When you think of fun activities to keep you moving that have a great sense of community, you may not initially think of skateboarding. Whether it’s because you’ve never tried skating before, you don’t know where to start or maybe you never thought that someone like you would have the chance to try, it’s time to rethink that.
While the skateboarding scene never really left, it seems it may be growing in popularity again today, and people like Tayler Krabbenhoft are making sure there is room for everyone in this growth.
“I started skating when I was a young girl, but there really wasn’t a community for me as an eight-year-old girl skateboarding,” she said. “I’d go to the skate park and it was a bunch of teenage boys and adult men, and I just really didn’t have a place to make friends or have anyone to encourage me to keep up with it. So, I gave it up pretty early on.”
Later in her life, Tayler would get back into skating, but not until she saw organizations like SKATE LIKE A GIRL not only encourage women and transgender people to skate but create safe spaces for them to do so—something rarely found in any given community’s skatepark.
SKATE LIKE A GIRL is an organization whose mission is to “create an inclusive community by promoting confidence, leadership and social justice through skateboarding.” They aim to “empower skaters, especially young women and/or trans people, to grow into strong, confident leaders who promote and implement social equity.”
Through various programming and organized events, SKATE LIKE A GIRL provides opportunities for their community to live out the mission and vision of the non-profit.
Seeing an influx of girls skating online, Tayler was inspired to not only skate again but to kick-start something similar to the FM community.
“I started skating again because I would see stuff like that on Instagram. I [would think], ‘I would really love to attend something like that here,’ when it didn’t exist. I was just trying to make it exist anyway I could,” she said.
She began with one-off skateboarding meetups at the Dike West Park & Skate Park by the Red River in Fargo. She also brought in skate ramps and invited local bands to play around the back entrance of the Red Raven Espresso Parlor to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
The Hawks Nest is a privately owned indoor skateboarding park located in Fargo. They have two skate nights available, the Monday night meetups for women and members of the LBGTQ+ community, hosted by Tayler, and Wednesday nights, open to the public!
One night, she brought up the idea of hosting a Girls and LGBTQ+ Skate Night to Tom Kemmer, the owner of the Hawks Nest. Tayler began hosting those nights every month last May, which turned into every other week. Eventually, Tayler received a key to the indoor skate park so she could open the space up herself to host the event, and since August, the meet-ups have been happening every Monday night.
Monday nights are filled with support. While the evening is not specifically for beginner skateboarders, it just so happened that a lot of its attendees are. Partly due to the nature of the inclusivity surrounding the meetups, people stay conscious of that, making sure to make room, both physically and metaphorically, for everyone to skate comfortably.
Designed by Katey Wold
“We have a lot of young girls, between 8 and 13, who show up. We have a lot of teen girls show up. There are some moms who sometimes come with their kids,” Tayler said. “It’s just a chance for people to learn. Generally, women and trans people didn’t have the same opportunities skateboarding that cisgender men did, but the culture is changing every day, not just here.”
The Girls & LGBTQ+ Monday Night Meetups are from 6 to 9 p.m. They are open to women and anyone in that community of any age. There is a $10 entry fee (cash or Venmo), but if you cannot meet that fee you can talk to Tayler to work something out. There is a safety waiver that you or, if you’re under 18 years old, your guardian has to sign.
There is a wide variety of attendance on Monday nights and an equal variety of what people do when they come. There is a dartboard, chess, checkers and video games in the upstairs loft, as well as a room to hang out and watch others skate. Those who come are welcome to participate in anything, not just expected to skateboard.
Since the Hawks Nest is the only indoor skate park in the city, and the only one in the state to Tayler’s knowledge, a night like this was in high demand. There are only two open skate nights at the Hawks Nest, the other being on Wednesday nights, three hours each.
Meaning there are only six hours available at the only indoor skatepark open for the public, in a state where outdoor skating isn’t always possible due to weather for many months of the year.
“If you come to the Wednesday open skates, they’re super busy. This is a small space, and it’s hard to learn in that kind of environment,” Tayler said. “So, even though it’s not necessarily for beginners only on Monday nights, it’s a more chill space to learn. We all kind of remember what it feels like coming into the skatepark for the first time.”
On Instagram, Tayler has posted a further explanation of how they are trying to keep Monday nights inclusive, by being exclusive to the girls and LGBTQ+ communities.
“There have been some people that take advantage of the fact that it’s a place to skateboard when there are not many places to skateboard at the time. So, I have to say something about that,” Tayler explained. “No, it’s not my place to question anyone’s identity, it’s completely run on an honor system. But I think everyone, not just cis men, needs to acknowledge the space they take up and look around for others and give beginners time to learn.”
While there are no organized lessons on Monday nights, there are people willing to teach you if you attend. They also bring extra skateboards for anyone who needs it!
Sleep Talk Skate
Around the same time that Tayler started organizing the meetups, she also started looking into the programs offered by SKATE LIKE A GIRL. She would eventually apply for the Skateboard Inclusivity Cooperative (SIC) and start her own skate group called Sleep Talk Skate.
SIC is a leadership program for those who identify as queer, trans and/ or women who are spearheading local skateboarding communities around the country. The program offers an abundance of resources to take their skateboarding group or project to the next level, learn team building and teaching skills to create sustainable skating environments, gain skill in and experience networking opportunities with peers and ultimately grow and continue to serve their community’s project/ organization.
Before SIC, Tayler wanted to put a name and an entity behind the meetups at the Dike, Red Raven and eventually the Hawks Nest, and with that, Sleep Talk Skate was born. Eventually, she brought on a friend, Katey, to run ideas by and help with some of the creative processes, like designing posters and any special events they would host.
Tayler first got involved with SKATE LIKE A GIRL last year, joining the organization’s Slack group, where she found resources like Zoom workshops. Joining that group and utilizing those resources inspired her to do more. After a variety of scholarship wins taking her to California for the YMCA Skate Camp Sequoia Lake last August and to Seattle for Wheels of Fortune in September, Tayler and her skate group applied for the SIC program.
Last month, they hosted a Women &/or Trans Group Skate Lesson. Keep an eye out on Instagram @sleeptalkskate for more events in the future!
Sleep Talk Skate was chosen to be one of six skate groups from across the country to be part of the SIC program. For the next seven months, this program will support the chosen skate groups by providing funding, mentorship and more to get their community-based project off the ground. That program just began this January.
One of the unique things about the SIC program is that it supports the skate groups by making them independent. As said, skate groups in the SIC program know what their communities need and what the best way to deliver that is.
“I’m still my own individual. They are seeing people doing things in their own communities and want to give them the tools to help them do more,” Tayler said. “So, they’re giving me access to their legal people and their accountant, they’re teaching me how [I] should budget out for [my] year, how many boards [I’m] going to need. If [I’m] doing a group lesson, [what] kind of programming for kids camp or adults camp… whatever I want to do, they’re just there to help me.”
For orientation into the SIC program, the group gets flown out to Seattle to participate in workshops, meet other group leaders, meet with their personal mentors and more. Through planning this trip, Tayler asked Amara to join on the SIC orientation trip, a dedicated Monday night attendee who also helps hand out waivers, guides new people through the facility, helps to teach beginner skaters, captures photos and videos for the group’s social media and more.
With the three of them working together, along with the guidance of the SKATE LIKE A GIRL SIC program, the Sleep Talk Skate group has a bright future ahead for the local women and trans skateboarding community. They have still yet to determine their status as either a registered nonprofit or LLC business, both of which are good options to operate. Tayler will continue to look to her resources and her personal mentor from the SIC program to work out those details.
“We’re in the ‘figuring things out’ stage right now, like the starting of the mentorship. Lots of things are getting worked out because I really wasn’t even planning on doing any of this, [but] opportunities just keep presenting themselves so I’m taking them and seeing what happens,” Tayler said.
The Sleep Talk Skate group is planning more community events for all ages and abilities for the upcoming months and will continue to host Monday night meetups at the Hawks Nest. Tayler hopes to mesh music, art, food and skating into some fun events this summer, and a women’s and trans group lesson this month.
Because of Tayler and the Sleep Talk Skate group’s work, the group will have opportunities to grow and create a sustainable community for queer, trans and/or women skaters.
How SIC Works to Help Achieve That:
- Program runs Nov – May
- Five 90-minute virtual workshops
- Bi-weekly organization checkins with SIC Program Manager
- Monthly one-on-one check-ins with Mentor
- Access to digital community of peers & other leaders
- Receive up to $4,000 stipend to support personnel, activities and gear
- In-person orientation in Portland, OR to start off program!
(Information from skatelikeagirl.com)
To follow along on Tayler and the group’s journey and to keep an eye on what’s to come, follow the Sleep Talk Skate Instagram page @sleeptalkskate
You can attend the Girls & LGBTQ+ Monday Night Meetups at the Hawks Nest on Monday nights, from 6 to 9 p.m. at 302 39th St NW, Unit B, Fargo!