Skate or die – or do research. What a time to be alive


Jenkem article on academia 2019

Jenkem article on academia 2019


It seemed somehow fitting and was also one of the best birthday surprises ever that some sociological research I co-wrote about ageing skaters popped up in a Jenkem Magazine article on skate academia on 14 October 2019, just a couple of days before my 48th.  There are many topics I care and write about, but skateboarding is quite special. The feeling skateboarding gives skaters is very hard to pin down into words, even for writers who skate. It is at times urgent and the need is certainly regular. And, with every push and moment we are on our board, or in the air about to greet it with our feet, is an anticipation we might be rewarded with an indescribable joy that money, reputation, connections and clout can’t deliver. To know is to know – skating delivers you into a zone, a state of grace, a place of purity, and rhythm that is all consuming, difficult to stop yet also beautifully ephemeral.

We have reached interesting times where people who skate bring all kinds of things to the table. Jenkem Magazine noted in an older 2016 article that the world of boards and books aren’t always separate and don’t need to be. Post Pushing Boarders Conference 1 and 2 it has never been so easy to see and meet skateboarders who are dedicated to changing the world and this includes through research.

It makes sense to me that skateboarders, with their creative, quick-thinking minds, the sharpest eyes for detail (particularly when seeing street spots) and love of history (talk skate parts and see how skaters have a memory as strong as a library-catalogue) become drawn to the world of academia.  Most skaters also have street smarts as well as book smarts and therefore also bring a much more grounded and adaptable approach to research and learning, Skateboarders often also draw on remarkable lived experiences as well as their unstoppable determination, wills of steel and a skill for abstract thinking (e.g. all tricks appear impossible at first and  imagination, physics and much more unfold).   

So if you’ve ever been interested in taking your love of skating over to studying and research have entire faith in yourself – I do.

I believe you have what it takes and then some.

Thank you Alexis Castro for reviewing my co-authored paper with colleagues Professor Andy Bennett, Mikko Piispa and Dr Ben Green and for not being too ‘tired’ reading a sociological study about Tired Skateboards.  Also happy face and an embarrassingly big excited shout out to my friends and peers Christopher Giamarino and his co-researcher Chihsin Chui (reviewed by Larry Lanza),  Dr Adelina Ong (paper reviewed by CK) Dr Dani Abulhawa (reviewed by Claire Alleaume)) and Dr Sander Holsgens (reviewed by Nic Dobija-Nootens)


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New article about Pushing Boarders in Yeah Girl Media

New article about Pushing Boarders I wrote for Yeah Girl Media is now live – read here with photos by legend Norma Ibarra

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Pushing Boarders article in Yeah Girl Media by Indigo Willing with photos by Norma Ibarra

There’s an ethical turn in skateboarding and Pushing Boarders, the world’s first and largest academic skateboarding conference, illuminated that. The inaugural event was in London, UK last year and this year it was hosted in Malmo, Sweden. It felt so incredibly fortunate and surreal to be there as speaker on ‘The University of Skate: Support Your Local Academic’ Panel to talk about some of my emerging skateboarding research, as co-founder of Girls Skate Brisbane and to facilitate the launch of Consent is Rad. This was one of those ‘experiences of a lifetime’ that I am forever grateful for and especially for the many new friends, collaborators, mentors and inspirational people I met.

Post event I caught up with over 30 attendees to talk about their perspectives and reflections on the event. In this article (part 1 of 3) the Pushing Boarders ‘class of 2019’ talked about how skateboarding has changed from the past to now, why it is a sign of the times and what were some of the biggest learning experiences they had. In Part 2 the focus will turn to looking at what kind of mentors and networks arise from the world’s only skateboarding conference. The conference’s theme of mental health will also be considered, and what advice people at Pushing Boarders have on how they have overcome issues of self-esteem and anxiety about skateboarding, from individuals who are pro-skaters to people just starting to roll. Part 3 then will ask ‘how far has skateboarding still got to go’ in terms of being ‘for everyone’ and concludes by asking advice from this amazing group of womxn, non-binary and non-conforming gender diverse group of individuals from around the globe ‘how skaters can change the world’? Stay tuned…

Thanks PB organizers, all the amazing interviewees talking skating ❤️ & editor/YG founder @thesarahhuston

*womxn is used in a range of contexts to signify a more inclusive category that recognises intersectionality e.g. Trans Women and People of Colour

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Consent is Rad in Skateism Mag

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Thank you Skateism Magazine for writing an article about Consent is Rad, a no naming, shaming or blaming collaborative project with a focus on expressions of care, education and the promotion of consent as a positive part of how we interact in the skateboarding community. Co-founded and co-developed by various individuals and groups including us at Girls Skate Brisbane (co-run by Evie, Tora and me), the campaign was launched during my visit to the Pushing Boarders conference in Malmo Sweden with the support of Skateism and the Reverb Skate Research group.

The Consent is Rad project encourages skaters and skate groups from around the world to take photos, videos or create art with the simple message #consentisrad which is then shared on our collectively developed campaign’s social media on Instagram @consent_is_rad and Facebook @consentisrad.  So far there has been overwhelming support from skateboarders of various backgrounds including skate group leaders, academics, journalists, professional skateboarders, artists and filmmakers. This includes Bing Liu who was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary skate film ‘Minding the Gap’ in 2019 which addresses issues of racism, mental health, domestic violence and alcohol dependency in the skate scene. Rick McCrank, a former pro-skater and TV documentary maker (Vice’s Abandoned series and Post Radical) is also featured as well as contributions from skaters based in countries as far apart as Peru (Layla G Leon from Concrete Jungle Foundation) to Norway (Peach Sorenson from Doyenne Skateboards) and the USA (Natalia Krishnadas the LasChicAZ Team, Exposure Skate).

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Imke Leerink, Layla G. Leon, Kim Woozy, Tora Waldren, Evie Ryder, Indigo Willing and Kristen Ebeling featured in the Consent is Rad campaign

We know a campaign like this is limited in what it can do and does, but it is certainly a conversation starter and hopefully makes consent seem like a positive and important thing to integrate into how skaters interact with each other at parties, road trips, mentoring situations, dating and so on, no matter what genders and sexualities.

As we state in the article, put together by Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, “There’s nothing better in skating than when everyone is being rad to each other. As part of that, cheering on someone who’s had a great run is rad. Being stoked when someone gets a new trick is rad. That feeling of just arriving at the skatepark and skate spot with friends and getting ready to shred is rad. Going to that skate party or skate premier to have a great time is rad. Going on road trips is rad. Getting drinks together after a skate is rad. Being mutually attracted to someone in these contexts is rad. Taking that attraction further is rad. Consent is rad. Stay safe, mingle ethically and have fun!”


Indi Consent is Rad


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Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary World

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This month has been really busy and it has been really lovely to be asked by various media to talk and share about things I love, live and breath. This includes skateboarding, which has numerous social benefits and intriguing sociological dimensions. A really treasured connection I made recently was with Norma Ibarra at Pushing Boarders. Norma is a skater and photographer from Mexico who is part of the Skate Witches and many more great projects. She recently did a photo series with Yeah Girl Media and I was stoked to be included with a group of amazing girls, women and non binary individuals from the skateboarding world of various age ranges, nationalities and backgrounds. Thanks so much Norma and Yeah Girl Media run by Sarah Huston for all you two do. I am currently writing a longer 3 part feature about Pushing Boarders with interviews with a range of skaters and more photos by Norma which will be available soon. Meanwhile check out Norma’s amazing photo series here: 

There’s also been media coverage of my research and community work thanks to the wonderful communications team at Griffith University, who have been enthusiastically supporting my research and recognise the rising status of skateboarding as a tool for social change and increasing popular global phenomenon (which will increase once it makes its debut in 2020 Olympics). Much appreciation for The Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research too where I have been a post-doctoral researcher and am currently an adjunct fellow. 

Recent stories include in the ‘Ordinary People’ section of Q Weekend News, The Courier Mail QLD’s major newspaper. Interviewed by Melanie Burgess, I talked about how the Vietnam War has impacted on my life forever, founding the volunteer network Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) which has been running for almost 20 years, doing a PhD, working in academia, co-running a girls skateboarding network and other community and research things in that area too. In many ways the article captures exactly who I am, an ordinary kid from an orphanage in Vietnam who keeps ending up in extraordinary worlds, including academia, the skateboarding scene in Brisbane, Australia and the recent Pushing Boarders skateboarding conference in Malmo Sweden, which I talk about in that interview as well. An event bringing together skaters who wish to change the world, it was such an honour to hear everyone’s stories, views and hopes, as well as meeting many wonderful new friends and collaborators.


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Racism, Sport & Genders: Moving Together & Beyond Binaries Inaugural Event

Photos from the debut of the ‘Racism, Sport & Genders: Moving Together & Beyond Binaries’ public lecture, Yugambeh and Komburmerri Land, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Australia. 

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On 20th of September 2019 we held the very first free Public Lecture and Workshop: ‘Racism, Sport & Genders: Moving Together & Beyond Binaries’. The event had five speakers and showed trailers for the films The Australian Dream (written by Professor Stan Grant about AFL star Adam Goodes), The Mystery of Now (by Audrey Buchanan and Douglas Miles about Apache Skateboards) and Carving Space (Queer skateboarding documentary), and included a workshop where attendees reflected on event themes and talked about their own road maps, responses and goals for the future. A report will be written up with various resources available and distributed at a later date. 

A Prof Sandy O’Sullivan (they/them) Wiradjuri Nation

Dr Adele Pavlidis (she/her) Greek Australian heritage
Dr Laura RodríguezCastro (she/her) Colombian heritage
Dr Diti Bhattacharya (she/her) Indian heritage
Dr Indigo Willing OAM (she/her) Vietnamese-Chinese-Ango-German heritage
See bios here
Sponsored by The Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research Public Lecture Co-hosts Dr Indigo Willing OAM and Dr Adele Pavlidis.
Followed the Women in Sport III symposium org by Adele and with Prof Simone Fullagar Program of full day of events including this free lecture and bios of the speakers above:
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Vent City Podcast Interview with Ryan Lay recorded at Pushing Boarders

🐶🛹 VENT CITY PODCAST:  I’ve never really been on a pod cast and somehow I was on one in a recent interview by Ryan Lay @ryan_lay on Vent City recorded at the Pushing Boarders conference. Subscribe to support the show and listen. Currently has interviews with two skate academics Dr Thom Challan @chomtallan (a super cool one) & me (not at all cool one) talking research, Betsy Gordon @swellesleygrl from the Smithsonian, Mimi Knoop @mimiknoop a leading voice for women in sport, @hooplaskate founder, and former vert pro skater, and Rick McCrank @mccranker the kickass skater & doco maker (Abandoned & Post Radical). The interview with Mimi Knoop can be accessed for free 🎉

I cover a bit of sociology and some unlikely tangents, from mums skating in their 40s, affectionate memories of crusty skate bowls that can give you tetanus but you’d say ‘hell yeah’ to now anyway, skaters caring about the environment and for each other more, and my new research project on The New Ethics of Skateboarding. The topics kind of roll along like fluffy clouds in a Gus Van Sant movie. They don’t perfectly blend or match, but they mean no harm and just do their thing while possibly providing a humble and interesting view or two.

#pushingboarders#pushingboardersmalmo #ventcity#girlsskatebrisbaneVent City podcast

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‘Racism, Sport and Genders: Moving Together and Beyond Binaries

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Registration details here

Racism, Sport and Genders: Moving Together Beyond Binaries

Public Lecture and Workshop

Co-Convened by Dr Indigo Willing OAM and Dr Adele Pavlidis

Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research

Photo by Emy Lee. Board by The Killing Floor.

Held: Friday 20th September – 4pm to 5pm

Griffith University Library G11 4.29 Gold Coast Campus

Aboriginal Land / Yugambeh and Kombumerri Nations


  • Associate Professor Sandy O’Sullivan (they/them)
  • Dr Adele Pavlidis (she/her)
  • Dr Laura Rodriguez Castro (she/her)
  • Dr Diti Bhattacharya (she/her)
  • Dr Indigo Willing OAM (she/her)


The Australian Dream  

Written by Stan Grant and featuring the story of Adam Goodes. Directed by Daniel Gordon.

The Mystery of Now

Written by Douglas Miles Snr, Apache Skateboards and Directed by Audrey Buchanan

Griffith University acknowledges the people who are the traditional custodians of the land, pays respect to the Elders, past and present, and extends that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

More collaborative workshop than lecture, this special event will incorporate insights from various individuals working in the areas of sport, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous Studies, critical race theory and themes of intersectionality.  A small groups discussion session between speakers and attendees is also included. Public are welcome to participate in an interactive discussion of skills sharing and brainstorming to further strengthen stratergies and resources that address issues of racism in sport from women’s and non-binary individuals perspectives.

Enormous thanks to our sponsor: The Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, and all the collaborators/speakers (listed above), Centre Director Professor Susan Forde and Acting Director A/Prof Halim Rane, Prof Simone Fullagar plus GU event, PR and communication staff including Amy Wallace and Kim Podger. We will be looking for more funding to invite more local speakers plus interstate and overseas guests next round, next year. Fingers crossed 🙂


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