How do art photography and skateboarding intersect? What is the connection between reviving communities and inviting skateboarding culture to the neighborhood?
|Photo Credit: SGL Summer Fitness Challenge 4141 Corp CEO Robert Ferguson in San Ramon|
I asked Robert Ferguson of 4141 Corp, a CEO who measures success according to a happiness index. He and his camp of youth skateboarders were spotted in San Ramon during the SGL Summer Fitness Campaign.
|Photo Credit: 4141 Corp|
He fosters a reputable, community-friendly platform that empowers youth to express themselves artistically and athletically. What’s one of his favorite collaborations that illustrates this artistic and athletic community-mindedness? Robert Ferguson references the “Life is Living” event in Oakland for its multi-cultural spectrum of expression from extreme bicycling to aerosol painting.
|Photo Credit: Youth Speaks Life is Living|
I ask Robert for more examples so I can imagine the sight and sound of what takes place in cooperation with his youth skateboarding camp. First, imagine how an art photographer might compose abstract images through his/her lens. Skateboarding with its random seeming contortions in the bowl and on rails can be viewed as an intricate dance. Next, add to this, a picture of musicians vocalizing layering song to accompany this dance. Lastly, envision urban fashion in harmony with aerosol painting. This is a living, vibrant community invigorated by its local creative youth.
What are obstacles that this 20-something CEO has overcome in his effort to build community through skateboarding culture? Besides managing skateboarding camps, Robert is a motivational speaker for youth audiences. The challenge is two-fold. First, youth need to be empowered to channel their positive energy. Secondly, the community needs be convinced that skateboarding culture is not synonymous with trouble-making. Interviewing Robert by phone, on an autumn Thursday he is articulate and contemplative in his answers.
SmartyFella Robert Ferguson, a San Francisco State college graduate, said that he was once a light troublemaker. What changed his path? Neighbors responding positively to his reputable entrepreneurship and allowing him to earn their trust with greater responsibility.
Robert mentors young skateboarders to accept community ownership: showing self-respect and respect to the neighborhood by calling out offenders with bad etiquette.
|Photo Credit: Linkedin Robert Ferguson CEO 4141 Corp|
At 9-years-old he managed a lawn-mowing enterprise in the neighborhood. These customers then entrusted him with dog-walking. By high school, Robert Ferguson was babysitting and teaching youth to skateboard with the full approval of community parents. Robert is trustworthy and a natural leader. In 2007, a small band of young kids looked to Robert as a role model even outside of the skatepark. That’s when Robert Ferguson listened to the parents of these youth and formalized his mentorship into 4141 Corp., with skateboarding camps that do so much more than keep youth out of trouble but bridge community with youth in all that is positive about urban living: art, music, and athleticism on asphalt.
Can non-parents and the over-21 set find intersections with Robert Ferguson’s mission? Absolutely. When I mentioned the recent East Bay Mini Maker Faire in Oakland, Robert sounded pleased. “Cool,” said Robert and you could hear that all these positive projects were in harmony with his own. 4141 Corp impacts happiness outside the borders of Oakland and San Francisco. In fact, look for future events in Redwood City and San Leandro. Don’t be surprised at all when you see Robert Ferguson’s friends (i.e. artists, musicians, extreme sport youth competitors and photographers) all building up the same community.
Eager to subscribe to his motivational speeches and youth skateboarding tutorials on YouTube? You will have to wait. Strategic thinker Robert, plans with his board this fall and winter for upcoming spring launches. If Robert will launch a YouTube Channel for 4141 Corp, he wants to meet and exceed community expectations by archiving and front-loading content so there will be no waiting for new uploads from one week to the next. Robert Ferguson is mentoring the next generation of artists and athletes with the blessing of communities starting at the skateboarding park. Still curious? Find one 4141 Corp clip from 2009.