Want to grow your community? This is how it’s done

by Marta

Irene Dose is a person of many talents. You probably know the skater from Trieste, Italy, for one or two of her projects. Together with her brother Tommaso, the graphic designer is the heart of the clothing brand Busking Bears, she runs a blog, is part of the Italian skate crew Mezzepippe and still finds the time to skate and run meet-ups with the Italian CIB chapter. This summer she has a mission: she wants to help promote ramp and street skating on quads throughout Italy and Europe. What else could be better than organizing a tour and offering free rollerskate lessons. We cached up with her to learn more about it and how she wants to spread the idea throughout Europe.

What made you come up with the idea for the Grow your Community Tour?

The responsibility that I always felt since I’ve been into rollerskating is to make it grow around me and let people know that they can feel a lot of empowerment by achieving personal goals and being cheered by others while doing so. Around last Christmas I had a phone call with my brother Tommaso (the other half of Busking Bears) to speak about this year’s plans. We wanted to bring Busking Bears around Italy but we also wanted to do something useful and meaningful while doing so. The idea of offering free rollerskate classes during summer came up almost immediately.

What can people expect from the event?

I’d like to think of these dates as regular meet-ups, to be honest. When you plan to meet with good friends who live in another part of the country you have a strong feeling of excitement and all the energies that you’re giving are based on that feeling. A casual session between friends is the best way to put people at ease in a skatepark, so they can definitely expect to skate in good places, with nice people, drink some beer and hopefully learn something they didn’t know before.

What do you hope to achieve with it?

There’s a lack of recognition when it comes to rollerskating in Italy. Quad skates are often associated to artistic skating and when people look at us carrying our skates around they just do not connect them to the skatepark in their minds. That is something I’d like to work on but I’m perfectly aware that it will take years before we’ll manage to even being recognized by skateboarders as riders too. But I’m a patient person (laughs).

Irene teaching at a CIB Italy meetup in Lecce, 2017 - photo: benedetta bassi

You have a full-time job as a graphic designer, where do you take the time and motivation from to run a brand, skate and give roller skate lessons?

I enjoy having my brain occupied by multiple things, probably because every single thing I do is connected to the other. When I learn something new I can always put that skill into action somewhere else, so I guess my motivation comes from a place of self-improvement. Time management has been a struggle in my early twenties but then I started freelancing and I had to learn how to set boundaries between my work time and my free time. And let me tell you, it’s difficult when your home is also your office. As I changed my schedule in the last two years to work at an agency, all I can say now is: if I’m fast doing my homework, I have a lot of time left.

You recently announced that Chaya is supporting the tour with skates and gear? How did that come along?

I always kept an eye on Chaya because I really admire their strategy on and offline and how they present themselves. I sent some e-mails here and there around January and February and was lucky that the right person read it and gave me a phone call. I’m really glad that Chaya (and Powerslide) liked our project and decided to send us gear to make people try rollerskating and I can’t wait to put their gear into action!

Anyone else supporting you?

Financially speaking, the tour expenses will be upon ourselves as Busking Bears. That means that anybody can support us by simply buying something from our website or at our events!

There is also going be a tour through Slovenia. Can you tell us how this came into being?

Some months ago, I was talking with Katja about how to give our communities a boost. Neither Italy nor Slovenia have big numbers when it comes to rollerskaters and we were brainstorming about possible solutions, then I told her about the tour I was planning to do with Busking Bears. She immediately got very excited and asked if it was possible to add Slovenian dates to it. While talking with her, my brain connected the dots. Naming the tour “Grow your community” made completely sense in that moment. I thought: how about a format that anybody can join in around the world? This is an official invitation: if you (reader) are anywhere else in the world and you’d like to do your own “Grow your community” tour to promote rollerskating offering free classes, drop us a line. I would gladly draw a calendar image for you too and help you out with promotion through Busking Bears, just like we’re about to do with the Slovenian one. Oh, and I’ll send you free stickers!

If you want to stay up to date, go check out Busking Bears website or Facebook.

Interview: Marta Popowska
Illustration: Irene Dose
Photo: Benedetta Bassi

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