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All photos by Aaron Cayer and Sarah Robinson.

Hops and Fodder: Community brunches for lasting change

By Apartment613 on June 23, 2016


Aaron Cayer, owner of Antique Skate Shop has been leading a movement for community-built-change in Ottawa under the banner “For Pivot’s Sake”.

The goal of this initiative is to pay-it-forward by engaging youth to develop confidence, to get active and to get involved in their own communities. Hops & Fodder is one of For Pivot’s Sake’s fundraising efforts, involving Ottawa’s best chefs working in pop-up kitchens in unexpected locations throughout Ottawa. It is a strong collaboration between local small-businesses and dedicated volunteers, a testament to the power of community Cayer has been able to build.

The 2016 Hops & Fodder series kicks off this Sunday, June 26th, 10 am to 3pm at Town.  For more information, see the For Pivot’s Sake website.

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We had a chance to talk to Aaron Cayer on a busy Ottawa Skate Day 2016.

Apt613: Can you tell us a bit about what For Pivot’s Sake is all about?

Cayer: Antique Skate Shop and For Pivot’s Sake’s goal is to collect boards and other skate equipment, create awareness about the FPS program and fund raise so that every youth has the opportunity to be active and try skateboarding.

The program was started by a group of local skateboarders who were tired of watching perfectly good, gently-used skateboard goods go to waste. When we started Antique [Skate Shop] we knew we had to do something with these boards and decided to recycle them into the hands of kids in need. This grew to spending time with the kids in some of the communities around Ottawa and creating support and mentoring programs for them. And even sending kids to skate camps (sometimes sending cabs to pick them up to make sure they make it!).

You also founded the Ottawa Skateboard Community Association (OSCA), what is its mandate?

The Ottawa Skateboard Community Association is a non-profit organization founded to promote the construction of well-designed skateboard parks and provide access to skateboarding opportunities within the Ottawa community. OSCA consults with the City of Ottawa and contractors on design and planning to ensure skateboard-related recreational facilities are created and maintained with input from the community. We work them on many projects – basically OSCA builds parks and FPS helps the kids get to the parks!

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What successes have both OSCA and For Pivot’s Sake achieved in the various communities in Ottawa?

The biggest success that OSCA had was with the #1squarefoot program and the successful completion of our first fully concrete, permanent, custom outdoor skateboard park right at the  corner of Bronson and Gladstone. The Charlie Bowins Skate Park is one of the most active sections of any park in the City and by far the busiest skate park in the Ottawa Area.

With For Pivot’s Sake, during our first year we gave away about 10 completes. We have now donated more than 200 boards to kids in many communities in Ottawa and the surrounding areas. We are have also spent time working in some nearby communities such as Smiths Falls where we will start building a DIY cement park in the near future with some friends from Project 45 DIY park in Montreal. This will be a great opportunity to teach the kids some more building skills. And for the past two years we have had a small contingent up to Iqaluit for some skate/art programming as well.

Hops & Fodder is a one of your fundraising initiatives, can you tell us more about it?

We had started doing fundraising dinners with some of the best local chefs at some of cool locations in town (Ottawa Jail Hostel, Bridgehead Roastery) and this year we decided to take a different approach. This will be the first in a series of chef-swapping kitchen collaborations, Mark Doiron from Town and Jamie Stunt from Soif– two primary supporters of For Pivot’s Sake since day one– are teaming up to bring to the breakfast table what they aspire to bring to any meal: the fresh ingredients, careful techniques, and a jolt of imagination to the traditional plate of bacon and eggs and of course their own culinary magic.

Where did the idea for Hops & Fodder come from?

Our whole fundraising project came from Cait Powers. At first we were just running around the city giving boards out to kids in need based on donations of used equipment that we would get at Antique Skate Shop. Cait and Sheps (Chris Sheppard) came forward to help out and came up with the Community meals idea for fundraising for the program. I think also having a network of friends who work in the restaurant industry AND who previously had skated was a huge influence – everyone just wanted to help out!


Community meals for social change is a trend we are seeing in Ottawa, why do you think this is?

Likely, this is a reflection overall change in business strategies many of the younger generation of entrepreneurs here in Ottawa has embraced. Understanding that although we may be in different industries all of these local businesses are teaming up to ensure that we are all successful, while at the same time doing something to improve the community that you live in. I think for many of us its the younger generation standing up and redefining what business, success and philanthropy are all about. We just need to ensure that in the future we can keep up with the next trend and embrace whatever change is coming up next.

Who are some of your major supporters?

For the most part our support comes from the people that donate to the program. Without the support of those who come to these fundraising events our program could not grow.

Outside of all of the people that help out every day we get some major contributions from Beau’s All Natual, Vans, MediaStyle, Maru, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kelford Youth Services, and Antique Skate Shop.

But, much of the major day-to-day support has come from all the small independent local business, who have been with us from day one. They really believed that we could do this and believed in what and why we were doing it. They are Cafe My House, Shanghai Restaurant, Oz Kafe, Town, Jamie Stunt, Two Six{Ate}, Bridgehead, and of course craft brewers Dominion City, Beyond the Pale, Ashton Brewing, and Nickelbrook.

What are your next projects and milestones?

Last year we reset and changed all of our programming to be more focused on the people rather than the skateboards. So far this year we have had better connections with the kids and our volunteers. We want to continue expanding along that style of programming. For the most part our biggest challenge will be jumping into something bigger. We would love to expand to manufacture skateboards and create a circle of youth helping youth so we can both teach a skill and get people excited about skating. – I think all it will take is a few more volunteers and hard work to get where we want to go.

The first Hops & Fodder brunch of this year is this Sunday, June 26th, 10 am to 3pm at Town. For updates on future events, follow For Pivot’s Sake on Facebook.