Interview with TEEMU GRONLUND
Thanks for your interest in our project! My name is Teemu, born here in Tampere, skateboarding for 20 years.
I'm heavily inspired by the nature, culture and DIY skateboard scene in the Pacific Northwest! I've been in charge of our new projects for quite some time now working directly with our community, skatepark builders around Finland, city administratives and politicians. I'm a molecular biologist and a science teacher by my profession but ended up developing skateboarding here in Finland for living.
We started building skateparks out of wood with friends from school around 2001 since there was none here. There was an indoor skatepark and that kept us going during the harsh winters. We kept on building and skateboarding till today with the same group of friends. At some point we had the chance to travel and got inspired by pool skating especially in Slovenia, Germany, Denmark and Sweden and Basque Country.
We started pouring concrete in 2009 in this abandoned brick factory covered with a forest. The land owner had rented the land from the city and he let us built there after negotiations. We built a 400m2 DIY park with a backyard pool vibe. Had parties there and collaborated with the crusty punks living there as neighbours. At some point the city sold the land to some corporation building elderly house and there was nothing to do to stop it.
We started thinking about how we could make this shit in a larger scale and indoors in a way that would be forever. We started working with the city in all areas. We went to every public discussion with the officers and politicians to turn the dialogue into skateboarding and skateparks. First we gained the biggest public skatepark in Finland built by Beaver Concrete from Canada and Concrete Proof from Finland. Then we suggested the city should open doors to this old . brick paper factory that stopped working and let the culture develop the space as an exchange for cheap rent. The city bought the factory and we made a development plan for 4 years. They gave us the space we selected around 600m2 indoor + 500m2 inner yard. The rent started with 50e a month with no heating or electricity. We put a 10ft vert ramp there and skated it with long underpants during the winter. Then we made the bowl. We financed it with the government money we applied, money from the city and sponsors. We gathered 70 000e from here and there. We all worked for free. Now the rent is 1000e a month. We're expect to get a 870m2 expansion for street course and pour some crete on the inner yard. Actually to finish it nexy Summer 2020 since it already has a 300m2 . bowl.
Were having people skating 7 days a week, have skateschool every Thursday, skatecamps events every month and gestivals during the summer. It turned out good and Kenneli DIY is running.
The big difference in here compared to US might be that in here there are not so much private land. Everything is public land more or less and owned by the city. All the older dudes once told me not to work with city officers because useless. I didn't listen to them because I wanted more stuff to skate and in mu opintion we had nothing to lose. It took about 5 years to know every . head of the different departments of the city by frist name basis and get shit done.
Now we have proven them we can deliver when they invest on us and the impact to the communtiy is far greater than the money they put in. We try to skip most of the shit that demands construction laws and shit. We just build and its all done together. Theres like 50 of us and about 20 of us participate on the planning and building. First we build for the future. The bowl is huge because if we have made it small or out of wood they would have torn it down already.
We built something gnarly and they were like woah what the fuck is that?! And then the pro skaters started showing up in out events rupping the place and they got it. Now we send them (the city) bills everytime we do anything. I still have concerns about the future and we need to verify our space in the factory. I want to make a 10-20 year rental contract with the city about the space asao. All the city departments are backing us now but I need to have the future in black n white.