Michael Brooke is a self-proclaimed "skategeezer," and the title has merit: He's an industry legend who first laid eyes on a board in 1972 and has been rolling on four wheels for more than 37 years. He also publishes Concrete Wave, a magazine dedicated to longboarding with more than 100,000 readers around the world—a stat that forced him to think about the sport globally in 2012, when he got a nagging feeling that longboarding might just help bridge the peace between Arab and Israeli children in the Middle East (see video below).
"I knew that one of the best ways to achieve peace is to start with youth," Brooke tells GrindTV. "They don't have the baggage that adults have. I've been skating for almost four decades, and it's kept me young. I just felt instinctively that if we start a peace movement powered by longboarding, it would entice youth and intrigue adults."
Sound too simple? According to Brooke, sometimes the most obvious answer to conflict is also the most effective. Concrete Wave partnered with Surfing for Peace and the Peres Center for Peace to launch a series of skating workshops in the region and in just two years, the movement—dubbed Longboarding For Peace (LFP)—spread to more than 25 countries.
And that's just the beginning; here are five reasons why skateboarding might just save the world.
Because it's simple and effective
"Harnessing the power of longboarders to step up and make a difference has become like oxygen for me," says Brooke of his global peace movement. "A small idea, started in my basement, is starting to explode worldwide. That is the power of ideas."
Because it's a global solution
Brooke explains that longboarding, a physical activity, transcends barriers between language and culture—it's something anyone can understand and opens up a dialogue between people of varying backgrounds, religions, age, and gender.
Because Longboarding For Peace has partnered with the Non-Violence Project
The newest growth spurt for Brooke's organization comes in the form of a partnership with The Non-Violence Project Foundation (NVP), a global movement to inspire, motivate, and engage young people to understand how to solve conflicts peacefully. The Non-Violence sculpture—the knotted gun outside of the United Nations Headquarters—is a worldwide icon of peace.
Because longboards get guns off the streets
In addition to working to educate youth gangs in Houston and middle school kids in Toronto about peaceful conflict resolution, Longboarding for Peace also helmed a movement to get more semi-automatic and fully automatic guns out of neighborhoods in California. "We took more than a dozen fully automatic guns off the streets of San Pedro and traded them in for longboards," Brooke says of Longboarding For Peace’s partnership with Carver Skateboards, a program that allows anyone to come in off the street and swap a weapon for a brand new board. "We have more than 60 longboards to trade in for guns in San Diego this year."
Because anyone can get involved
Brooke encourages anyone interested in working with Longboarding For Peace to simply shoot him an email at [email protected]. For anyone already too crunched for time, Brooke suggests participating in Longboarding For Peace’s Blood from Boarders program—October is blood donation month and their aim is to eventually get 50,000 skaters, surfers, and snowboarders to give blood. Simple? Well, you know Brooke feels about that.
More from GrindTV