sml wheels

sml. Wheels x SkatePAL Promo

Check out the promo video for our new collaboration with sml. Wheels - featuring sml. riders Chris Jones and Sammy Montano! 

The sml. x SkatePAL wheel is available in all good skate stores globally and online (North America) here

A portion of the sales from this wheel will go towards SkatePAL's ongoing work; building skateparks and teaching skateboarding to young people in Palestine.

The sml. x SkatePAL wheel is distributed in the UK by Rock Solid Distribution

Don't forget to check out our interview with Aaron Brown (sml) and designer Ariel Wilson here.

Many thanks to all the people that put a lot of time and effort into making this video happen - special thanks to Chris Jones, Rowan Biddiscombe, Sammy Montano and Aaron Brown. 

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Artwork: Ariel Wilson - arielwilson.com

Video: Shade Media - shademedia.co.uk

Audio: Sounds Like These - soundslikethese.com

SkatePAL Summer Jam
Gillet Square 2016

We're combining forces with Parlour Skate Store to bring you this year's Summer Jam! All proceeds go towards our ongoing work supporting skateboarding and youth development in Palestine. Read on to find out what's in store...

Sunday 14th August // 11am - 7pm // Gillett Square, Dalston N16 8JN.

What to expect:

- Wizard Sleeve and NTS DJs serving up a summer soundtrack of reggae, funk, soul & hip hop. (Sound System courtesy of Pig & Rig).

- Deliciously juicy burgers courtesy of RAD Burger.

- Game of S.K.A.T.E - £2 entry with prizes for winners

- Raffle - win prizes from: Keen Distribution, Quasi, Polar, The National Skate Company, SML Wheels, Ninja Tune, NTS Radio and Hiba Restaurant. 

- Beginners skate lessons available 

- Merch & information stalls 

**This is a free event, but don't forget - all the money we raise is going directly to help build more skateparks for children in Palestine** 

If you can't make it to the event, fear not! You can make a donation at www.skatepal.co.uk/donate

Got any spare skate equipment lying around? Bring it to the jam and donate it to the next generation of Palestinian skaters! 

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Schedule:

11am - 12pm: Beginners skate lessons

12pm: Skate jam opens

1pm - 3pm: Game of S.K.A.T.E

3pm - 7pm: Skate Jam continues.  

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Please check out our sponsors and supporters, we couldn't do this without them!

Parlour Skate Store - www.parlourskatestore.co.uk

Keen Distribution - www.keendist.co.uk

Rad Burger - www.radburger.co

Pig & Rig - www.pigandrig.co.uk

Gillet Square - www.gillettsquare.org.uk

Facebook event - https://www.facebook.com/events/1186330931385207/

Check out the video from last year's jam, filmed by Rowan from Shade Media

SML Wheels Interview
Aaron & Ariel Wilson

To celebrate the launch of our new collaboration with SML Wheels, we chatted to Aaron Brown (SML) and artist Ariel Wilson, to find out what drives their work and what inspired them to get involved with SkatePAL. 

Aaron Brown Interview

Tell us about the history of SML, when did you guys start out and what was the idea behind it? 

I feel like the history of SML is kinda long so I'll keep it short. I've always had random companies since I was in Jr High. Once I got into High School I started working at Liberty Boardshop and saw a whole new world of skateboarding. I was so fresh haha. Liberty is where I met everyone. At one point James, Austyn, Rob, and myself have all worked there.

Once I got a job at Liberty I started hanging and filming a bunch with James Craig, Gershon Mosley, Danny Garcia, and Ronnie Creager.  Once Austyn was old enough (13) we let him start cruising with us. too We would make these crew videos called "Razor Sharp" and have a party for the premiere when somebody's parents went out of town. After hanging/ filming with James long enough I turned into the Blind filmer, James and I would pretty much skate every day all day together. 

Fast forward a couple years, James and I are skating/ filming and are having a really good day. He gets some tricks and we decide to call it and give our friends a call to play poker. We all meet up at James house. This is before your emails went straight to your phone and I remember James would check his email everyday as soon as we walked in the door from skating. So we're all in a good mood starting to get the cards out, grabbing beers and stuff and I just see James' face changing as he's reading an email. He let's us all read it and its this super generic office space-type email thanking him for his services at Bones wheels and saying that he wasn't needed anymore. It was straight copy and paste style.

We later got to the bottom of it and there was a certain Bones rider who didn't think James was "Elite" enough. A couple days later one of our friends that rode for Bones told them he was going to quit because they kicked off James, Bones called James and asked him back on the team but it was too late we already started brewing up SML. I think James still has that email haha. 

Chris Jones, Hippie Jump in Athens. Photo: Sam Ashley

Chris Jones, Hippie Jump in Athens. Photo: Sam Ashley

You've got a pretty diverse and heavy hitting team, with Chris Jones and Tom Knox holding down the London connection - how did you guys all meet and get involved together? 

Yea its pretty much my dream team of skateboarding minus a few. I love all these dudes styles, tricks, spots they do the tricks at, and just the overall way they look at skateboarding. As for the London crew, Chris Jones was the first London dude we got on the team. That happened through Wes at Rock Solid. Wes shares a similar perspective on skateboarding as us and knows what we like. He showed us some footy and I passed it around to the team and they were down. Tom came on after Chris, to be honest I'm not sure if Chris or Wes talked to him or if he reached out but I'm super stoked that he's on.

Mike Arnold is the latest guy on the team and is from the London area [Bristol - ed.] as well. All these dudes are so fun to watch. I trip out everyday when I see the people that ride for SML.

What made you want to do the SkatePAL wheel? Did you know much about Palestine or the charity before getting involved?

We're always down to give back to skateboarding any way we can. Us being a small company its hard for us to do that sometimes. Chris brought SkatePAL to our attention and let us know what you guys do and that he's a part of it. He thought it could be cool to do something together. Any time a team rider brings something to my attention that is important to them I'm always down to try and make it happen. We all got copied on an email and it just went from there. Now we got a rad wheel collaboration and some new friends! 

Is this a full time job for you? What are you up to when you're not working on SML?

SML is a full time job but we have yet to pay ourselves haha. It takes up a considerable amount of time and everything just goes back into the back account for the next season or whatever comes up in between. I'm really lucky that I'm able find work in the skate industry. When I'm not working on SML I'm usually filming or editing, thats how I pay my bills.

I mostly film and edit skateboarding stuff for different companies, but I've done a bunch of random stuff. I do behind the scenes stuff for Snoop, a lot of videos for Rastaclat, some stuff of models, I did this 13 day time lapse for this artist DFACE which was pretty fun. I was doing some stuff for this headphones company for a bit so we'd shoot a lot of NBA players. Went to Eddie Murphy's house to shoot a little Christmas video of him and his family. It's all random and fun. 

What is the importance of 'play' to you? Both in your work and the world in general… 

It's kinda hard for me to put into words. I'm fortunate enough that my work is my play and play is my work. I'd go crazy if there wasn't an element of fun to everything I do, that's what keeps me going. New, fun, and exciting. I guess you could say everyday is a Monday or everyday is a Saturday depending on how you look at it haha.

What's next for SML?

Next for SML is just trying to put more work and energy into it. I feel like we could do so much more that this is only the beginning. Everyone in the SML family is stoked and ready.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Have fun, be happy.

Ariel and Olive in the studio

Ariel Wilson Interview

Tell us about your background - how did you end up getting involved with designing skate wheels and what's your link to SML?

I’m a freelance illustrator/designer based out of Long Beach, California. Working freelance has been great because I get to work in a lot of different modes, and with a lot of different people. I got involved with SML after Aaron saw my work on Instagram and reached out to me. The brand seemed like a natural fit for my work and they are all really great guys so I was grateful and excited to work with them. When I’m not working from home I teach art to residents of a treatment centre for at-risk and special needs youth. I also try to squeeze in time for personal projects and painting. I’m never bored and get to live off of my favourite hobby so I’m thrilled.

You obviously do a lot of pretty varied work, including wheels, board designs but lots of stuff outside skateboarding too. Where does your inspiration come from for your designs? 

I’m really drawn to work that has a story or a unique point of view, and most of my stuff has an underlying narrative quality. I love storytellers. In keeping with that I’m really inspired by folklore, personal or communal histories, and memories. Most of the work I do outside of the skate industry is for non-profits or small businesses. 

What's different or difficult about designing for a skate wheel over doing something for print etc?

So much! Any time you are designing something you have an allotted amount of design “real estate” to work with, and the real estate for wheels can be tricky for me. For one thing they are small, or in this case SML (sorry couldn’t resist) which means you can’t get crazy with tiny detail that won’t translate well in printing, and on top of that there’s a hole in the middle of the design. Most of my work tends to fit in a perfect square so designing in a circle is a fun challenge.

What made you want to get involved with the SkatePAL wheel. Did you know much about Palestine or the charity before getting involved?

I do a lot of illustration work based on different cities/cultures, primarily because it creates a situation where I have to do mini research projects on different places around the world. It’s like a fun homework assignment for me to learn about stuff I might not otherwise. I try to take all that research and translate it into simplified icons that are easily recognised by people that know the place well, while also easily understood by people who don’t know the place. I didn’t know about SkatePAL prior to working on the wheel. When asked to design something for you guys it seemed like a fun opportunity to do a little research, but this time for a great cause rather than for my own amusement. Win Win.

What are you up to next?

I’ve spent the last 6 months working on making an art book that explores the relationship between skateboarding and art. In the first half of the book I Interviewed some of my favourite artists who skate, and included images of their work. The second half of the book is a collection of collaborations between me and a few skate photographers. I made gouache paintings from their photographs and then fused painting/photo together. Right now I’m working on finalising edits on the first proof, and trying to organise an art show/book release somewhere in Long Beach by the end of summer. Aside from that, lots of fishing and camping.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I think kids having an outlet/mode of expression is one of the most important things in helping them grow into well rounded and thoughtful adults. So I admire and respect the work that you guys are doing and am grateful to be involved! Cheers, Ariel.

Thanks Aaron & Ariel! 

Join us for the SkatePAL x SML Wheels launch event at Brixton's Baddest Skateshop, this Thursday 6th July, 7pm.

The SkatePAL x SML wheel will be available in the UK via Rock Solid Distribution. A portion of sales from the wheel will go towards helping us build more skateparks in Palestine.

Look out for the SkatePAL x SML Wheels edit coming soon!

www.instagram.com/smlwheels

www.instagram.com/arielnwilson

SkatePAL x SML Wheels Launch Show

We're very excited to announce the launch of our very own SkatePAL wheel in collaboration with SML Wheels

Join us for the launch event featuring an exhibition of photos about SkatePAL's work in the West Bank, accompanying illustrations by SML artist Ariel Wilson and an article focusing on the play elements of SkatePAL’s work.

The new SkatePAL x SML wheel will be available to buy on the night in Brixton’s Baddest. A portion of sales from this wheel will help us build more skateparks in Palestine. 

Photography by Emil Agerskov
Illustrations by Ariel Wilson
Article by Dani Abulhawa
Supported by Rock Solid Distribution.

Join the Facebook event

Thursday 7th July // 7pm // Brixton's Baddest Skate Shop, (inside Pop Brixton), London.

Volunteer Interview:
Chris Jones

Feeble to fakie. Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Feeble to fakie. Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Chris Jones is a great skateboarder and all round good guy. Originally from South Wales but now residing in South London, Chris first got involved in SkatePAL as a volunteer in 2014 when he applied to help build the Zebabdeh skatepark and teach classes in Ramallah.

Since then, he's been helping with fundraising events for SkatePAL in London, travelling the world filming with Isle skateboards for their new video 'Vase', working in the Natural History Museum and building skateparks in both Palestine and Myanmar, all whilst finding time to run the Pickup Or Die Instagram account. 

We caught up with Chris on his way back from Bangkok to chat about skatepark construction, the Isle video, and why he'll keep coming back to volunteer with SkatePAL.

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

So this was your second time in the West Bank with SkatePAL, what made you want to get involved originally? How did you find out about the charity?

I originally found out about SkatePAL through one of my friends at the pub who knew Charlie's brother. I ended up looking it up and it sounded like a really interesting charity with a good focus. I found out there was a project coming up. It was all last minute but I contacted Charlie asking if it was possible to come out. Luckily he said yes.

How long did you spend in Zebabdeh and Asira Al-Shamaliya? What was the difference between working on both skateparks?

During my first visit in 2014 I was mainly back and fourth between Ramallah and Zebabdeh. In total I spent about one month there. This time, I stayed a bit longer and was in Asira the whole time. There were quite a few differences between the Zebabdeh and Asira projects.

One of the main differences was the amount of people we had on site. Unfortunately, Israel launched operation Protective Edge just before the Zebabdeh project was due to start which meant there were a lot of things in the news about bombings in Gaza. This put some people off coming out which meant we were severely understaffed. As a result, we had no choice but to work a lot of long hours with little time off. Although there were still many long hours involved during the Asira build, having more volunteers meant there were days people could take time off and go do some other things elsewhere around the West Bank. 

Volcano ollie at Zebabdeh skatepark, 2014. Photo: Martin O Grady

Volcano ollie at Zebabdeh skatepark, 2014. Photo: Martin O Grady

Although a lot of the kids got on fine In Zebabdeh, there was definitely more altercations between some of the kids compared to in Asira, which was non existent as far as I am aware of. At the beginning these altercations were very testing and sometimes made running some of the classes quite difficult. The language barrier made these situations even more difficult and left the responsibility of finding out what exactly was wrong in the hands of Charlie and Finn (who both speak Arabic), as they were the only two who could ever understand and mediate between the kids.  

Despite some initial interpretations of these altercations possibly being a result of the mixed religious composition of the Zebabdeh community (which is both Christian and Muslim), it was more likely it was a simple case of older kids giving the smaller ones a harder time. Either way, as the project progressed all of the kids in Zebabdeh, no matter their religious background, eventually started to play together and get on.

One thing I can say for certain is that there was a difference between Zebabdeh and Asira in terms of the religious demographic, and this affected certain things such as the availability of alcohol. Zebaddeh is mixed, Christian and Muslim, so they sold and drank alcohol, whereas Asira was a dry community, not including a nearby Samaritan village near Nablus where you could drink.

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

How has the charity evolved since you first got involved?

It's evolved a lot. The Zebabdeh park was the first concrete skatepark SkatePAL ever built so it was obvious the second one was going to be to a higher standard. Beyond the quality of the build improving, since the first project there has been various articles and videos about SkatePAL’s work which has helped spread awareness of the charity, meaning more people are now aware of it. The increased presence on social media has helped as well. It would be nice to see it carry on growing.

What were your preconceptions of Palestine before arriving? How much did you know about Israel / Palestine before your first trip? 

I really didn't know what to expect the first time I went. I had never been to an Arab country before so couldn’t really imagine what it would be like. I had obviously read and watched stuff about Israel and Palestine so was aware of the occupation and knew a bit about the situation, but was definitely slightly unsure as to what exactly was going on. Just before I went in 2014 there was a lot of media attention in Palestine due to the conflict, and I'd be lying if I wasn't slightly put off going during this time and thought maybe I was being a bit naive by going during this period but I'm so glad I did.

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo:  Lily Hartmann

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Lily Hartmann

How did your ideas change across the two trips?

To be honest, I was not expecting how severe the level of occupation was going to be in the West Bank, which only seems to be getting worse. I had an idea what it would be like from reading and watching documentaries about it but after travelling around seeing the settlements, checkpoints and overall presence of the IDF it was definitely a lot worse than I expected. Once you start talking to people and hearing their stories about the occupation it's shocking to learn about how much it affects everyday life and how violated Palestinians' human rights really are.

One thing I did not expect when arriving in Asira this time was that it would be difficult for men to teach the girls. In previous trips the restrictions were not as noticeable as in Asira which is a more traditional town than Zebabdeh. We also only had two female volunteers this year, Lily and Dani, and it was left to them to run skate workshops for large groups of girls who showed a strong interest in skateboarding. It would be great if more women volunteered for SkatePAL in future projects to help if this situations arises again.

My ideas of the general way of life have definitely changed during my visits. At the beginning of my first visit I remember it being a nightmare trying to get the correct materials and equipment on time so the project could begin. The “inshallah” (translated as 'God Willing') way of life was definitely something I was not so used to and could be very frustrating on days when you would just be sat around waiting for materials to arrive.

However, I’d say I grew to appreciate the relaxed approach of getting things done which I would once just have recognised as laziness, even if it means a task which would usually take a couple of hours can be stretched over a number of days. 

Switch wallie at Qalandia checkpoint, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Switch wallie at Qalandia checkpoint, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov

Before visiting I had a stupid preconception in the back of mind that there would be a degree of hostility from members of the public towards British citizens as a result of the history of the area and the neglect they may feel on an international level. 

Despite me being slightly unsure whether I should say my nationality when I first arrived I soon realised this stupid thought didn't matter, as the majority of Palestinian people I’ve met are some of the most welcoming, kindest and inspiring people, and me being British was never even an issue in the slightest. When you walk around in smaller towns you are constantly invited in to peoples homes for tea, coffee or lunch with their families which is a lovely part of Palestinian culture.

Pivot fakie. Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. 

Pivot fakie. Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. 

What made you want to come back? 

The cheap Easy Jet flights to a hot country man, how else am I going to work on this sweet tan! Nah just joking. After I left Palestine the first time and went home to my comfortable lifestyle after meeting people, making new friends and witnessing the level of human rights violations I was constantly thinking about the place and reading about Palestine in the news, so naturally felt an urge to go back. These projects are always really fun and I was still really into the charity after the first project and wanted to see how we would get on in a second one, so couldn’t refuse to go after I heard there was going to be another build. It also helps that the food is banging and I love falafel and kanafeh (hot sweets made with cheese).

Why do you think skateboarding is important for people in places like the West Bank? 

As a form of play I think it's really good for kids and young adults in the West Bank because of a number of reasons. This will naturally sound a bit cheesy but I think its a great outlet for stress. It can be the most enjoyable thing when you're out with friends having fun and messing about on a piece of wood. I definitely find it can take my mind off things and the various little stresses I may have going on in my life at the time, and this would definitely be a useful thing for a child in a stressful place like the West Bank. Also, I definitely know it works as a great way to meet new friends from different parts of the world and within the country in which you're based. 

The benefits of meeting friends from outside your town serves a host of benefits, especially for a child in the West Bank who may never leave their little town. Skateboarding is also a new activity in the West Bank so is not gender specific, which means that girls who are perhaps not included in a lot of sports could ride a skateboard. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see boys and girls skating together and Palestinian kids skating with Israeli kids.

Skateboarding definitely helps a child’s development both physically and mentally by providing exercise and a healthy way of life, which is especially important in a place like the West Bank where there aren't many fun things for young people to do.

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. 

Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. 

Photos: Emil Agerskov

Photos: Emil Agerskov

So the long-awaited Isle video, Vase has just come out - congrats on the last part! Were you surprised? Where are you know? What are your plans for the next year?

Thanks! Yeah it was definitely a nice surprise to find out I had last part. I've never closed a video so was stoked. We went straight on a little Isle trip afterwards premiering the video around England which was so much fun. Currently, I’m sat in Bangkok airport with 10 hours to kill before I fly back to London from the Pushing Myanmar skatepark build with Make Life Skate Life. I’ve got loads of ideas for next year but don’t want to jinx them. I guess in general I’ll be skating, trying to get involved in some more skatepark builds and hopefully doing stuff for SkatePAL at some point. Beyond that it's all up in the air.

How was it going from building a skatepark in Palestine to building one in Myanmar straight after?

Yeah it was really fun. Again I had the pleasure of meeting a load of really nice people and got the chance to do a solid bit of graft and learn some new things about skatepark construction. This was the first park I've worked on when I was actually around for the opening day so that was really fun. The kids seem to love it and the local skaters also seemed stoked. I know they are still in the process of figuring out a system for someone to man the loaner boards for the kids and to run classes, but the project was definitely a success.

You're obviously travelling a lot on different skate trips and stuff, how do you balance your life between skating, living and working on these sorts of skatepark projects?

For the projects I've been involved in the timing has just worked out quite well really. For last year's project with SkatePAL I actually had to quit my job in order to get the time to come. I'd had enough of it at that point anyway so timed in quite well. For the last few months I actually haven't really had a proper job either which means I have a lot of flexibility. I've been doing work here and there, volunteering and doing unpaid work for periods of time but I've been able to time things quite well which has meant I haven't had to sacrifice too much to be involved in these projects. I did have to miss the first few days of building in Myanmar as I was on that Isle tour, but managed to be there for the majority of the time so all is good.

Video: Chris takes a break from building to test out the new obstacles in Asira Al-Shamaliya.

Do you have any plans to come back with SkatePAL in the future?

Definitely, I would like to be as involved and help as much as I can in any future projects. I've got a lot of support for the charity and would like to see it grow.

What would you say to people who are considering volunteering with SkatePAL?

Do it! 

How many Abecs do your bearings have?

Not too sure, I have a mix of bearings I've accumulated over time. Probably a combination of 5 and 7.

Thanks Chris!

Chris is sponsored by Isle, SML Wheels, Lost Art and Nike.

The Isle video Vase is out now and available for digital download at: https://vase.vhx.tv/

Follow Chris on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/chris_jones

https://www.instagram.com/pickupordie