Interview with ThreeSixteen’s Jon Crans

I have personally known Jon for a few years now and he is definitely a really down to earth guy who is always helping out the community in many different ways. Recently, Yahoo.com posted this great interview with Jon so check it out below! 

I recently had the opportunity to interview 38 year old skateboarder Jon Crans. Crans grew up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philly. He has been skating for well over a decade, has helped build skate spots and is the founder of ThreeSixteen, a skateboarding related non-profit. We talked about skateboarding, his work and what the organization has planned in the coming months. Here is what Crans had to say:

Gonzalez: How long have you been skateboarding and what is your favorite skateboard set-up?

Crans: I have been skating for 24 years. My favorite skateboard set-up is an 8.25 deck, 54mm Bones wheels and 8.25 Independent Trucks.

Gonzalez: What are some of your favorite skate spots?

Crans: Spots have changed over the years but there were a bunch of fun spots in my hometown of Coatesville. Philly always had a lot of fun spots back in the day. My friends and I would take the train into Philly, skate Love Park and just cruise around the city hitting a bunch of fun spots. That’s before everything became a bust. Now my favorite skate spot is the ThreeSixteen Bowl.

Gonzalez: How has the sport changed since you first started skating?

Crans: Skateboarding has really progressed. When I first started skating tricks were still being developed. There was still an empty canvas of possibilities. Kickflips were the most technical trick at the time. I remember seeing photos of Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupa’sboard sliding a hand rail for the first time and being blown away. Nowadays it’s nothing for a kid to skate a hand rail. The technical ability of kids today is way more advanced. Skateboarding is more main stream now with the X-Games and Fuel TV.

Gonzalez: Why don’t you share with us a bit of ThreeSixteen’s history? What inspired you to found the organization and what is its mission? Was it difficult to get started?

Crans: ThreeSixteen started out of my own desire to reach out to the skateboarding culture. I grew up within the skateboarding scene. I’ve seen the good and the bad. I felt I wanted to give back to skateboarding. Not just in a positive way but a spiritual one. The mission of ThreeSixteen is to promote the biblical truth of Jesus Christ to America’s youth and adults who are involved in skateboarding and their affiliated culture and industry. It was a little difficult to get started. Starting up any non-profit takes time and the right resources.

Gonzalez: How does the group incorporate biblical matters into skateboarding?

Crans: I believe God created us in His image. Because of that we have creativity in this world. Skateboarders are some of the most creative people on the planet. I try to live out the worldview that there is a God who is there. He is not only there, but He cares for all mankind. The word ThreeSixteen is based on the verse in the Bible John 3:16, “For God so loved the world.” We live in a world where you can believe in anything as long as you don’t claim it to be true. We at ThreeSixteen believe in true truth. The reality is that there is a God and that He sent His Son Jesus into this crazy world to save mankind by believing in Him. Jesus says, “I am the Way, I am the Truth and the Life – No man comes to God except through Me.” That’s a heavy statement that a lot of people do not like to hear.

Gonzalez: How does the group incorporate art and film into its mission?

Crans: We incorporate art and film into our mission because it is part of skate culture. There are many skateboarders who have become artists, musicians and film makers. Because of that, we are in the process of developing a film called Woven. It is based on skate culture, the art, the music and the worldview of skateboarders.

Gonzalez: Has the skateboarding community’s reaction to ThreeSixteen been what you had hoped?

Crans: Yes, and unbelievably more so. Skateboarders are tough individuals. We are the black sheep and I think we like being the black sheep. I have learned over the years that it is being real, genuine and giving back that earns the respect to be heard. Have skateboarders been receptive to the group’s message? Yes, I think so. And again, it’s about winning the right to be heard. It’s never about shoving the message in someone’s face. That’s like cutting someone’s nose off and giving them a rose to smell. There should be wisdom and the right time and place for speaking the truth.

Gonzalez: How many people does the organization currently serve?

Crans: We basically reach out to everyone, from the little neighborhood skater kid to the pros and skateboard industry. ThreeSixteen serves hundreds of people within the skateboarding community.

Gonzalez: What pro skateboarders are actively involved with ThreeSixteen?

Crans: There have been a few pros involved with us over the years. Guys like Ray Barbee and Lance Mountain have been involved through the film project and by coming out to do some events with us.

Gonzalez: What has been ThreeSixteen’s greatest challenge and greatest success?

Crans: I think our greatest challenge has been our greatest success; seeing guys accept Christ and see their life change. We have seen some of the toughest guys totally change their life around. Not because they bought into some religion or philosophy, but that God really changed their heart.

Gonzalez: In your opinion, what may other organizations learn from ThreeSixteen’s experience?

Crans: To really be genuine and to really give back. It is not about the name, it’s about people helping other people. It’s about relationships. Stay true to your mission.

Gonzalez: What has been your most memorable moment during your involvement with ThreeSixteen?

Crans: There have been many memorable moments. But, I think being able to share my faith every Thursday evening in front of 25 to 30 core skaters at the ThreeSixteen Skate Bowl is pretty rad.

Gonzalez: What upcoming events does ThreeSixteen have planned for the balance of this year?

Crans: We run the Philly AM skate contest event twice a year. This October we will be running the Philly AM “Street Style” contest in West Chester, PA.

Gonzalez: Currently, what is ThreeSixteen’s greatest need and what may skateboarders due to help?

Crans: ThreeSixteen is a faith based organization and we exist by donations throughout the year. We run many events. We have a skate bowl that needs up keep. Our film project Woven is our biggest funding need, so we can bring it to completion. You can check out the website for more info.

Gonzalez: I read that over the years you have helped to create several skate spots. Why don’t you talk a little bit about that? Where are they and how difficult was it to get the projects off the ground? How long did it take you to get them built?

Crans: About five years ago I came up with the idea to make a fun spot where skaters could come, hang out, skate, not worry about paying, pad issues or being kicked out. A private investor at the time wanted to donate a lump sum of money into our non-profit for this spot. So we hired Team Pain Skate Parks to come and build a backyard, wooden bowl for us. In the summer of 2007 we opened the ThreeSixteen bowl. It’s open on Thursdays, to anyone, from April through November. Just recently we have been working on another project alongside a local community center in West Chester, PA. It is called the Providence Skate Spot. After a year of development, it’s now open. Providence has a mix of mobile obstacles and permanent concrete ledges. Skaters can roll by anytime to skate the spot. The insurance policy allows skate at your own risk.

Gonzalez: If you could only be remembered for one thing, what would you want that one thing to be?

Crans: He was the guy that pointed me to Jesus.

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