As a part of the #LiveMarley contest on our Facebook page, we’ve been asking you to submit stories of how you have personally been inspired by Bob Marley’s values. The first winner of one of our sick new watches is Jeremy Hopwood, a 27-year-old skater from Seattle, who is also the owner of Caravan, a mobile skate shop.
OK. Your first thought was “What’s a mobile skate shop?” Right? Well, Jeremy was tired of the old skate shop model — he wanted to move it out into the streets. Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, Hopwood bought a van, tricked it out with a quarter pipe and stocked it full of decks, wheels and trucks. Forget the ice cream man… Kids are now running to the Caravan Skate Shop van. We spent some time talking to Jeremy about the shop, his charity work with Skate For Change and the future of the van.
What was the reason that you started Caravan?
Caravan evolved out of boredom and a desire to do something meaningful. The whole idea didn’t come to me at once, but it was a feeling that I had… A burning. After I thought of the mobile skate shop idea, it took me a few months before I actually bought the vehicle. It was Earth Day 2012. My friend and I went out for a day trip here in Issaquah, Washington, starting at 6 or 7 AM. We actually didn’t know it was Earth Day until we got back from the trip.
How did the charitable element come into play?
The charity aspect came out of pure desire to continue what I started. I went to a local skate shop with the idea and the owner and I began converting the van to have a better aesthetic and functionality for skateboarding. I got word of Pam Miller (a skate event organizer) and her work, and was able to go to that first event at Samammish Park and volunteer with set-up/breakdown for the event. I passed out water and had tools and extra bearings/hardware for people skating. It slowly evolved to where I was accepting donations of skateboard equipment and shoes, and then going to events and giving them out to kids who needed them.
How did you become involved with Skate For Change?
Getting involved with Skate for Change (a non-profit group of skaters who give back to low-income families and the homeless) was another blessing from Pam Miller, and the skate park competition circuit she runs. I took the Caravan out to Woodinville Skatepark with a pack of younger rippers, Jaeden Ovenall, Kyle McQueen and we entered the contest as a team. It was the first contest I had been in since I was 18 or so. So Skate for Change had a booth set up and it was about as natural as it could have been. I was already doing the charity aspect of Caravan and it was a perfect fit.
What kind of projects are you working on with Skate For Change?
Caravan and Skate for Change are starting to come together, but it hasn’t happened just quite yet. Mike Smith [the founder of Skate For Change] travels the country and speaks at high schools, and is gaining a huge following. They just won the State Farm $25,000 grant for the second year in a row, and just recently opened up the Bay in Nebraska, an indoor skate park/youth facility. So as far as my part, I go out with SFC Seattle most Sundays and spread the word about what we are doing in our community. Besides that, I am working to recycle used skateboards by shaping, sanding, and painting them, and by leading by example.
What’s the connection between skateboarding and making changes in society?
I’ve had conversations about the connection between skating and society since I was a lot younger. The first skateboard video I was in was called Wood Relation. To me that title says a lot on its own; skateboards are a vehicle for positivity and growth for individuals. They don’t pollute the environment, at least their carbon footprint is much smaller than most other modes of transportation. Beyond that, skating is an outlet for creativity, in art, in the physical form and with photography/filmmaking. It’s an extremely positive activity, but I believe anything active can be good. A lot of skaters don’t like scooters, rollerbladers, bmx or traditional sports. I think those are great and much better than kids playing Call of Duty any day.
Some people just don’t understand skaters. They think they are lazy. They think they are destructive. “A skater comes down the street and it’s loud… It shocks people,” Hopwood says of skaters’ reputation. “They think you are reckless and are going to run into them.” Through his work with Caravan and his latest adventure (a summer spent acting as a counselor at a Massachussets sports camp), Jeremy is doing his part to keep the skate community in a positive light. He’s even considering making Caravan a bi-coastal project with a new van on the East Coast.
If Bob Marley’s vision for a better world has inspired you to hit the streets, plant trees, pick up trash or spend time helping others in your community, then we want to hear your story! Visit the #LiveMarley contest page on our Facebook profile and tell us what you are doing locally to improve the planet for a chance to win a new watch.