Skate And Envoy! – Billy talks skating as diplomacy

[Applause] [Music] [Applause] hey you guys want to do it for me yeah and I just put it here in the front and clap it all right there you got this man my name is Billy O’Connor and I’m the public diplomacy officer out here at the u.s. embassy Copenhagen and just out here today with my buddies and a bunch of cool people and fellow parking talking about skateboarding sharing a little bit of American culture a little bit of my story I’m from Southern California from Carpinteria and Venice Beach those would be my two homes and really excited to bring some American skating talent out here this weekend bringing a Ben Hatcher and Lizzy Arman throw out the skate with a lot of our Danish friends and a lot of really heavy talent out here I’m sure they’re gonna have a fantastic time it was a yellow deck with pinkish red wheels I remember that thing I’d saved up my allowance for months to buy it we had absolutely no money and I wanted that skate deck so badly it is it’s funny to me now because I look at I look at these penny decks and all these so many people ride young people everybody and they Street these little fawn Street that’s called a penny deck and they look so much like what I grew up ridin long and skinny plastic harder harder wheels but that was about 1977 and I skated most of my most of my young years till about 1985 1986 I skated pretty seriously I was never never any any talent by any stretch and can ever Street skate like all these young people do now any Street skating idea it was just for just for transportation usually down to the beach to surf but skating was a really big big part of my life as he go as a young man as a young kid growing up in Southern California we were in kind of a socioeconomically marginalized area not a lot of money the skateboarding wasn’t necessarily a sport of privileged people back then it not to say that it is now but it was just an awful lot of fun and it was something that you didn’t need a whole lot of gear to do and a whole lot of parental supervision I’m a parental involvement we just skated basically from sunup to sundown with some nice breaks in between the surf skated a lot of a lot of good ramps I think the first company first real skateboards I started riding out that my huffy wasn’t a real one would probably be Santa Cruz and uh rs.15 great deck I think that’s what it was called and then I was riding a bar foot which was a company from right there in Santa Barbara area where I’m from and so yeah kind of local favorite on that and then I wrote a handful of Powell’s and a whole handful of Gators vision vision rode those decks Brand X and then on Southern California one of the companies that was really reigning supreme in the 80s there would have been dog town and just having spent a lot of time in Venice Beach as a kid that was a company that really resonated with me and some of the some of the true greats some of the legends you know this road for them and some people who really defined what the sport was what it is where it’s going hey thanks dude and a really real big influence watching some of those incredible talents you know both in the pool on the pipe just just incredible and you know life gets in the way it’s kind of hard to spend too much time skate and stuff when you have bills to pay and so I kind of put it away States skated again a little bit when my children were born my son Dale my daughter and Ivy both of them can skate quite well both started around around 4 when we were living in Estonia I had them out at the park with me and nothing serious but you know they’re they’re good my little girl was comfortable on the halfpipe my little boys a little probably better than she is on the street but she was better on the halfpipe on the end that got me kind of going again not taking it too seriously but just going out and having a good time by that point I felt a little well I could feel all those old injuries I had from back in the day a lot of arthritis and everything else came on when I moved here to Copenhagen about two and a half years ago started skating this fella park in here which is by 9 my neighborhood of Istanbul and just absolutely absolutely loved it it’s a top-flight park and the vibe is so incredibly nice you get great young people great older people on this pipe right over here is where I fell and broke my hip that just it wasn’t like a dramatic hip break it was just a good fracture and all this and that kind of took the wind out of my sails a little bit but I still skate a little bit you know still come out here to enjoy this snake that’s here behind me and hit these roll ends and stuff and have a good time it’s such a genuine genuine privilege and honor to be able to share the aspects of my culture I’m one of the cultural guys at the Embassy and to be able to share the aspects of my culture that with people that are so into it and so loved it and like I said America is no monopoly on fantastic skateboards I don’t mean that for a minute I just mean it’s so cool to come out in the culture I grew up with you know being lowriders and fantastic Mexican food and skating and surfing and to bring as much of that here as I possibly can you affect the dialogue you affect the conversation because people begin to realize that every Nations made up of individuals and all different tastes different hobbies different ideas and when you can start to share them you really see that human connection and it is at the end of the day it’s those healing connections at all diplomas he’s built on you know not every bit of diplomacy in the world can be forged in the boardroom in a meeting room between ministers there’s cultural diplomacy this is talking people to people and sharing what we like getting the authentic Danish experience getting the authentic Southern California explorer all right yeah it’s up to you to make me look Dees I’m gonna take a pass or two all right

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