Picture this, cows and fields of corn as far as the eye can see. In the middle of all that, concrete parks, vert ramps, and street spots. I started skating as a teen in a thriving skateboarding community. It was 2009, Marisa Dal Santo and Elissa Steamer were in Strange World. For a 12 years-old queer in the countryside of France, it was a beacon of hope. But even in a skate city, there were few alike to skate with. Fast forward 12 years later, for better or worse mostly better, let’s be real—things are shifting. The unwavering sense of community is expanding, letting skaters who never really fitted the mould be a part of this big collective. But this inclusive, global, community wouldn’t grow without rooting itself in local scenes, with the ones reshaping the mould.
Now picture this, vacant lots and red-brick residential duplexes. In the middle of all that, a crusty parking lot, three random prefabs, old concrete hubbas, and a little too many jersey barriers. It’s Fall 2021, Planche is wrapping up an unforgettable first season of skate meet-ups. Vets and rookies together, the girls, gays, theys and allies are sending it, bringing good vibes and unconditional love to an otherwise grim, dull place. The jam showed the essence of skateboarding, bringing strangers together and turning the most lifeless place into a warm, home-like space.
Fostering a community space is no small job. That being said, it’s also never a solo job. Rather, a community is built through the collective experience. When Planche Collective started in May 2021, it was a handful of people. As more joined, we added gear exchange for the ones without complete sets. We offered art supplies to revamp the beat up boards. We teamed up with a local who refurbishes broken decks. It’s all to build a space better accommodating everyones’ needs, continuing in the steps of our forebearers, Daisys Angels and Les Vagabonnes.
Recently, someone said to me, “It’s amazing that you can participate so actively in the Montreal scene.” Here’s the thing though, regardless of who you are, of your skill level—ain’t no trick flip in my bag yet—you can be there for your community. It’s always a journey of failure and success and no one expects perfection. Sometimes progress was hard to see, it felt like we were hitting slumps. But relying on the friends and the locals for help has been the key to cultivating a caring space. Afterall, the Planche jam would have had no giveaways, no music, no food, no video, above all, no vibe if it wasn’t for every single person that believed in the space, in the collective.
Words by Emanuele Barbier
Video by Ross Leblanc