This blog is an introduction into what it takes to start a creative reuse center in your region. Stay tuned for our book, an expanded version of this blog, in October 2012.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
At SCRAP in Portland, Oregon (where we both so luckily work!), we receive dozens of emails, phone calls and visits from enthusiastic, spirited individuals who all want to know the same thing; "How do I start a Creative Reuse Center in my town?" They've discovered a website or seen an article about creative reuse. They get the marriage of art/craft and environmental change.
We soon realized that if we were to coach each passionate and motivated caller to create a start-up Creative Reuse Center, we'd have little time to take care of other business. That's when SCRAP began the SCRAP USA project (see chapter about Fiscal Sponsorships). And, that's when we realized we needed a how-to for establishing a Creative Reuse Center in other communities.
Like anything, it's easier said than done. There's no satisfactory answer in a brief meeting or phone call. There's no simple 8-step formula. Starting a Creative Reuse Center takes a full-on commitment, hard work, good community relations, resilience and a willingness to explain your mission over and over and over to potential stakeholders. It requires a keen eye for cast-off goodies and doo-dads that manufacturers dump in the landfill. And it means writing grants, holding fundraisers and persuading every friend, every friend's friend and every friend's friend's friend to volunteer, give money or donate materials to the cause.
There are numerous delights along the way in creating a Creative Reuse Center. It is rewarding and often incredibly fun work. Creative Reuse Centers attract the most interesting creative and resourceful people and businesses in the community. You will discover new partner organizations and civic champions. You'll hear a new customer exclaim, "I love this place!" or a child will squeal with excitement at finding just the right-sized colorful plastic bottle tops for a robot's eyes. Each day will be full of surprises - you never know what donations will come through the door. A jar of vintage buttons in the bottom of a box of random art supplies or a piece of Chinese silk brocade or a set of black and white photographs of a family's 1954 snowy vacation at Mt. Bachelor.
This serial manual is meant to be the answer to your question, "How do I start a Creative Reuse Center in my town?"