“We are advocates for skateboarding.
Flow Initiative’s mission is to demonstrate a positive change in a community empowered through skateboarding.
We are working to continue the development of public skateparks so the younger generation will always have a safe place to skate, accessible to them regardless of where they live.”
I grew up in a time in the 1980’s and 1990’s that was an odd transitional time for the counter culture. Counter culture groups were popular enough to have a small group of people, but not accepted enough in the main stream, so the high school bullies still ran amok on the group of “geeks” as they saw it, creating seemingly outcast groups of kids. Growing up in a small town, these outcast kids typically banded together and united under one common love. For the group of vagabonds that I ran around with, that cause was skateboarding. It a time where we didn’t feel like we fit in anywhere, we found acceptance in skateboarding. In my case, skateboarding was the gateway to punk rock, activism, and tattooing, forever changing my life. For that I like to say that skateboarding saved my life.
Our small town in southern Alabama was all one big skatepark to us. We ran around to every concrete slab, covered or not, setting up ramps and declaring it a new park for a few weeks. At that time, we didn’t have city funding behind us, we couldn’t even get support to stay at one spot skating for more than a week or so. We would just continue on, running from authorities, setting up a new spot to skate at for maybe another week. Skateboard gypsies. This is no longer the case in Southern Alabama, with a skatepark popping up now in every town. Moving back and seeing all that had changed, I was completely amazed. I never thought I would see my area be supportive of skateboarding, especially on a city level. Digging deeper, I learned the origin of this new found support. Kids like myself, grew up, became small business owners, and became advocates for the community. The generation had shifted, and change had begun.
One such advocate is Jewel Cullen, the owner of Wooden Heart Skate Shop in Mobile. Jewel worked hard with the city of Mobile to create a skate park in the city, raising money for everything from ramps to trashcans. They created a park that is now full of kids that were just like us, spending their days sweating and skateboarding. Jewel has worked tirelessly, wanting no credit, to see that the kids skateboarding now have everything they need, and can help take part in helping progress our community. With that same heart and intention, Jewel began to put together a group whose sole focus is that, “to demonstrate a positive change in a community empowered through skateboarding”. That group is now called Flow Initiative, which I am grateful to be on the board of.
Flow Initiative is now at the step of raising money to help support the programs and plans that are being created. We at the Serpents of Bienville are partnering with the Flow Initiative for our first gallery show at our new location in Downtown Mobile on Friday September 9th starting at 6pm. We are working with the amazing people at Flux to help bring arts, history and other aspects of counter culture to our community in our new location. Flux Gallery will be opening at the beginning of next year, and from there we have plans of constant growth, working with the artists in our community to create a new space and ideas. We are excited about our new venture, and all the opportunity it presents. Our first show will be a skateboard art show featuring the art of Jewel Cullen. We at Serpents of Bienville supplied Jewel with all of our logos and graphics, and in the true spirit of skateboarding art and culture, Jewel will be cutting them up, and putting them back together as all new graphics and images, each one completely unique. Skateboarding graphics have a history of this reimagining of existing images, creating all new icons out of already familiar ones. The images are then screen printed by hand on skateboard decks, all by Jewel. These decks will be sold and auctioned off that night, and at this event we will also be taking preorders for the new “Serpents of Bienville” skateboard, available through a partnership with Wooden Heart, the Flow Initiative and Serpents of Bienville. We will be selling this new skateboard deck at our store and on our website. A portion of these proceeds will go to benefit the Flow Initiative and the programs the group will be creating for our community.
We are excited and grateful to be part of such an amazing project with such awesome people. When I was telling my closest friend about the project the other day, he said “Did you ever think growing up that we would have the ability to create skateboards, with our own graphics, and have them for sale for other people to use and skate?” I sat back and realized that the 14 year old in me would have been screaming out of excitement at this point, and I am extremely grateful for the amazing community I have around me in my home town. I am excited for the movement that is building, and the opportunities we have.
Come out and support the cause, and take part in our newest addition to our ever growing community, Friday September 9th, at downtown Mobile’s Art Walk.
Our address is 754 Government Street, Mobile, Al.
We hope to see you all there.