Undergraduate Symposium: Skateboarding

Skating in Your Space, Saving Your Community

by Amy Bearinger, Published March 26, 2012

The 32nd Undergraduate Symposium provides attendants with a variety of student projects from a wide range of majors and departments. A first-time presenter whose project reflects the representation of diverse and unique research is senior Noah Pylvainen.

Pylvainen is an urban and regional planning major from West Bloomfield, Mich., who looks forward to presenting his project titled, "A Place to Skate: The Battle for Inclusive Public Space and Why We Need It."

According to Pylvainen, if regulations on skateboarding (and various other activities) are removed, cities that are currently trying to brand themselves as "cool cities" have an even greater opportunity to attract the specific demographic they are trying to attract to their downtowns. The cities will also be able to capitalize on the multimillion-dollar industry that is skateboarding.


Noah Pylvainen

"Whether street musicians, actors or skateboarders, these uses (for public space) are what make communities unique," Pylvainen explained. "From this study, I'm hoping recommendations can be made to municipalities about how to best integrate uses like skateboarding into the public realm."

Looking at technological advances such as cell phones and the Internet, audience members will see that public space is slowly turning into transitional space between more private locations like coffee shops, bookstores and corporate plazas. In short, it is no longer truly "public."

Pylvainen wants his audience to understand that declining public space can have a direct impact on a community's survival. 

"We need to build public space that actually reflects our communities and that is inclusive to all groups," Pylvainen said. "When we do this, we reap the benefits of the highest quality space, economy and beauty."

This project will be presented during Session B in room 304 of the Student Center. For more information about the Symposium and schedule of student presentations, please visit emich.edu/symposium.

Geoff Larcom



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