all was, “Out of all the crazy shit going on in the world worth mobilizing against, how is EVEN THIS turning into a fight?” The park is certainly worth fighting for, but 2019 obviously has no shortage of worthy causes to put energy towards. It is a place to skate, yes, but these sorts of multi-use, open-ended spaces are rare in a constantly changing New York. It is a place where skateboarding found a home when there weren’t sanctioned places to skate, and intermingled with all walks of public life in the city: the drifters, the weirdos, the lurkers, the unicyclists, the woman who has been doing tai chi there for 200 years, the guy in the big giant steel ring.
At the end of the day, there is value in public space that is not sliced up by designations of who can be where at what time, at all times. Tompkins has been a de-facto community center for us all through good times and bad, and we are overjoyed with the fact that it will be there, in the same open-ended, multi-use way for generations to come.
And while a skate spot may only be a speck on the [melting] iceberg of shit worth fighting for as we approach the 2020s, we hope that this could serve as a tiny microcosmic example that YOUR VOICE MATTERS. All you need to do it voice it. You are a young person / voter / activist, and together we can literally do anything we want if we fight for it in mass.
Let this serve as an example that you CAN fight City Hall, and if you can fight City Hall, you can fight the state legislature, Senate, Congress, whatever. Anybody telling you that you can’t and asking “what difference will it make?” is a fucking bum.
If you’re over the age of 18, don’t show up to Tompkins again unless you’re registered to vote.
P.S. I’m never buying anyone who told me to “just let it go” a drink ever again, for the rest of my life ;)