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Beyond the Board- Breaking the Barrier in the Long-boarding to Create Community - Part 1

Brandon DesJarlais (@desgnarlais) and Brooke Johnson (@itsbrookejohnson), of Los Angeles,CA are avid longboarders who like to bring the sport into the community. Brandon has been longboarding since he was a child and became well known in the boarding industry from downhill longboard racing to longboard dance competitions around the world. He started creating weekly videos called “Trick-Tip Tuesday” to teach people how to longboard at a distance. Brooke is a leader in the women’s empowerment movement to encourage women to break the glass ceiling and works with companies such as Seek Discomfort and the Yes Theory. She has recently started longboarding after meeting Brandon and has pushed her limits to become a strong woman on a board. Once COVID started to slow down, Brandon and Brooke started teaching longboarding in person down in Santa Monica, CA. The group started with a couple people, but rapidly grew to 50+ people each week.

One weekend in February, they took a journey along with Natalie Pluto (@nataliepluto) from Venice Beach to the border of Mexico, stretching 160+ miles on board. According to Brooke “The purpose of this trip was to inspire young women to find the courage to try something new and be bold. Oftentimes women (and men) limit their own potential based on negative self-talk and false beliefs that they’re not capable. It’s easy to live in comfort, but we’re here to break the norm and challenge the status of living life fearlessly and seek discomfort (@seekdiscomfort).”

From multiple comments on their videos and posts on social media, Brandon and Brooke started to realize a huge gap in the industry; many people want to board, but don’t know where to start. Brooke states “We quickly realized there are countless people wanting to try longboarding but are often too intimidated by their fears to give it a try. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of feeling out of place.” This striked curiosity, driving Brandon and Brooke to think bigger.

In June, Brooke and Brandon were brainstorming ways to bring their longboarding knowledge to other cities, to bridge the gap between beginners and professionals. Brandon says “By offering free rental gear and developing a culture that focuses on small wins and encouragement. We can lower the barrier to entry and make learning how to longboard more accessible.” With the overwhelming support and excitement around what they were doing, the only logical option was to purchase an old 2001 school bus, convert it into the “Shred Sled”, and embark on a 6 week tour around the USA to host events and create videos that empower people with confidence and community that go beyond the board.” They decided to start on the West Coast, calling the tour Beyond the Board (@goingbeyondtheboard).

After purchasing the bus, the remodel began. They drove the bus up to Oregon, where Issac Turner (@issacturnerit), aka Skooliana, would take 30 days to build a unique tiny home inside the bus. This build brought together a variety of friends and other bus owners to have all hands on deck including myself Rachel Gray (@raygrayco), Jaylena Dunn (@leaveherwildyt) and Tifanie Mayberry (@tifaniemayberry). Jaylena is a youtuber who has been living the bus life for the past year, learning the ins and outs of building a bus, and teaching others along the way. Tifanie has been part time van life for 4 years, renting hers out for extra income while finishing up med school. She is currently on sabbatical in Costa Rica for the past year where she does hair and acupuncture while enjoying moto, yoga and surfing, so we were lucky enough to have her join the bus build.

Early August Brooke and Brandon returned to the bus and drove to Seattle, Washington where they met with KidWiseman (@kidwiseman) who painted the exterior of the bus in his signature bright bold colors, making the bus easy to recognize. KidWiseman helps connect young highschool students who are interested in photo, video, art, and storytelling, to real world artists. Giving them the opportunity to make art of their own with their preferred tools. Kid strives to teach students how to learn outside of the classroom, by employing them on his projects.

They flew Caden Weatherly (@cadenweatherly) and aDesh Raman (@adeshraman) to join this adventure, to assist with driving and creating content for the tour. Caden is a photographer and videographer from Los Angeles, who’s passionate about taking moments and making them into memories through the lens. He worked as the DP for a youtube channel called Team Edge, where he learned a lot of new skills and was able to apply them to his experience, making him a perfect fit for Beyond the Board.

The tour events included city skate scavenger hunts, longboard dancing lessons for riders of all levels, meet ups with local skate shops, skate sessions of all disciplines, and (most importantly) women’s and LGBTQAI+ meetups.

The special thing about what they are doing is all the events were 100% FREE and open to the public. Their goal is to uplift new riders and welcome them into the community by cultivating a safe space to learn and express.

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