Future Space for Creative Scavenging?

Scavenged ObjectsFederico, Yuki and I got together to discuss some possibilities for a project that we’ve discussed before: a space for scavengers. Right now, this is just an idea that we’re kicking around, but we’re hoping that it will become a real place… soon.

Here’s what it might look like: a storefront which displays all sorts of materials that would have gone to a landfill had we not diverted them. It could include: fabric, clothing, buttons, boards, paper, office supplies, some electronics, art supplies… you name it. Items are very cheap, sometimes free – probably sold by the pound or by the bag. Volunteers help accept, sort and catalog donations. Workshops are held that get people’s creativity flowing.

How it might work: the space could be run by volunteers and/or a few paid staff. It might be a non-profit, a cooperative, a business, or some other kind of structure. It seems like it can make enough money to run itself, with all the materials that will be donated at no cost, then selling items will bring in some funds.

Where it would be: there’s a need for some kind of storefront somewhere. We’re thinking it would be relatively close to the L.A. Eco-Village. Perhaps in one of the vacant storefronts at a nearby strip mall. Ultimately it might also incorporate some outdoor space, where we could store and distribute mulch, urbanite, compost, etc.

What people do elsewhere: Here are some links to some similar sites (definitely not an exhaustive list!) We don’t want to necessarily copy or compete with or franchise these… but they give some ideas as to what the space might resemble. We can draw inspiration and ideas from them:

Bike Cooperatives – all over!
The Bike Kitchen (which started in the kitchen of unit 110 at L.A. Eco-Village), BikeRoWave, and the Bike Oven are examples of community spaces where folks learn to repair bicycles – often giving new life to old parts from donated discarded bikes.

The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse – Oakland, CA
EBDfCR promotes solid waste diversion and resource conservation by collecting and redistributing reusable materials for education, arts & crafts, and other creative projects.

Free Geek – Portland, OR (and other locations)
Free Geek recycles and refurbishes used technology. They provide computers, education, and job skills training to volunteers in exchange for their service.

The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse

A local space modeled after San Francisco’s SCRAP and the East Bay Depot for creative ReUse in Oakland. We sure owe them a visit.

Ohmega Salvage – Berkeley, CA
Ohmega Salvage buys and sells unusual building materials, in order to preserve architectural heritage.

Rebuilding Center – Portland, OR
The Rebuilding Center sells used building and remodeling materials and furniture. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting reuse.

The RE Store – Seattle and Bellingham, WA
The RE Store sells used building materials, and provides mobile removal services.

SCRAP (the School and Community Reuse Action Project) – Portland, OR
This SCRAP inspires creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials.

SCRAP (Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts) – San Francisco, CA
This SCRAP is a creative reuse center, store and workshop space. They work with textiles, paper, jewelry findings, wood, buttons and plastics.

Tinker’s Workshop – Berkeley, CA
Tinker’s Workshop educates people on repairing and creating tools, bikes, and machines.

Urban Ore – Berkeley, CA
Urban Ore works to end the age of waste by advocating and developing total recycling. They receive unwanted things and sell them as-is for reuse.

How you can help: If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re interested in getting involved? We’re looking for a few intrepid souls to help get this thing off the ground… though we do want to work in a collective, non-hierarchical way as much as possible. If you’re interested, make a comment below.

(Note: though it lists Joe as the author, this entry was a collaboration between Federico, Yuki, and Joe.)


10 thoughts on “Future Space for Creative Scavenging?

    Lawton Ursrey, founder of Atlanta-based clothing line INDIE PEACE just found out his 100% certified organic t-shirt line will be featured in the upcoming Woody Harrelson movie “Zombieland.” Harrelson will be wearing different shirts from the INDIE PEACE collection in the movie and liked them so much, he ended up keeping every style. Woody shared them with pal Owen Wilson and now Owen would like to wear them in his next movie as well. To add to the good news, Lawton’s INDIE PEACE line launched in 8 different Nordstrom stores starting the last week of April. This is major news in the retail market because most major department stores have not embraced eco-friendly or sustainable clothing for men in their stores. Lawton will now lead the way for other eco-friendly men’s clothing designers to break through these barriers. On a side note, this news came at the right time. Due to the current economic climate, Lawton had to close his Atlanta office and ended up moving his business to the basement of his home. He didn’t quit though – proving that even in an economic slump, socially responsible companies are surviving in this volatile market. Want a sneak preview of Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson’s style and can’t make it to Nordstrom? Go eco-shopping at http://www.indiepeace.myshopify.com

  2. When one of my daughter’s college year ended, she used to go what was commonly called, “Dumpster Diving,” collecting treasures from other people’s trash. One year, she landed a sewing machine, a great piece of artwork, and if I remember correctly a TV.

    It’s amazing the various uses of someone else’s trash. In fact, I have a book called “Trashables to Teachables” I’d love to be able to donate to this project…………….:)

  3. dear chiqui. i think thrift stores specialize in items that can be used off the shelves most of the time and we would like to stock materials that are unprocessed too.
    for example, in a thrift store you might be able to find a radio but what if you were looking for a bunch of little speakers. or a bunch of zippers? so the difference is ready to be (re)used versus undefined.

  4. Yeah – I think it’s like a community-based thrift store… but like, Federico says, probably more of an emphasis on raw materials than on finished stuff… but I suspect that it will be something that some of us set in motion that takes on a life of its own.

  5. I am so thrilled to come across your blog post (*no* idea how I meandered my way here!) and am wondering if you have made any progress on your reuse shop.
    I volunteered for Eugene, OR-based Materials Exchange Center for Creative Arts (MECCA), a similarly structured organization which I believe no longer exists. Since then I’ve visited most of the organizations on your list and have always wanted to be a part of something like this. I’m in Washington right now but am looking in LA for grad schools … would love to know if you’ve gotten any further with your great idea.
    Not as familiar with the LA reuse scene but I know that in Seattle, Portland, Berkeley, SF these programs are enthusiastically supported.
    Off to take a good look at your blog. Cheers!

  6. Emily – Unfortunately we’re still in the discussions stage… we had hoped that our blog entry would precipitate a couple responses like yours! So, I, for one, am glad to see your response. I think we need a nucleus of people who are excited about the idea. Please let us know when you’re in LA… and we’ll see how we can move forward…

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