Author: Janie Barber
“THE GOAL OF OUR WORK IS TO INSPIRE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE THROUGH POSITIVE ACTIVITIES, POSITIVE ADULTS AND POSITIVE COMMUNITIES.”
The Bay: Skatepark. Outreach program. Community safeplace. National movement. Coffee shop. Concert venue. And they’re just getting started.
Pulling into the parking lot, you can’t miss the funky, modern building that stands out from its industrial surroundings. The Bay has two entrances, one for the skatepark and one for the coffee shop. Considering the fact that I might be the least capable skater this fine planet has to offer, I chose the safe route and went in the coffee shop side. Surrounded by exposed piping, a stage made of stacked 2-by-4’s, and natural lighting, my first impression was that I had just walked into someone’s ultra-modern loft. Though the design is industrial, it has a warmth to it that is unlike any other coffee house in Lincoln.
Warmth beyond the aesthetic of the design was tripled by the genuine greeting I got from the incredible people that work there. All of this stands beside the fact that their coffee is INCREDIBLE.
Other than the classics like espresso, Americano or a latté, you’ll be treated to a completely unique coffee experience. Specialty drinks rotate through the menu based on season, each one sure to blow your mind. Around this time of year, you can cozy up with a cup of “Sweet Babe” which has maple, espresso, bacon simple syrup and milk or, if you’re a Christmas freak like me, you’ll love the “Can’t Catch Me” which is made with gingerbread syrup, fresh nutmeg, espresso and milk.
If you walk through the door to the right of the coffee bar, you’ll see that the coffee shop side of The Bay is just a small branch of who they are as a whole. Functioning as a non-profit and 100% privately funded, a huge part of The Bay is the skate park which makes up half of the space. Like I said, I don’t know much about skateboarding, but they offer what has to be a skateboarder’s dream. This is the beautifully unique marriage found only across Antelope Parkway at The Bay.
Sitting at a table next to the skatepark, cold-brew coffee (infused with nitrogen) in hand, I had the opportunity to interview Shayne Pearson, Program Coordinator, and got the whole story behind this incredible addition to the Lincoln community.
TS: How did you guys get started?
SP: So we started out in the shopping mall, and we had a tiny little skatepark in Gateway Mall, like right next to Sears.
We started out in 2010, and we really just wanted to give young people specifically a spot that was safe and positive to go and do something they love, and for us as skateboarders decided that was a good place to start.
TS: How did you guys go from the mall to this?
SP: Kinda through some random things with Red Bull. Mike Smith, who founded the place, got connected to Ryan Sheckler and the Sheckler Foundation. He came out, did a demo, invited Mike to go out to this celebrity golf tournament, and Mike made this 60-foot putt…Mike doesn’t golf.
Luck, fate, whatever it is, he made this putt and won $25,000 and that kinda gave us what we needed to move out of the mall and make this place a reality.
TS: Getting Ryan Sheckler involved had to have been amazing.
SP: Well and through that Sheckler actually came out and helped us open this, helped us run this big contest to kick it off.
TS: So Sheckler’s involvement and connections had a huge roll in what The Bay is today.
SP: Yeah, that was a big part of what gave us initial exposure. Yeah that was in 2012 when he came out.
TS: Is this a national movement or is everything local right now?
SP: The Bay is just in Lincoln, but when we were in the mall we started something called Skate for Change. It started as this low-key thing where we would all meet once a week and go downtown and hand out whatever we had to the homeless community. It grew from Lincoln and then it was happening in Omaha, and then it was happening in Chicago, then Seattle, and a lot of that is because again, Sheckler got behind it really pushing it and talking about it.
The Skate for Change movement is now in 110 cities around the world.
TS: What made you all want to add the coffee shop side to the skatepark?
SP: Yeah, so when we were in the mall we saw an opportunity to do more than just skateboarding. We started to look at subcultures within the community, like what subcultures need a little love and could really make an impact in people’s lives, which ones don’t have those resources. For us we’re looking at Skateboarding, then music, the arts and then now coffee. So it was just this idea we had in the Mall that maybe we could incorporate this all into one space and then leverage it as a tool to create opportunities, build community and just create a positive environment for change.
TS: Does the coffee shop fund the skatepark?
SP: Part of it. So what we do is every aspect of the bay has the ability to generate profit, and that profit goes into our programming costs and of course the startup cost as well. A piece of it goes toward our partnership with Community Health Endowment where we give out all-access passes to public schools so a social worker or a counselor gets to give those out to kids at their discretion- whether they need a positive place to be. In some situations like when a kid’s living at the city mission and his mom doesn’t get off work until six and they need a spot for him to go, it serves all these different purposes.
TS: How is it set up?
SP: What’s really cool about how it’s set up is they come, they check in, they get engaged in this place for free but they check in the same way anybody else does, so it really preserves their dignity.
They get to skateboard for free, free equipment, free entry into concerts, free coffee and now we’re working on getting a nightly meal program set up for these kids or really anyone who needs it.
TS: So tell me about the concert venue aspect of The Bay.
SP: Yeah so right now we host a concert every Saturday night, and we are the only venue in Lincoln that’s all ages, all the time. We can keep shows really cheap and make them really accessible so typically is just $5 and we’re really trying to keep it there. We feature local bands, some of our friend’s bands that are touring through Lincoln. We’re still in the process of growing that area, but our main goal will still be to provide opportunities for new musicians to engage and showcase what they’re doing.
TS: What genre is featured?
SP: It’s everything, all across the board. We’ve been doing the concerts for three months and we’ve had hip-hop, bluegrass, punk, we haven’t had our hardcore show yet so i’m holding out for that, January 7th we have a hardcore show lined up.
TS: How do people get involved with the community work The Bay does?
SP: Honestly the best way to get involved is to come down and get a coffee, see a show, support the cause and just GENUINELY get to know people for who they are.
TS: Do you see a unique demographic coming into the coffee shop as well as the skatepark?
SP: For sure, and there’s a big overlap you know from skateboarders, to the coffee shop community, to musicians to artists there’s this red thread of creativity that connects everyone and it’s really a special place.
For more information on The Bay and what they do, all you have to do is go in and see for yourself!
The Bay is located at 2005 Y St, Lincoln, NE 68503
Visit their website at http://www.thebay.org