Friday, November 23, 2007

SWEET program for students with individuality

The Geelong Advertiser

Danny Lannen

SWEET MATE: Students, from back left, Max Mitchell, Zac Janev, Sam Veal, Jason Janev, Mark Formosa, and Chia Wong Yen and, front, Chris Miller.  Photo: ALISON WYND

SWEET MATE: Students, from back left, Max Mitchell, Zac Janev, Sam Veal, Jason Janev, Mark Formosa, and Chia Wong Yen and, front, Chris Miller. Photo: ALISON WYND

Jackson, Chris, Chia, Sam, Zac and more, they're all part of the mix at Geelong's school for teenagers who couldn't quite find a fit in mainstream learning _ and they're over being stereotyped.

They say the way they choose to express their individuality means they are often at risk of being bullied.

``Kids in town recently tried to kick the cr ap out of me because of what I was wearing, a lot of people can't accept who you are because you look like someone else,'' Chris Miller, 16, said.

``They want you to be sheep and follow the flock.''

The kids know about acceptance because they've come from diverse backgrounds and met many personal challenges but they don't like carrying the emo tag. Emo is short for emotional and is used to describe a teen culture which is descended from Goth and characterised by the wearing of dark clothing, body piercings, lank hair over an eye and avid interest in metal and Goth music.

The teenagers from Diversitat's Success with Education, Employment and Training program, SWEET, reckon the term also comes with insinuation of depressive behaviour.

``Some people are actually proud of it (being called emo),'' Zac Janev said. ``We're not them. We're dressing how we dress for individuality.''

Many of the teenagers in the SWEET program have experienced bullying because of their choice of appearances and have lived with issues including homelessness, drug and alcohol use and mental health complications.

Trainer and youth worker Deb Isaacs said they focused strongly on respect during their studies in areas including literacy, numeracy, art, electives and environment.

``It's less school based and more jobs based, and we're all entitled to our opinions,'' Chris Miller said.

``We have this instead of dropping out of school and doing nothing. This is our corridor into the workforce.''

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tragic death of girl revealed

The UK has been gripped by news of a mass murderer whose crimes have been uncovered recently. One of the bodies dug up was that of 18-year-old goth and metal fan Dinah McNicol, who disappeared in 1991.

As Dinah grew older, she became, according to her father, a "typical teenage girl".
Her taste in music and clothes, which she made herself or bought in charity shops, was gothic and hippy. She had a couple of boyfriends, but nothing too serious. The room she shared with her sister Shauna was a complete state, he recalls. "There was make-up and clothes everywhere. They used to share everything.

"Dinah was going through a bit of a 'goth' phase. She used to wear a lot of black and was into heavy metal. She was a really lovely girl with such a personality. She could make friends with anyone."

How I planned my suicide after Dinah went missing, by her heartbroken father | the Daily Mail

The police released a different picture of her last week saying...

Yesterday police released a new picture of Dinah in an attempt to jog the memories of any witnesses 16 years after she disappeared. Detective Superintendent Tim Wills, of Essex Police, said: “This image could be important because the photograph publicised for the past 16 years is of Dinah sporting a striking gothic image in a formal pose.

“This image shows a distinctly different and more relaxed young woman and it may be enough to trigger someone’s memory.”
The man who killed her it seems was a serial killer who would kill any young woman.

Rest in peace Dinah, Vicky Hamilton and all the other victims of these foul crimes!

Bedfordshire - Fear keeps youngsters away from skate park

Sandy in Bedfordshire is latest place to be hit in the UK by the wave of violence and threats against skaters and skateparks. See our previous posts on skaters.

The Comet - Fear keeps youngsters away from skate park

15 November 2007

YOUNGSTERS have deserted a skate park saying they fear being attacked because it has become a meeting place for gangs.

The skate park at the end of Sunderland Road, Sandy, was also where a young schoolboy suffered a badly smashed nose in an attack in August.

Now many young skaters say they are too frightened to go there, especially at night, and many will only go there if they are accompanied by a parent or adult.

"I have spoken to many of the skaters who say they fear being attacked down there," said Mid Beds district councillor Ken Lynch, who led the campaign for the £80,000 skate park to be built with cash from Sandy Town Council and the Lottery.

"It is disgraceful it has come to this and the youngsters are frightened to go down there.

"One young lad has already been assaulted there and skaters fear this could happen again because two gangs go down there.

"The police need to take some urgent action. Many people are telling me about gangs roaming around the town at night and I have seen one group for myself in the Market Square. They are very threatening.

"One gang is called the SG gang, I presume after the town's post code."

Cllr Lynch says the only way to make the skate park safe is to erect floodlights which will make it easier to police and deter gangs from meeting there.

Sandy beat officer Pc Lee Prutton said he will investigate claims of gangs at the skate park and in other areas of the town.

"When I was on duty I did see groups at The Mushroom and by Budgens in the town centre and they were well behaved and not causing any problems," said Pc Prutton.

"I will keep a watch on the skate park and speak to any groups of youngsters who are gathering there. The Comet - Fear keeps youngsters away from skate park:

Meanwhile in Crewe a new park is being built because the old one was vandalised in a familiar pattern:

Work starts on £80000 skate park
Crewe Guardian, UK - 12 Nov 2007

SKATEBOARDING teenagers could be trying out their skills on a new skate area in Alsager by Christmas.

Work has begun on creating a skate park in Milton Park to replace one which was vandalised and used as a late-night drinking den.

The £80,000 skate park is being built on the same site, which has been opened up to deter anti-social behaviour.

The area is part of planned improvements at the park, which include a new children's play area and a CCTV camera.

The skate area should be much more popular than the previous one because local skaters were involved in its design. The new equipment will be made from concrete, which is less noisy than the metal ramp in the previous skate park.

"The number of local skaters has dwindled because of the lack of a skate park in the town," said Alistair Cook from Groundwork Cheshire, which is overseeing the project.

"However those numbers will grow with the opening of the new facility.

"The need for facilities for young people in Alsager was mentioned by an overwhelming percentage of local people last year. A new skate facility in Milton Park featured highly in the wishes expressed by young people when they were consulted in October."

The new skate park will include seats, litter bins and cycle racks, and will boast a mixture of street features and curved ramps.

Work should be completed by the end of December, and a celebration event is planned for early next year.

Skatepark Will Have To Go (from Harrow Times)

Byron Skatepark where a teen was recently assaulted is to be closed despite the complaints of local and international skaters. Look at the range of comments on the first article.

1970's skate park 'irreplaceable'
Tuesday 20th November 2007
A SKATEPARK due to be built over by the council is irreplaceable according to a professional BMX rider. James Hitchcox, 30, is the head of a Users Association for Byron Skatepark, off Christchurch Avenue, and is campaigning to save what he says is one of the best facilities for skaters and BMX riders in the country.He said: "I have to be optimistic about saving it because it is what I have ridden for so many years. I was not that interested in school but I used to go down to the skatepark and one day I got noticed. That skatepark is what started my career. There is so much history and culture in the skate and BMX world. I have had riders come from Australia and America and stay at my house just so they can ride in a 1970s park."

The park was hand-crafted by a builder in 1976 and has attracted people from across the country ever since.

It is being demolished to make way for a new leisure centre and will be replaced by a new £300,000 facility in the centre of the park.

Councillor Paul Osborn, portfolio holder for strategy and business support, said: "The skate park has to move - there is no question about that. The whole project depends on it.

"I do not think it is fair to say that we cannot have a brand new leisure centre just because of this skate park."

The Harrow Times website has been inundated with calls to save the facility since the decision was made but Councillor Anjana Patel, portfolio holder for community and cultural services, has defended the plans.

She said: "We are not closing it, the new park will be a better one. This park is very old and the new one will be designed by the young people who use it. The youngsters will get what they want."

The council held a meeting on Tuesday night at Byron Park Leisure Centre to hear suggestions from users about what the new park should be like.

James has been riding since he was 12 and has used the skatepark for the past ten years. He said: "If you ride in the park it is not perfect but that is what we like about it. Modern skate parks are made off site and they have no querkiness or originality. You cannot find someone to remake it. That park is a one off thing."

Do you have fond memories of the skatepark? Leave your comments below...

Skatepark Will Have To Go (from Harrow Times)

21st November 2007

A LOCAL skatepark will have to go but more money could be spent on its replacement, skaters and BMX riders were told at a meeting last night.

Councillor Chris Mote, leader of Harrow Council, told the Byron Skatepark Users Association the current facility at Byron Park, off Christchurch Avenue, will definitely be demolished.

He said: "The existing skatepark will have to go - I have got to make that absolutely clear.

"We will never please everyone all of the time, this is not utopia, but we want to take an approach that is fair to everyone."

The skatepark will be demolished to make way for a new leisure centre and replaced with a new facility on a different location in the park.

Members of the users group told Cllr Mote the existing park would cost more to replace than the £300,000 the council has already promised.

They have also said health and safety restrictions might prevent the council from rebuilding the current park to the same design.

Mark Langston, a BMX rider who lived in Harrow for 34 years, said: "On the old concrete you don't slip. The new parks are made out of polished metal or polished concrete that's screened and shined.

"There are a lot of things in that skatepark that the Health and Safety Commission do not agree with but we've been riding it for years."

He added: "There are people talking about this meeting in America because they do not want this site to go."

But Cllr Mote hinted more money could be made available if needed.

The users group suggested a number of other sites for the centre but all were either already up for sale, too small or were privately owned.

James Hitchcox, head of the users group, said: "I just think that 30 years ago, when the park was built, they went to so much effort to make skateboarding a part of our culture and I really hope they do that again.

"It could be a piece de resistance."

The meeting was held to help Cllr Mote and council officers work with skatepark users in designing the new facility.

Police seek man who held gun to skaters

Salem, Oregon October 28, 2007

Salem police are looking for a man who forced two skateboarders to the ground at gunpoint Friday night.

The incident occurred about 9:55 p.m. at Sunnyside Road and Creekside Drive SE, said Salem police Lt. John Hoffmeister.

The victims, a Stayton man and Mount Angel man, told police they were skateboarding in a rural residential area when another man driving by stopped and confronted them. The suspect, armed with a black semi-automatic handgun, forced the pair to the ground and interrogated them about graffiti spray-painted on his fence, Hoffmeister said.

The victims told police that the suspect pressed the gun to the back of each of their heads. They said he smelled and talked as if he was intoxicated and spoke with what sounded like a Russian accent, police said. The suspect got back into his car and drove away after questioning the two.

The suspect is described as white, in his 40s, with black hair and a beard. He was wearing a plaid jacket. He was driving a bluish-silver Nissan sedan with unknown plates.

News -


Salem Man Arrested for Menacing Skateboarders with Handgun

The man is charged with two counts of Menacing, two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and two counts of Coercion. A pistol was also seized as evidence.


(SALEM, Ore.) - Salem Police arrested the man they say is responsible for the menacing of two skateboarders last Friday just before 10:00 PM in south Salem.

Lt. Steve Birr with Salem Police says investigators received a tip that 44-year old Mikhail Kotenko was the suspect they were looking for, wanted in connection with an incident last Friday during which two skateboarders were threatened by a man with a handgun.

Birr says officers went to Kotenko's south Salem home Sunday around 1:20 PM, after receiving a tip from a citizen that he matched the description reported in the news. Following a brief investigation, he was taken into custody and transported to the Marion County jail.

Birr says the incident began late Friday night when a Stayton man and his Mt. Angel companion were skateboarding in south Salem. They told police they were stopped and confronted by a man armed with a handgun.

The skaters allege that the man had forced them to lay on the ground, and while holding the weapon to the backs of their heads, interrogated them about some graffiti that had been spray painted on his fence.

"Neither of the victims knew the suspect," Birr added. "After terrorizing the two, the suspect had gotten back into his vehicle, described as a bluish silver Nissan type vehicle, and drove away."

Birr says Kotenko was charged with two counts of Menacing, two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and two counts of Coercion. A pistol was also seized as evidence.

salem man arrested for menacing‏ skateboarders with handgun

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alternative Magazine

Alternative Magazine

The Nov/December issue has a good article on Sophie Lancaster.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Derelict-Day of the Lost - Alternative Weekender suuported by Liverpool Capital Of Culture

The Liscard Alternative has been given a grant as part of Liverpool Capital Of Culture 2008 Celebrations. For a Subculture Day/Alt Festival called Derelict-Day of the Lost (in memory of Sophie Lancaster and all Alts and LBGTs that have lost their life in the past year).

"Feb 2008- Derelict-Day Of The Lost: a WEEKENDER of discos,bands and stalls in Wallasey!! The aim of this big gig is for awareness and Remembrance for the alternative and TG community who are no longer with us due to bullying, bullycides and fatal attacks, and for animals suffering cruelty, who also have no voice. The weekender covers: goth rock metal cyber emo skater biker rivethead 80s punk LBGT etc etc etc...

The Liscard Alternative is a charity (based unsurprisingly in Liscard in Wallasey) to provide a drop in, media,culture,lifestyle/lifeskills,advice and retail facility for all young persons aged 11-25 who are being bullied or getting abuse for the way they dress and/or their sexuality. This remit covers Alt kids and LGBTs mostly,but anyone who is suffering bullying and abuse is welcome to come along. We have a community bank account with Barclays who are very supportive of our project."

They are also hosting regular fund-raisers and trying to establish a local alternative/LGBT centre. More details at their livejournal and myspace pages.

Elecric Ballroom under threat - again!

First the Stables market now the Ballroom which only survived in 2005 by the skin of its teeth:

Camden New Journal - Forum: Why it could be the last dance for our Electric Ballroom

November 17th 2007

One of Camden Town’s most famous music venues looks set to face a new threat of demolition after fighting off the bulldozers two years ago, writes Kate Fuller

CAMDEN Council agreed a controversial planning brief at the start of October that clears the way for the heart to be ripped out of Camden Town.
Councillors ignored 87 letters of objection and a 400-signature petition. They agreed a new policy that means London Underground have a green light to come up with plans to demolish all the buildings in the triangle behind Camden Town Tube station. Buck Street Market and the Electric Ballroom would become history.
If the previous plans they put forward in 2005 are anything to go by, London Underground’s vision for the future of Camden Town is an anonymous glass shopping mall full of high street chain stores that could easily be in Basildon or Croydon as in Camden.
No one denies that the Tube station is crowded and could be improved, but it’s the potential flattening of an entire section of the centre of Camden Town that shows London Underground – and the current leadership of Camden Council – just don’t understand what makes Camden a special, indeed unique, place.
London Underground doesn’t seem to grasp that the reason why Camden Town Tube station is so busy is because of what is above the ground here: markets and music venues.
The last time they tried to do this, in 2005, they were seen off. I thought I could get on with what I do best and love doing: running a popular, successful music venue with a great history and heritage. Little did I realise that, like Groundhog Day, I’d have to fight the same battle to save the Ballroom all over again.
We are determined to fight on to save the Electric Ballroom.
I recognise the need to improve the Tube station to ease congestion, but London Underground’s ideas for the site would change the nature of the heart of Camden Town and actually reduce the number of people coming to the area. It would turn the centre of Camden Town into a building site – a ground zero – for years.
This would be a nightmare for residents and businesses.
Camden Town doesn’t need a bland, arcade-style shopping mall above its Tube station. It has a unique character that needs to be defended.
My family has run the Electric Ballroom since the 1930s. My dad Bill Fuller took over the Ballroom, then known as the Buffalo club, in a run-down state and transformed it.
Eventually, he had a chain of Ballrooms covering England, America and Ireland. His venues became renowned all over the world as places for young Irish couples to meet and fall in love.
Over the past 65 years the ballroom has come to epitomise all that is Camden Town. As well as our long association with London’s Irish music scene, we have a reputation for hosting top musical talent such as Paul McCartney, The Killers, Oasis, U2, The Clash, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Public Enemy and many more.
We have just refurbished the Ballroom, investing a large sum of money in upgrading the venue. We do not want our premises demolished and our business frogmarched out of the heart of Camden Town to make way for a shopping mall.
We are particularly disappointed at the way in which Liberal Democrat councillors fought the 2006 borough elections in Camden Town and Primrose Hill ward, using leaflets that implied they opposed the demolition – now that they are running Camden they seem to have backtracked.
I have written to Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who opposed the 2005 demolition proposal, appealing for his support in fighting the new proposals.
I would urge local residents and everyone who loves the music scene in Camden Town to contact their councillors and put pressure on them to reverse this crazy policy.
In the meantime – despite the axe hanging over us – we are getting on with running and improving the Ballroom. These proposals could take years to come about. We have defeated them once and we can defeat them again.
The best way the music-loving public can show they want us to stay in business at the heart of Camden Town is to carry on coming to gigs here.

Shocked letters...


I have visited the Electric Ballroom on many occasions over many years and seen some great gigs at one of the best medium-sized venues in London.

Farewell Goth Help Us

Been to draft this post for a while.

Goth Help Us International folded at the end of Ocober and was a campaigning organization which only started in April 2006 by Rebecca K Hohm. They had their detractors in recent times, but they also did some good things and help raise awareness that goths can be useful members of the community. Considering the hugely negative press goth often gets, especially in the States they have to be applauded for that. The San Diego branch appeared in this report on the local news.

This is part of the introduction to what was their website before it was taken down:

Goth Help Us" was founded in April 2006 in the United States and is a grassroots effort to help humanity. Hopefully we'll help the world realize that goths are much more than strange or odd people. We want to try to prove to everyone that goths are also compassionate, loving, and extremely caring people. We also know that depression plagues many of us, and the only true way to rid yourself of depression is to go out and help other people. Maybe by helping others, we'll find our smiles again.

This organization is about wanting to help people and to network with other goths in hopes of trying to help humanity in general. We are organizing blood drives. We are helping the homeless. We are making dreams come true for sick children. We are helping fund animal shelters. We are helping to beautify our cities again. We are helping each other and helping others.

We just want to spread peace and also try to help stop the violence against goths.

We collaborate with already well-established charitable organizations, such as The Red Cross, The Humane Society, and Habitat for Humanity. We are NOT a charity. We are a humanitarian organization. We are a peaceful and compassionate sect of people and now we're proving it to the world.

Here are some of the projects they were involved in.

* Drivers for ride shares in a Need-A-Goth program for people under the influence
* Escorting and assisting grieving elderly individuals at cemeteries
* Food service at homeless shelters for adults and children
* Blood drives
* Toy drives
* Beach clean-ups
* Housing cleanup for the disabled
* Animal care for the Humane Society as a volunteer caregiver walking and exercising animals, in food preparation, or even protesting of animal cruelty

Goth Help Us were involved in the early stages of the aftermath of the Sophie Lancaster case and helped tell people about it. Their collapse came about partially over arguments over the implications of the whole Hate Crimes debate which the death of Sophie caused. It was Goth Help Us who originally raised the idea of using Hate Crime legislation to address the issue and promoted it. Their campaign got somewhat carried away in some of the imagery they used. As we noted here before that whole issue aroused strong feelings both positive and negative see Hate Crime and Subcultures - the debate.

It was from that idea the more successful hate crimes campaign in the UK developed.

From what I understand it seems that in raising the issue prominently the organization became internally divided. You can read a little about this here. The group also had external critics.

It is sad that an organization which in its short life did much good fell apart in such a way.

The San Diego Branch was particularly active and its organisation was prompted over a particularly nasty case of assault on some local goths:
Synchonicity is the best way to describe the chain of events that occurred to make Goth Help Us San Diego happen as it did. A negative act with positive repercussions. Goth Help Us as a whole is still a new organization and at the precise time that was necessary to get everything moving in the right direction, a wrong was done. Jim Howard, the current president of Goth Help Us San Diego, and a small group of friends and family were accosted on the street by a number of drunk, belligerent people. As Jim was assaulted it was made clear that he and his group was chosen due to their subculture affiliation. This can be otherwise known as a “hate crime.” The courts will not recognize this attack as a hate crime at this time.

People painting over grafittiThis act came as a blow to the San Diego Goth community as the people that were involved in this attack were well respected members of the community. Alongside the choice of target, the Goth community is appalled that the courts will not recognize subcultures as a motivation for hate crime. Jim was, unfortunately, rushed to the hospital and had to undergo surgery in order to repair the damage that was done. Rather than acting in a similar fashion and attacking others, verbally, physically or any other way, Jim decided to act out and motivate the San Diego community to work together and help dispel the negative image that Goths have.
Here is the report on the case from Angst zine in September:

As many people in the Southern California region are aware, there has been a problem with violent crime against the Gothic community. None of us are certain precisely why this is, but we can guess; bad press, bad public image and misinformation undoubtedly top the list. The most notable California violence was the attack on 4 San Diego Goths. Outside of the United States, two young Goths were attacked in the United Kingdom and one lost her life while the other, at the time of this writing, is still comatose. Alongside these two attacks there have been many other attacks large and small across the globe. The first thing that should be stated is that this is clearly hate motivated. There is no rationale that can be used to defend these mindless acts. In San Diego, California, though, justice has been served and a blow has been struck against the would-be attackers and dangers to the Gothic community.

After a year-long wait, the four Goths from San Diego finally found justice in the courts. They were attacked by a Navy man and his brother, which resulted in the hospitalization of Jim Howard, the current Goth Help Us - San Diego Chapter President. As of the end of August, the Navy man that attacked Jim, his wife and two friends was found guilty by a jury of his peers on 4 related counts, 2 of which were felonious. The brother is set for a trial potentially for 2 felony counts. Furthermore, the San Diego District Attorney should most definitely get a mention as they fought for the rights of the attacked and the San Diego Gothic community. *

Here is an article on the group and an interview with its founder.
The Denver branch is continuing as an independent organisation as is San Diego under San Diego’s Gothic Volunteer Alliance (GVA). So locally the good work will continue.