n 2007, Traci Johnson, 41, founded Culture Skateboards with her husband Jay to support and promote young skateboarders from New York City. While teaching her nephew to skate, Johnson was astonished to hear young skaters talk about achieving fame and fortune as if that were the purpose of the sport. A lifelong skater, she decided to start an organization that would not only teach kids how to skate, but educate them about the history and culture of skateboarding.
Since then, that project has broadened. Culture Skateboard now sells its own line of skateboard decks. The profits help Johnson keep her seven-member team equipped. The team also travels around the region to skate on new street terrain and visit skate parks.
Last fall, Culture Skateboards opened the first phase of a skate park at Brower Park in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Johnson secured the funds from New York State Senator Eric Adams, marshaling 100 skaters to cruise to his office to prove the community needed a skate park. She hopes to create more low-budget, multi-phase skate spots at New York City parks.
Johnson is now at work getting grants to fund video and graphic arts programs for skaters who want to learn how to shoot and edit skateboarding footage and design apparel and decks. There are about eight million active skateboarders in the United States, and they spend $7.8 billion per year on skateboard equipment, apparel and accessories, according to Board-Trac, an action sports marketing consulting and research company.
On a recent Saturday, Johnson was at Brower Park with team to film members Mikele Deruine, 17; Aaron Warner, 18; and Tyhaim Morris, 21, for the team’s promotional video.