Long considered a “polluting presence” (Skelton & Valentine, 1998), youth who frequent public spaces such as parks, malls, and libraries are being expelled from those places in record numbers. The celebrated revitalization of public spaces privileges an adult-oriented vision that sees young people’s activities (hanging out, listening to music, skateboarding) as inherently threatening to the social order.
The authors in this section explore both the tensions around young people’s presence in public spaces and the effects of geographical privatization on young people’s after-school activities. In “Playing Outdoors: The Importance of the City as a Playground for Skateboarding and Parkour,” Michael Jeffries, Adam Jenson, Sebastian Messer, and Jon Swords document young skaters and freerunners’ improvisational use of public space and the development of their interpersonal relationships and learning. The friction between youth choices and adult expectations is echoed in artist-author Jarod Roselló’s graphic essay, “Drawing with Milo.” Having illustrated his essay in the style of a comic or graphic novel, Roselló captures the dynamics of his negotiations with young Milo, including his own self-doubt, through both language and image.