AN ODE TO JUNK SPOTS


They’re different from the quasi-renegade concrete pours on underused parcels of land that we call DIY parks. They’re different from modular parks too, those overpriced-and-picked-from-a-catalog money grabs that so many municipalities fall victim to purchasing. 

No, junk spots fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes. They’re flexible like modular spots are supposed to be, but you don’t need a forklift to reconfigure the layout. Like a DIY, but unlike many typical skateparks, junk spots tend to be non-linear, inviting swooping circles and figure-eight lines, remaining open to the whims of the skater.

Junk spots are like the little free libraries that are popping up in neighbourhoods all over: you never know what you’ll find, but it’s always worth stopping by. Something new shows up, something old disappears. It’s a circle of skate terrain.

Typically, junk spots suffer from a short life-expectancy, given their make-up of wooden boxes that go soggy and flatbars that get jacked to be sold as scrap metal. Most importantly, what junk spots offer is a certain degree of freedom: you won’t typically run into little kids, bikers, ‘bladers, or scooters. Junk spots are uninviting to parents as well as the youthful and unconfident, given their slummy and secluded locales. 

While they’re a vision of freedom to skaters, junk spots are rather unappealing visually to non-skaters, like a pair of Half-Cabs. That unsavouriness means they’re often a mess, but they’re your mess; they’re our mess. You’re inclined to do your part in keeping it clean, because if not you, then who? 

Foundations tend to make the best junk spots, given their relative smoothness and sometimes existing terrain to build off. Foundation spots tend to be flexible too, inviting new configurations while offering ample space to just flow and figure it out, most notably demonstrated by Jason Dill in his seminal Mosaic part

Abandoned indoor garages and body shops work well too, acting as sheltered skateboard-squat-spots to keep you rolling through winter. Wherever you are, keep an eye out for those forgotten corners of your town where you can build what you what, skate what you want, and do what you want. Here’s to junk spots! —Jeff Thorburn

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