Forward Living DIY’s “Do It With Friends”

Something special has been brewing in Madison Wisconsin for the past five years, and we’re not talking about beer (that’s Milwaukee). You may have caught glimpses on instagram via Marbie and Leon and other IG feeds, but Preston Moses Clopton recently gifted the world with a beautiful video collage of this unique Midwestern skate community and the “Forward Living” DIY skatepark. 


Creating your own scene seems complicated but in essence, is pretty simple. Start doing cool shit that you’re passionate about and like-minded folks will show up. This is an active, diverse, talented group of skaters proving proving it isn’t necessary to move to Oakland or Portland to find a progressive scene. With a little sweat and determination, It is possible to create one right in your backyard.  -Migz


1. What is “Forward Living” and when did it start? 


Forward Living DIY or just “Forward” is a diy spot here in Madison, Wisconsin that started about 5 years ago this summer. 


2. What is the skate scene in Madison like?


It’s pretty sick! It’s bigger and more diverse than where I was in Iowa, which is rad. The whole Midwest has its own weird dynamic to it. The older generations of skaters in the midwest, Madison included, on top of being far from the industry had a lack of decent parks for a long time so the older skaters tend to be big time fanatics and lifers with a lot of motivation and skills to pass on. We’ve got a couple great skate shops, some famous street spots and since we’re only an hour from Milwaukee there’s cool energy flowing in and out of the scene all the time.


3. Are most of the key holders Madison Locals? Have you all known each other for a long time?


I think most of us are from Madison and the surrounding areas but myself, Marbie and Lyle all came from neighboring towns in Iowa over the last 3 years. Leon and Donut have been at Forward since the start. But people come and go, as someone moves away another person visits, falls in love with the place and becomes a keyholder themself.


4. It seems like “Do It With Friends” (DIWF) is the name of this video, but also a mantra. What does DIWF mean to you?


Yeah, it is! I think the phrase is great because it’s not just literally what we’re doing but it’s indicative that we’re tying to foster this welcoming, friendly energy into our DIY work, which can traditionally be kind of gatekeepey.


5. What happens on a typical night at “Forward Living?”


Every day is different, really. Depending on active projects and who’s around, some combination of skating, working, traveling to other spots and having bonfires.


Listen, let go of control, and act and communicate with intention. When 1 finger points, 3 point back, so don't blame. Don't let feelings fester, share them and work thru conflict, your relationships will be stronger. You're not always right. Share expectations right away so people can agree to them or not. The process is the product so do things in a way that aligns with your community's values. Talk about and establish community values. Everyone has something to bring and being an 'expert' at something does not make you more valuable. Make space for everyone to speak and don't interrupt. Respect people's identities and pronouns. Practice the end of our meetings, we go around and say what we are grateful for and it's a wonderful feeling. Believe in yourself and each other.