Bretton Brulotte is a 14 year old Calgary skateboarder who recently started a Facebook petition for more skateparks in Calgary. To date it has over 1,700 members and is growing daily. Bretton was overweight until he lost 70 pounds in the two years since he started skating. We asked him some questions about himself and the petition he started:
Hi Bretton, how long have you been skating?
About 2 years technically but I really started going to parks and progressing last summer.
What got you into skateboarding?
The Mission that opened in Aspen, went in there one day just to check it out and started asking about getting into skating. The guy that worked there showed me Guy Mariano’s part from fully flared, the creativity and art that I saw in skating inspired me to start and I bought my first board soon after, it was a Mariano deck.
Why do you like it and keep doing it?
Everything about skating is awesome. Its the coolest art, sport and community you could imagine. Skateboarding keeps me active and getting exercise every day for multiple hours and I have met my best friends in skateboarding.
Are your parents supportive?
For sure, before I skated I would never get any physical activity and hated doing any sport. My parents used to put me on soccer teams that I hated. Skating gets me 3 or more hours of exercise a day and I’ve got some really good friends through it.
Where do you usually skate?
Westside in the summer– it’s small but it’s a safe place that my parents don’t hesitate to let me skate at. Having more supervised parks or even just good parks in more youth friendly parts of the city would be a good idea.
Where do you skate during the winter months?
In the winter Skate Church when I can get there, Millennium but my parents don’t really feel safe sending me there, and my garage.
What made you start a Facebook petition for skateparks in Calgary?
There was a lot of negative energy towards the city and I wanted to change that into passion to make a change. I wanted to show that there was need for parks and places for us to skate. At the end of the day i just wanted to do whatever I could for what I’m passionate about.
Why do you think Calgary is so far behind compared to other cities when it comes to skateparks?
Having the mountains so close is one factor, the city may not see need for amenities within the city with such natural beauty so close and don’t understand what a large part of our lives skateboarding is. Money is probably another, we are one of the wealthiest cities in the country and many people go to lakes and wake board or the mountains to ski or snowboard but skateboarding is a lifestyle and just isn’t substituted by other sports and is more accessible than others.
This posting is a little out of our normal mandate of Calgary content but it definitely on topic for the importance of skateboard parks. This video has been making its rounds on the web so you might have already seen it but if not it’s a good one. Tommy Carroll has been skating since he was ten, but has been blind since the age of two. He hits up his local park and makes his riding time count. Get inspired and shovel the snow off your favourite spot/park, find a parking garage, beg or buy your way into a garage mini sesh just get some skateboarding in any way you can. No excuses just skate!
Want more? Here is an interview and some more skateboarding by Tommy:
Artschool is a Calgary-based skateboard company. They are going into their 5th season. The company is highly art focused and strives to promote and progress art, artists and skateboarding in local Canadian communities.
Artschool was started like many other companies; on a napkin over a couple of beers. Read on to learn more:
Mark Kowalchuk and Jeff Talbot (both long time skateboarders) were discussing their growing 80s skateboard collections and how the modern skateboard art is more about the marketing and less about the art. Jeff made an off the cuff remark that they should start their own deck company with an oldschool feel. Mark was already lending his art to a few snowboard and skateboard companies so the idea was a perfect fit.
Jeff: We didn’t know where to get the wood pressed or how to promote a company. We didn’t have a team or even a company name yet, but somehow we had just started a skateboard company. Mark grabbed a napkin and the sharpie he always carries and started sketching out some ideas. I made a comment about the ET shirt he was wearing and that it might look cool to have Jesus peddling the bike and Buddha in the basket. Five minutes later we had our first graphic. Five day later Denis Lebel agreed to be on the team and thanks to Mark’s connections at SBC, they announced the start of Artschool Skateboards. We were then lucky enough to add 4 more riders to the team: Jeff Kent, Brad McCoy, Reuben Bullock and Ryan Hall. All this before a single skateboard was pressed.
7 yrs ago I was designing graphics on t-shirts calling them Artschool and working as an artist for snowboard companies.
Who is pressing AS now?
Jeff: it seemed like we here changing manufacturers every few months in the beginning. Its tough to get good service when you are pressing 1000 boards a season instead of 100 000. 2 years ago we were in a really tough spot with our supplier basically going out of business. I called every manufacturer in North America, I never thought Schmitt Stix would even answer the phone, they press most of the boards you see on every skate shop wall. They bailed us out of a tough spot, getting us our order in 2 weeks.
Mark: Schmitt Stix has been making boards since the beginning of skateboarding. They press a lot of big name brands that are known for the best quality.
Who is on the Team?
Mark: Our riders all come from Alberta. Half of our team now lives and skates in Vancouver. Denis Lebel, Jeff Kent, Brad McCoy, Steve Rohl, Ty Klassen, Ryan Hall, Reuban Bullock, Jeff Muirhead, Cam Lynch and Darcy Tran and Austin Jensen are on the flow team.
Jeff: Our Team Manager is Erica Jacobs. She is good at picking out the right fit for the team. We try to get riders with a positive attitude. Jay is our rep and has been helping us out a lot this year especially since he already has such great relationship with shops across Canada. Joey has been working on getting us more involved out east as well. People that want to try to grow and help the team and other skaters progress, we pretty much just look for people that we actually want to hang-out with.
What artists have worked with AS?
Jeff: For the first couple years Mark did all of the art, it is amazing the talent and ideas that come from that guys mind. He is very well respected within that community for good reason.
Mark: In season 3 we wanted to start using the company to promote more local Canadian artists. We have been lucky enough to have artists like Matel, Darren Camplin, TJ Schneider, Zema, Carl White, Dan Curtis and even Canadian pro skater Corey Sheppard.
I’ve noticed Mark your graphic this year is sick graphic you colab with Andres Friden, is that right?
Mark: Yeah sort of, I’m a huge fan of ‘In Flames’ a Swedish metal band and lead singer Anders Friden has been using me to do some shirt designs over the last year and he is a big fan of skating so we worked on my this years graphic together I painted the lyrics on the deck and he added the text. Recently I just finished a CD single album cover for them
Artschool has also worked with musician/ pro-snowboarder Trevor Andrew?
Mark: That’s right. Last year we did two different special release limited coffin cruiser decks for ‘Trouble Gang’, Trevor’s band. Trevor, besides being a pro snowboarder and musician, is an accomplished skater as well. We plan to work more with him in the future on some collab decks.
Jeff: Trevor has been a big supporter of Mark’s art and Artschool Skateboards. When I first saw him skate I was expecting him to be good, but he was the kind of good that makes you not want to miss the next trick. We should put him on the team!
What do you think of Skateboarding in 2013?
Jeff: I think some of the raddest things I could have ever imagined are happening in skateboarding today, I see the things that are being done on a skateboard right now and it all seems like a video game. But 2013 also kind of makes me mourn the “skateboarding subculture” that used to exist. In the 80’s (really the 80s? wtf) we used to fight with city councils just to get a place to put a few wood ramps, always hoping that someday that there would be as many skateparks as ball parks. We aren’t there yet, but now that this is starting to happen in some ways it has unavoidably backfired. More parks, means more skaters, means more corporate interest which is actually a great thing for furthering the sport and bringing money to events and helping skaters and skateboarding go to another level. But now we also have big corporations buying up all the companies and box stores pushing out the local core shops. There aren’t skateboarders running these corporations, so that translates into skateboarding not being run by skateboarders anymore.
Mark: As far as the scene and art of skating I think there is a full circle. I see veteran skaters popping up more and more. Companies re-issuing old graphics. Companies playing off old classic skate art. It seems like finally what made skating cool in the beginning is becoming cool again, which I think we always were about so for me that kinda makes me feel like we are on the right track.Or maybe we are totally off track but who cares its still fun to create stuff.
Where do you want AS to be?
Jeff: In the future we want to keep supporting the local skateboard scene and highlighting Canadian art and artists. Try to support Canadian skate community especially in the rural areas. And hopefully in the short term to work with CASE to get an indoor facility in Calgary. We want to keep being involved with the City of Calgary, we did a design-a-deck program last year through the city and likely will again, and keep sponsoring the skate camp. At the end of the day its just fun to be involved and we want to be as much as possible.
Mark: First skateboard company on the moon.
Jed Anderson is a born and raised Calgarian who happens to a bunch of things really well. He’s a talented skateboarder, but he’s also much more. Read on to learn a bit more about Jed.
How long have you been skating for?
I started skating when i was about 6 years old. I slowed down a little bit through junior high after Source Park had closed. I was kind of intimidated to go to Mills when I was younger. I eventually started going there a little bit. A little bit turned into everyday. It’s probably one of the most positive things that has happened. Everyone of my friends from Calgary I’ve met through that skatepark basically. It’s pretty crazy.
A lot of people who aren’t into snowboarding probably don’t know this but you’re pretty well-known in the snowboard world. Are you pro?
Haha. Yeah, I am a professional snowboarder. Skating is what got me into snowboarding. I started skating and it snowed so what else was I to do? Luckily enough my family had the resources that allowed me to make it out to the mountains and have gear and everything.
You must travel a lot for snowboarding. Do you do a lot of contests?
Nah I don’t really do contests any more. When I was younger I would enter them all the time. I used to really enjoy it. It was a great way to push my self during that time. Nowadays I just like to film video parts and push my self at spots.
Do you bring a skateboard on your snowboard trips?
Every trip I go on for snowboarding I always bring my skateboard. Even if we are in the most wintery of cities I always find some time to skate.
Who do you skate with? Where are your favourite places to skate?
I skate with bunch of people in Calgary. Bacon, Dustin Henry, Kevin Lowry, Thorburn, Tre, Ben Blundell, Tyler Warren, Drew Merriman, Andy Lockhart, Luke Gonis, Tristan Henry, Dave Livingston, Coulten, Bobby Lee, Mike Able, Dan Morales, etc. Anyone who’s at the park that day ahha.
Favorite places to skate… Mills, downtown Calgary, any mini ramps or bowls, New York City, Portland Oregon, any city, any shitty skate park, any good skatepark, any skatepark, any cement, anywhere.
Name your sponsors:
The Source, Indy flow, Krooked flow.
What video parts are you most proud of? (skate and snow)
I havent really had a skateboard video that I am proud of yet. Hopefully this year. snowboard wise im probably most proud of my most recent part called In Full. I still don’t have any part that I am too pleased with yet though.
Who are your snow sponsors?
Nike, Salomon Snowboards, Protec, Ashbury, Stance, The Source.
Who did/do you look up to?
I’ve always admired my friends and family. They will always be the people I look up to the most. In skating there’s a huge list.
When i first started it was everyone on the Shorty’s team. I had Fulfill the Dream and would watch that over and over again. I also had Transworld’s video Interface. After those videos I got my hands on Real to Real. This was the first time I saw Mark Gonzales. I always remember thinking his part was different. But it wasn’t until I got a little bit older that he became one of my all time favorites (of course). Nowadays I am into all sorts of skateboarders. To name a few…. Andrew Allen, Andrew Reynolds, Omar Salazar, Shawn Powers, Arron Harrington, Nolan Johnson, Logan Lara, Van Wastell, Tony T, Jason Dill, AVE, Jake Johnson, Mike Carroll, Alex Olson, etc. I probably get the most excited watching my friends do tricks though.
I enjoy most genres, depending on my mood. I listen to a lot of rap and hip hop, new and old. I like lots of old hardcore and punk music. I like a lot of house and “electronic” made music. A lot of “chill wave” hahaha. I like lots of blues and jazz. A lot of old rock n roll. A lot of alternative.
Rap (new): Juicy J – Smokin and Sippin
Hip Hop (old): Beatnuts – Riks Joint
Old HC: Urban Waste – Public Opinion
Chill wave: Clams Casino – All I Need
Blues: Sleepy John Estes – Down South Blues
Jazz: Mulatu Astatke – Girl From Addis Ababa
Old Rock n Roll: Summer Time – Santo and Johnny
Alternative: Hope Sandoval – On the Low
Any big plans for 2013?
Just skateboard and snowboard I guess. Stay healthy, travel.
Do you still play music? I remember you had a band, Topanga and the Flatspots.
I never personally played any music, I was vocals. I would love to learn how to, or just be vocals in a band again. It was really cool being in a band, I loved playing house shows.
You’re currently living in Brooklyn, right? Did you get evacuated because of the storm?
Yeah I’ve been living in Brooklyn for about 2 months now. Just for the fall. It’s great here, but a bit overwhelming. Skateboarding in the city just feels right. It’s crazy when you’re skating around and you see a spot you remember from a video or something. I was in awe the first time I went skating here. It all seemed so surreal. I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of cool skateboarders out here too, so its nice to have homies to call up and skate rather than just going by your self how I did when I first got here.
The hurricane is getting pretty wild right now, I haven’t been evacuated but stuff is flying everywhere out there.
Are you coming back to Calgary? Why or why not?
Yeah I’ll come back to Calgary. Calgary is home for now, and i don’t really have a problem with that. One thing that really bums me out though is that we don’t have any indoor facility to skate during the winter months. It really makes no sense to me. I think that if the city were to provide a spot for kids to go skate in the winter there would be a lot less problems for the youth in the city. I’ve seen countless skateboarders fall into stupid shit during the winter months just out of boredom and nowhere to skate. I know for a fact that if we had a place to skate during the winter, you would see a lot more successful skateboarders coming out of Calgary. Kids here are already so good, and they only have those months of warm weather to skate. If they had a place to go when the weather was bad, they would improve twice as quick. I know that some people might think “well why don’t these kids just start snowboarding like you did?” There are so many families out there that can’t afford to do that. I know if I wasn’t able to get free gear now, and I had to provide equipment for my self, I probably would snowboard either. It’s so expensive to snowboard. I just wish the city would realize that skateboarding is the most positive thing in the world. It’s the ultimate outlet for me, and a lot of people. If I feel angry, sad, happy, whatever, I can always express it through skateboarding. I know how cheesy that sounds but it’s true. I can’t think of many other ways you can express your self creatively and physically with no rules behind it. Every movement is your choice, no right or wrong way. I owe a huge part of who i am to skateboarding. I will never forget the day i got my first skateboard. For a lot of kids it is the only positive thing going on in their life.
Shout outs/last words.
Thanks, Nanny, for bringing over that yellow banana board to our house. Thank you to my family for encouraging me to do what I wanted. Thanks to everyone who supported me along the way. Thanks to Calgary for doing one thing right over decade ago and building the biggest shittiest/best skatepark ever. Shout out to all my homies In Calgary. I miss you! See you soon.
Talia Kaufman is a friend of CASE. She’s currently in Cambodia working with Skateistan as their Communications Officer. We chatted with her about her time with the international non-profit charity.
Hi Talia, I understand you’re living in Cambodia, teaching skateboarding with Skateistan. Can you tell us a bit more about what Skateistan is and what you do?
Skateistan is a non profit that gives opportunities to young people ages 5-17 to be active and creative, and develop life skills through skateboarding. So far it has programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Pakistan. Our students spend half the time skateboarding and half the time following an arts, dance and music based curriculum. My role here is to help teach skating, engage girls with the skating, develop curriculum with my co-worker Alix, as well as handle anything media-related.
So is it a regular school as well as a skateboard school?
It’s a school in that we have classes, teachers, a facility, and a curriculum that we follow. Students come for two hours once a week, usually as part of a pre-existing program they are enrolled in.
In Kabul, where the program has been running for several years already, there is program called “Back to School,” which focuses on students who are not in regular school or who have dropped out. The goal of the program is to prepare these students for regular schooling, eventually helping them pass the entrance exams and enroll back into school. In Phnom Penh our programs are focused on physical activity, music and art, and other learning areas the students might miss out on in their regular school programming.
Where does the funding come from?
The Norwegian and Danish Embassies, and the German Federal Foreign Office are the major funders for Skateistan as a whole.
There are also several Skateistan fundraising entities around the world, which do a ton of work to support us. We are also working on becoming more sustainable through other fundraising methods such as our newly released book, a full-length documentary, and a number of co-branded skateboarding products as well.
Cambodia is the second country that Skateistan has set up in; from what you know about the Afghanistan operation, how do you think what you’re doing is different?
The program in Cambodia is still very new, we acquired a space to build the park and hold classes just a few months ago, so we’re at a different phase of the project than in Afghanistan, which is over four years old. There are so many places a program like this could apply, but it would always look a little different to fit the unique needs of each community.
Are there any dangers? A recent story about a suicide bombing which killed four Skateistan students in Afghanistan made international news. Any dangers like that in Cambodia (land mines, etc)?
Landmines are a huge issue in Cambodia, in rural areas and some towns, in parts of the country, but I don’t feel the two things can be compared at all. Youth in Cambodia do face dangers in their day to day lives, in terms of their health and other dangers that come with living in poverty, such as working in the streets. Girls in particular might have to deal with violence or the risk or reality of being trafficked into the sex trade.
One of your friends and another Calgary skateboarder, Rhianon Bader is working with Skateistan also. Do you compare notes as you have a similar position to hers?
I’m so stoked to get to work with Rhianon. She went on vacation shortly after I started but I’m really looking forward to it.
Is it even possible to skate in Cambodia? The first thing that comes to mind for some people when they think about that country is “jungles”.
The streets are really busy, just full of motorcycles, food vendors, lots of traffic, and there aren’t really sidewalks in most areas. People are really using the space efficiently. You see that in the way the kids skate the park too. Their sense of personal space is a lot smaller than in Calgary, they cut each other off or bump into each other often, but they don’t really seem to mind, it doesn’t throw them off. I haven’t braved many streets on my board yet, but I’m excited to.
Is it strange for Cambodians seeing people skateboarding? What are some of the reactions from the locals?
We get a lot of smiles. Most people have never seen a board before, but a lot want to try it out. People are really curious about it.
What kind of park obstacles do the Skateistan locals like? Are they more into ledges/technical skating or transition?
The kids here love transition…they learn to drop in on the six foot quarter, and have their rock to fakies sorted out well before they’re ollieing.
It’s no secret that Skateistan has had a huge impact with females. Since skateboarding is a male-dominated activity, why have these females in other parts of the world been drawn to skateboarding?
Maybe one reason is that Skateistan has the chance to introduce girls to skateboarding at any age, in a really inviting way. A lot of the kids we reach are really young, and whether they’re boys or girls, at that age they’re pretty fearless and they get excited about everything. But Skateistan does make a huge point of including girls, and other people who are marginalized too.
On that note, you yourself were drawn to skateboarding. What got you into skateboarding?
It was actually Rhianon that got me started and taught me how to ollie and stuff. After that we just made tons of friends who skated. It was fun, a good way to explore the city when you’re just gaining those adolescent freedoms. Looking back I think it made me feel like I belonged places, like the city belonged to us as much as anyone.
Any specific fond memories of skateboarding in Calgary?
Before Millenium opened, and a bit after too, we used to go skate street downtown at James Short, the CBE, Olympic Plaza, Eau Claire, etc. every day after school. We’d go any time of year, as long as it was dry. I have pretty fond memories of those days.
Would you say that skateboarding has helped you?
Oh yeah, in so many ways. It’s really challenging and I’ve had my share of injuries, but I feel like whatever I’ve put into skateboarding, I’ve gotten back ten-fold.
How long do you plan on staying in Cambodia?
My contract here is for six months, so after that I’ll do a little traveling in the area then head back home to my pals in Calgary.
As you know, Calgary is lagging way behind other Canadian cities and towns when it comes to skateparks. As someone who has experienced many other countries, what would you say to us Calgary skaters who complain about our lack of places to skate?
It could be better for sure, but limitations and constraints can force you to find new places to skate. Go do a little D.I.Y project, build a ramp, drive to a part of the city you never go to and see what’s there – Calgary’s huge! Also, Calgary is very dry, that’s a bonus I’ve taken for granted.
You have likely seen a lot more guys riding and wearing Urban Ambush gear lately. UA (Urbun Ambush) is really supporting Calgary skateboard and art talent. As CASE is about all things Calgary and skateboarding we took a moment to sit down and ask Robert Aguirre a few questions about Urban Ambush. Also check out this quick clip of their newest rider Chad Baker doing a nollie fullcab inward 540 heelflip. Yikes, it is pretty crazy and they are calling it the bazooka flip.
1. Please give me a little history on Urban Ambush as well as your involvement?
Karim worked on Graphics for Barry Walsh when he was on True North and then after True North went of business. Karim and Barry Walsh started Urban Ambush because they wanted to continue working together and making their own stuff. Barry Walsh recently left Urban Ambush to ride for Creation. In Jan 2012, I started as a team rider and shortly after that I became partners with Karim. In 2012, I started hooking up for Calgary riders and artists. I still am a team rider but I am also the Team Manager and co-owner.
2. UA has a lot of Calgary riders what is the connection to Calgary?
Karim lived in Calgary before he moved to Montreal. He started Urban Ambush in Montreal but always had a connection to Calgary. Once I became involved that connection has grown stronger with the addition of more Calgary riders and artists.
3. Are there any local shops skaters can get the boards or gear at?
Mission in Calgary and Borderline in Lethbridge are currently carrying our products and the Source is planning on carrying them in 2013. Head down to their shops and show them some support as they are supporting us. We are constantly expanding the places that carry Urban Ambush so if you are not able to find it at your local shop ask them to carry it or connect with me and I will let you know where to find our stuff.
4. You guys are filming a lot is there a video coming out or a place people can check the footage?
We are constantly updating the Urban Ambush website http://urbanambush.com/ with video content and also on the watch for a full UA video in 2013.
5. Does UA have any events planned coming up?
Summer is coming to an end but be on the watch for Urban Ambush at any of the upcoming local skate events. Also look for the video and some bigger events in 2013.
6. What do you see for the future of UA?
The Urban Ambush crew of local and Montreal based skaters and artists are constantly strengthening. We are supporting them as riders and artists and as they grow so does Urban Ambush. We are working on a new series of eight board graphics with Calgary artists and looking to expand our clothing line.
7. Any message you want to get out?
I just want to thank everyone who has supported us and everyone that is involved with Urban Ambush. Look for our stuff at Mission and Borderline. Big thanks to our local team riders Steve Zeeb, Eddie Merrier, Joe Buffalo, Kevin Low, Chad baker, Steve Rohl and all the MTL riders as well. Thanks to our local artists Tele Asencio, Lee-Anne Kennedy & Teika Hudson (See Eddie’s Board for her great work). Blackbird Electric Custom Tattoo artists Jay Slinger, Garrett Price and Max Gerchikov. Also thanks to Kyle Pellerin for filming and photo, Zev and Circa for their support and a big thanks to Paulo Diogo for introducing me to Karim. Look for some great things to come out of Calgary and Urban Ambush!