DIY SKATE PARK IN JORDAN
The Connectors Society went to Jordan to build an extension to 7 Hills Skate Park. 7Hills was crowdfunded and built in 2014 by the local community, international volunteers and Make Life Skate Life org. It's a 650 sqm concrete skatepark located at Samir Rifai Park in downtown Amman, Jordan. Location is strategic and accessible to both East and West parts of the city, working class neighborhoods and wealthy and international residencial areas. The park was given by the city, though they city wasn't involved in the planning of the space.
What we learned.
In terms of co-ownership and community involvement, it was great to see so many people helping out during the construction. Skaters at the park and local residents came over and helped out to mix and shovel concrete. It was interesting to see how the park developed beyond skateboarding and works as a cultural hub for street artist, dancers, musicians and integration.
The building of the extension took 2 weeks. The original plan of building a mini ramp took a shift when we arrived to Jordan into a bigger and more ambitious project of building a whole extension to the park. We learned how to level floor, how to place rebar and shape concrete. It was great to work without permits in a public space. It was great to see regular people making a park just because it's needed. It's not necessarily that the city fully trust citizens to change public space and it's probably more related to resources than citizen strategy but, not having the city involved made it possible for a group of people to create a park. What works in Amman might not work everywhere else but it's a great case of what could happen if cities work directly with residents to create public space.
7Hills run by Mohammed Zakaria organizes a program that brings children from Zaatari to 7Hills to take skateboarding lessons. 7hills and the coffee shop from across the street have an ongoing collaboration and they store the skateboards for the program. Mohammed became the middle man between the city and the community, he is also jury for an urban park competition launched by the city and a Jordanian bank to add more services to the 7hills like trashcans, toilets and lighting.
Photos by Julieta Talavera