Brush Park BMX Invades Downtown Detroit

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The question of what to do about the city of Detroit may be an endless puzzle for politicians, but for many dedicated community members, the idea is much more simple. Grassroots based projects have always kept many in the city fed, clothed and entertained, all at the same time. Something as small as transforming an underutilized public park could literally change a city block. With that in mind, the Brush Park BMX revival was brought to life.

Led by local BMXer/freelance photographer Joe Gall, a team of dedicated bike riders set about cleaning up Brush Park in early April. Even though the park is located only a few blocks away from the stadiums that are home to the Detroit Lions and Tigers, the location was largely neglected since the early 1970s. Over the course of a few months, the crew packed up bag after bag with 20 to 30 plus years of trash and completely tore apart the overgrown shrubbery.

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While cleaning up the park was the initial goal, once the trash and debris were removed, it was time to start building an epic BMX park. By suggestion of the park’s neighbors, the bikers incorporated the vintage playground equipment that was still standing into the course’s architecture. A 10-foot metal slide acts as a starter ramp for the series of dirt jumps, which flows riders through and around concrete statues, monkey bars and more.

Gaining the confidence of the surroundings of the community was key in the success of building the Brush Park BMX trail. The city of Detroit tends to see its property misused by outsiders, but instead, this crew of riders (many of whom live near the park) went about their project the right way. By cleaning the area and making it safer for all, the park became a site for anyone to hang out, no matter whether they are into bike riding or not.

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Creating something new out of an item that has long been forgotten is what the #LiveMarley movement is all about. Just as we have taken items from society’s waste stream and reused them in our earth friendly headphones, portable audio systems, Lively Up bags and watch line, the BMXers of Detroit have revitalized a park for their community.  We’d like to say “Happy Trails!” to the Brush Park BMX crew and hope that they will continue making a difference.

Photos courtesy of @BrushParkBMX and @BrushPark_MyHood

House of Marley and Shwood Wood Sunglasses Team For Instagram Contest

shwood-marley1 A recycled tree limb might be the last place you’d expect to get a pair of shades from, but a Portland-based company Shwood is creating stylish sunglasses out of all types of materials. Created by Eric Singer and his co-founders in 2009, the brand has made their stamp by creating some dope eyewear with a handcrafted DIY touch.

It’s always exciting to see companies like Shwood creating awesome gear with the same resources that we use to produce our earth-friendly headphones, portable audio systems, Lively Up bags and watches. Recently, we caught up with Singer and talked about how Shwood’s wood sunglasses are made from scratch. Check out the interview below and learn how you can win a pair of Shwood sunglasses and Stir It Up on-ear headphones from The House of Marley:

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What made you decide on sunglasses when you took that first tree limb and made a new product? It could have been anything… why sunglasses?

I guess my logic was “WHY NOT sunglasses?”  It all happened during a stagnant time for me creatively. It was the summer after graduating from high school. I had made so many random things, and my house was full of this junk pile of it all. I always kept a pretty nice collection of vintage sunglasses I would find. The second that these two things (making something/sunglasses) popped into my mind was the exact moment that I started building the first pair.

What’s the process of making each pair of sunglasses? How much time goes into creating one pair? How many hands touch each pair?

Our process has always been pretty intense. One pair of sunglasses will travel through upwards of 25 hands before it leaves our doors. On average, hand time per pair is one hour and 34 minutes, though if you calculate dry times of glues and finishes you’re at about six and a half hours.  The process starts with hand-selecting our various woods to weed out bad lumber.

From there it passes through all the stages of milling that lumber down to workable veneers. These veneers are laser cut to produce our shapes, which are then pressed up and glued together, parts are attached and sanded, re-worked, hand sanded and shaped some more, and hinges are attached and set. These frames are then finished for protection from the elements, and lenses are cut specific to each frame. Once fitted with the right lenses, they are cleaned by hand to ensure a flawless first impression by the consumer and packaged, ready for the always-friendly UPS courier.

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Tell us about the Shwoodshop in Portland. How big is it? How many employees? What is some of the equipment that you use on a daily basis?

Shwood officially launched in 2009, and currently employs 50 people in our Portland, Oregon workshop. With 150 pairs made every day, and our growing awareness around the world, it’s exciting to see how much our sales are constantly outpacing production. Every step from veneering and precision lens cutting, to shaping and finishing, is conducted in house, and Shwood has seen a steady growth in sales every year. Our large equipment arsenal consists of a man-sized band saw, dual drum sander, hydraulic presses, a 60 gallon industrial air compressor, a few massive dust collectors, a tabletop CNC, 5 lasers and a couple of really big shop fans.

At House of Marley, we work with Earth-friendly materials like FSC-certified wood, recycled aluminum and organic cotton. Is using eco-friendly materials important to Shwood?

Yes, using eco-friendly materials is very important to us… The root of our brand is to “Experiment With Nature”, and since 2009 we’ve been producing sunglasses using sustainably harvested wood sourced from local mills in Portland, now stone, and even recycled skateboards and whiskey barrels… The nature around us is translated through each product we develop: the woods we use are all as premium as it gets, and all locally-sourced and sustainably harvested. Each piece we make gathers inspiration from vintage and classic silhouettes, and takes inspiration from the environment where Shwood is located.

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In an era where it’s so easy to get a mold and make a million plastic products cheaply, why did you want to take the time to create something that was so hands-on?

Many products are not made how they used to be – so much is developed from plastic now. In our opinion, the way the world operated before plastics carried a sense of quality that’s hard to find today. At Shwood, we all felt that the sunglasses industry was no exception to this opinion, so we did something about that. We have chosen a classic route for the image of our brand, and this is represented in our styles. It’s a good feeling to be able to look at a piece of nature around us, and recycle it into an amazing pair of sunglasses.

What pair are you wearing at the moment? Do you have a personal favorite?

My favorite is the Dark Walnut Belmont Original outfitted with brown polarized lenses. They look good while keeping things subtle.

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Teaming together with Shwood, we are giving you a chance to win a pair of Canby wood sunglasses and our Stir It Up on-ear headphones. Head to your Instagram, like and regram the contest photo from our account and be sure to follow and tag @houseofmarley and @shwoodshop. Add #MarleyShwood to your post and you will instantly be entered to win the giveaway. Submissions must be regrammed by the contest’s closing date, June 30. This contest is open to United States citizens only.  

Thanks to our friends at Shwood for getting involved with us on our latest Instagram contest and, more importantly, for staying true to their values. Creating unique goods with Earth-friendly materials is what we are all about and we are excited that other companies, like Shwood, are getting in on the action.

 

#LiveMarley Contest Winner: Jeremy Hopwood/Caravan Skate Shop

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Tyler Wright and Owen Wright Join Team Marley

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When looking for Team Marley members, we aren’t just looking for the most skilled and stylish at their craft. We want people who are committed to living life the way they want to live, while still respecting the earth and the community that surrounds them. That’s why we’re proud to announce the addition of two lifelong surfers, Tyler Wright and Owen Wright, to the ranks of Team Marley.

Born and bred surfing off the coast of Australia, Tyler and Owen got their start at an early age thanks to their older brother and father. The brother and sister duo’s dedication to surfing every single day has paid off as they have quickly risen through the ranks to become the hottest surfers on the ASP World Championship Tour.

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In addition to ripping up the ASP World Tour and repping our line of Earth-friendly headphones, watches, portable audio systems and Lively Up bags, the Wrights are also taking the time to give back. Recently, the duo taught a surfing clinic for kids in Northern New South Wales at the Hurley Australia High Performance Centre. Check out the video below of the Wrights teaching a new generation of rippers and offer them a warm welcome them to Team Marley:

Photo Credit: ASP World Tour and Jason Childs