Scott Greathouse is like a lot of 40-year-old guys who live in Santa Cruz, California. He grew up skateboarding and his family hasn’t replaced that passion so much as grown around it. So, when a buddy needed to get rid of a mini ramp, Greathouse leapt at the chance to help him out. When he noticed that part of ramp was going to create an odd-shaped eyesore in his yard, he designed a way to turn it into a playhouse for his one and 5-year-old sons. And when he realized that his job driving a cement truck wasn’t providing quite enough spare cash to make the whole project a reality, he applied to the Fatherly Fund. Then you voted for him to win the fund’s November grant of $1,000, and now he’s off and running. Or, skating.
This whole thing started with a skateboard mini ramp that you inherited – what’s the story there?
It was a friend of mine’s who’s a mid-40s skateboarder. His son is 10 and he basically built this ramp for his son because he hoped his son would be bit by the skate bug. Turns out, he was bit by the baseball bug, so the ramp sat in the yard for a few years. It was beautiful – 6-feet tall, 20-feet wide and extremely well built because he was a professional ramp builder. In our yard, we’re limited with space, and the original ramp was too large. I was talking with a neighbor of mine who has a couple of kids, and he ended up taking 8 feet of the ramp and I took the other 12 feet. So, now there are 2 mini ramps in a one-block radius, which is so, so cool.
So, the ramp originally fell victim to a disinterested kid. What’s your 5-year-old’s relationship to skating?
He’s been skating with me, he likes it when the board is propelled by someone else. So, I’ll put him between my feet and skate with him that way. What’s cool about introducing the ramp is that it will keep the kids in the neighborhood off the one-lane street we live on and give them something to do. But I don’t push anything on Brandon – if it strikes him as fun and he wants to skate, that’s awesome. If not, he can play with his cars on it. The thing is, I work a lot and when I get home there’s not a lot of time to grab skate stuff and go anywhere. With the ramp, he’ll get to see me skate, and I think that will be a leading by example kind of thing. A lot of my friends skate and have kids, so this will be a hub for us. I can’t wait to get it all together.
How did you figure out that the ramp could double as a play space for your kids?
There’s 3 feet of ramp that hangs off a 4 foot retaining wall. That end is supported by a header with posts under it, and the deck of the ramp on that side is supported with 12 foot posts – essentially, the deck is 9 feet in the air and there’s this skeleton that looks like the frame to something. If I left it that way, it would be an eyesore, plus it seems like wasted space. I was looking at it with a friend who works in the construction world and we discussed ideas for a playhouse. I’m a big fan of using recycled things, so I’m on the hunt for windows and doors that have been taken out homes, and if I could find some siding through a recycler that would be cool. The plan is to have a doorway to a little room with a loft, with cubby holes that go back under the transition of the ramp. There will be 2 or 3 windows, and I envision putting beanbags in there and making it a cool little zone for Brandon when his friends come over.
What did your “get out the vote” effort consist of, once you learned you were finalist for the November grant?
On Facebook, I have a thousand friends and another 600 on Instagram, so I had some eyes on it. A lot of my friends are skateboarders and are very sympathetic to building “the dream” in the yard. It was cool because it was personal – a lot of people rallied and that was the most exciting thing about it. It was heartfelt, the happiness of people rallying for us. The other gentleman, the one with the book project, people were rallying behind him, too, so it was pretty wild down that last stretch. When we saw we were down by quite a few, I called upon a few friends who have thousands of Facebook followers. We just networked.
You’ve been skating most of your life – ever had a ramp in your yard?
It’s so cool to have something in your yard, and something that I designed, too. I’ve been waiting 30, 35 years for this.