Second in a four-part series.
If you read last week’s blog post, you know that we set out to tell you “Who we are, where we are, what we do, and why.” Last time we addressed the “Why.” Today, it’s who we are.
Right now, the WonderRoot Creative Reuse program is propelled by four women. (We’re not intentionally excluding men. We would welcome diversity.) We plan to publish in-depth interviews so you can get to know us better, but for now, we’ll be brief.
Susan Reu knew in 2009 that she was fixing to lose her job with the newspaper. A constant theme ran through her thoughts, “What can I do that would feed my soul and make a positive contribution?” One day, there it was, an Associated Press story about creative reuse centers, featuring Material for the Arts in New York City and The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor, MI.
With a bolt of excitement, Susan knew, “This is what I can do!” From that moment, when people asked about her plans, she said, “Starting a nonprofit!” And then tried to explain what a creative reuse center is: “A thrift store for arts and crafts!” She tentatively named the new venture “Creative Reuse Georgia.”
Sydney Ellis Gaskins had a job many would die for — performing with a Second City comedy troupe on a cruise ship. And though she treasured every moment in port, life on the ship began to lose its bloom. Her favorite destination: The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse.
“We have GOT to have one of these places in Atlanta!!” she exclaimed. She would start as soon as her commitment to the cruise line ended in Spring 2010. She searched Facebook, and there she found Creative Reuse Georgia. Her first reaction: disappointment. Someone was already working on this. Her next reaction: excitement! I don’t have to do it alone!
Sally Shelton’s 2010 visit to northern California had this highlight: Oakland’s East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. She couldn’t get enough of that place. By the time she could get herself to leave (which, really, she didn’t want to do), she had planted the seed for a dream, to start a creative reuse center in Atlanta. (Are we sensing a theme here?) When Sally returned to Atlanta, she got busy. She researched creative reuse centers all around the U.S. and emailed every one of them a list of questions about how to get started. She would have the benefit of their experiences — what to do and what not to do. Surprise: Kelley Carmichael Casey, the executive director of SCRAP in Portland, OR, responded to Sally: “I think you should get in touch with Susan Reu in Atlanta, she’s working on this, too.” A partnership was born.
Kerry Hill needed to strike out on her own after obtaining an art history degree at Agnes Scott College. She had grown up in Decatur, so it was time for a change of scenery. With friends in the Bay Area, she headed to California. Soon after her arrival, she was walking around Oakland and noticed the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Wow, what a fun place to work! She went in, filled out an application, went on her way. A month later, she got the call. Kerry was immersed in the culture of creative reuse for seven months. By 2011, Atlanta was beckoning her home, but she did not have to give up the creative reuse lifestyle. She would start a creative reuse center back home. Enter, Google. When she found Creative Reuse Georgia, her first reaction was much like Sydney’s: disappointment. Next reaction: excitement. “Maybe I can work with them!!”
Now you know us, individually, but that’s not the end of the story. As Susan, Sydney and Sally first took steps to birth a creative reuse center in Atlanta, we kept hearing, “You should talk to WonderRoot.” So we did, and wow, were we blown away.
We were impressed by the scope of WonderRoot’s arts programming, the vision of its director, Chris Appleton, and by its mission, “uniting artists and community to inspire positive social change.” Gone was “Creative Reuse Georgia,” and in its place was WonderRoot Creative Reuse.
Now we are just beginning the journey. And we’re hoping you’ll take the journey with us.
Next in the series:
Where are we?