Small Business Activist: Comet Skateboards

Pub date April 25, 2006

458 Brannan, SF
(510) 625-9045

What if we saved our precious natural resources by not transporting our food and clothes halfway around the world? What if Oakland had its own BART-accessible skate park? And what if everyone there were riding skateboards made from stuff that wasn’t gnarly on the planet?

The proprietors of Comet Skateboards, founders Jason Salfi and Jonathan Reese and co-owner Don Shaffer, want to make all of these grand ideas realities. They’re already doing so with their stylishly designed skateboards, with many decks sporting artwork by Oakland youths. Manufactured by Glissade Snow Board Company, a solar-powered facility in SoMa, the boards are made from sustainably grown bamboo or maple and will be glued together with a soy-based resin.

By "merging sustainability ethos with pop culture," as Salfi explains, "[Comet] can help push things over the edge" in terms of influencing youth to think more about the environment.

But their eco-consciousness doesn’t just end with the manufacturing of their boards. The entrepreneurship would also like to foster other small businesses in the Bay Area while saving the planet at the same time.

For the past two years, Shaffer has been busy working toward his vision of living economies. He started the San Francisco office of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, which connects local agriculture with local business to encourage people to sell Bay Area–made goods locally. The organization, which has chapters in Philadelphia and Victoria, British Columbia, also supports the principle that when businesses stay small and local, they better serve the community, labor, and the environment.

As for that skate park, the company is planning the Hood Games block party for May 13 at 15th and Franklin Streets in downtown Oakland, all to help fund the park on Jefferson Square.

While Shaffer works with BALLE, Salfi involves himself with Earth Alliance Institute, which gets youth involved in solving global environmental problems. Looks like Comet Skateboards will have many successors in the next generation. (Deborah Giattina)