Skateboarding, Systems Change, and The Power of Play
Feb 02, 2023
Taylor Woodruff
Skateboarding, Systems Change, and The Power of Play

Riding a skateboard in downtown Tacoma was an illegal activity for nearly 2 decades from the 1990's until 2011 when Alchemy co-founder Ben Warner worked with city council members to decriminalize skateboarding. This seemingly small adjustment to public policy was a catalyst that launched Alchemy Skateboarding, a 501-c3 non-profit serving youth in Tacoma and greater Pierce County. Current Alchemy Executive Director Taylor Woodruff supported the 2011 Go Skate Tacoma Celebration and has witnessed over the past decade the profound changes associated with de-stigmatizing skateboarding.

Serving in various roles at Alchemy over the years, Taylor has created and delivered various youth skateboard programs - both in and out of school - as well as developing relationships within the city, the parks department, and the Tacoma Public Schools system. The skateboard advocacy work has resulted in several credit-bearing skateboard classes offered in partnership with local schools, a small indoor skate park that serves a wide region of skateboarders due to a lack of indoor or covered skateboard facilities across the state, and programing that serves court connected youth through a partnership with the Pierce County Juvenile Court.  

Taylor will be sharing with the group how the power of play, something skateboarders have harnessed for decades, is being used to forge unlikely partnerships, strengthen communities, and create opportunities for young people to learn and grow through skateboarding.