Bethlehem’s Skateplaza opening is a big deal. And it’s all because of the tireless work and humble leadership of Andy Po, owner of HomeBase Skate Shop.
I’m very proud to know Andy. He’s helped ArtsLehigh in many ways since we started five years ago. One of our first community programs was a partnership with his network of graffiti artists. He brought them in for a paint out/skate demo on the parking lot next to the now Taylor Family Gas station during a First Friday. He convinced the artists to stick around Bethlehem for one more day and paint the construction boards around Zoellner Art Center. Many Lehigh University art students got to see the creative process of these artists. And a construction zone was made a little bit more beautiful by turning safety boards into a temporary outdoor exhibit.
We’ve continued our partnership by working together on a number of community events. Three years ago, Andy convinced the Spring on Fourth (a.k.a Chilifest) Committee to do a skate/BMX Bike demo on New Street just north of Campus Square. While it was a great time for skaters, it showed the community that this group of young citizens are not only incredibly talented – but respectful and deserve a park so they can continue to improve their skills.
Andy has been patiently breaking down barriers, empowering youth to speak up and work for their dreams, and bringing the community together on a dream that some thought would never happen. In the truest definition of an entrepreneur and an artist – Andy has the vision and makes it happen. He learned how to work systems, build relationships, support creative effort and empowered others to build the dream with him. It’s been ten years in the making. Well done, my friend.