Interview by Jan Kliewer
The jack of all trades he is, skater, on-going teacher, ramp-builder, skatepark designer, (…), globe trotter, Louis Taubert has been putting a lot of effort into charity work recently. While his first initiative to help underprivileged children in South Africa through skateboarding was documented in the “Birdsnake-tour” clip, he has now raised a hundred completes and shipped them down towards the Cape of Good Hope for what he calls “the Pigeon Plan”. The nest is built, however, in order to fledge, this plan needs support… but we’ll let the man explain himself.
Louis, in your recent interview for your DVS part here you already mentioned your commitment for the Pigeon Plan and South Africa in general. Now, you and your mates have released this little fund-raiser clip explaining a bit more. Wanna let us in on the cause?
Right. Pigeon Plan is solely financed through donations, we can’t go without. We’ve used the recent month to collect used boards and shelf-warming hardware from our partners like Urban Supplies Distribution, Pivot in Cologne, So Hot Right Now in Munich, Mosaik in Gießen, Support in Kiel and soon also Barrio in Berlin. Altogether we managed to ship a hundred completes down to South Africa. But just the shipping is already quite pricy. Down there we then plan to do workshops with three different institutions: a children’s home in Durbanville, a primary school and a youth centre project in one of the Townships. Our partner there is an organisation called IFFEAD and for now we’re still organised through betterplace.org – anyone making donations there can rest assured that 100% of what he gives is going to our project and that they’ll get a tax-deductible receipt. In the future we will try to stand on our own feet as a non-profit organisation.
So the boards you’ve collected are on their way now. What’s going to happen once they’re there? Did run into any problems so far?
Well, we just learned that we might run into trouble for imports. We might have to pay customs on the basis of the remaining merchandise value – $ 2000,- plus for our shipment that would go on top! We’ll see. For now we’ve written a letter to the embassy underlining the purpose of our cause.
You’ve done a similar in South Africa before. Are you planing on going too? Who is taking care of the workshops?
Right. We actually tried to collect used boards and ship them when we did the “Birdsnake tour”, but that fell through due to shipping costs. We instead got help from a distribution down there. I will be flying over for the workshops and will be assisted by some of my local mates. They will then be the ones taking over, administering and lending boards and so on.
The clip also shows you with a school class of refugee children from Berlin-Kreuzberg. Are you taking on more local work too?
Well, it all began with a little “trial” session for this special German class for refugee kids with zero knowledge of the German language. It went really well; so then the school principle first gave us a half-term contract and finally, another one until summer. The thing is, especially when you’re really new to a country and its language skateboarding can be a key to integration.
Sounds like a really good thing. There should be more demand for you guys in the future.
We hope so. But it’s all just starting. I’m sure there is a lot of demand, but we have to go step by step, one thing at a time; and rather do things proper then rushing them. Working along with me for the school project is Kerem Elver, who knows very well what these kids are going through as he came to Germany as ten year old from Turkey. But our workshops also extend beyond just physical skateboarding. For example we got a mutual artist friend involved and let him and the kids draw new graphics for the remaining decks from the Pigeon Plan. So that each kid had something to bring home at the end of the course – either for their wall or as a start for their own set-up. Before we had also sanded all boards and got rid of designs to prevent advertising and disputes for better graphics. The whole thing went amazing.
What will be your next steps?
We would like to continue our paths with the Pigeon Plan for South Africa as well as the school courses in Berlin and concentrate both in a proper, all-embracing concept to build further upon.
And finally we hope, we’ll be able to continue the amazing work with great mates such as Lucas Fiederling, Kerem, the volunteers and all the shops. We are super motivated. Beyond that, it’ll be depending an the assistance we get from the people out there. That’s why: Maybe you’re also keen on helping us and making a donation.
We and the kids and are looking forward!