Creative Reuse and The Art and Science of Environmental Education

As I walked into the conference registration area Friday, I heard the words “Materials for the Arts” sailing across the room. In case you don’t know, Materials for the Arts is the name of a creative reuse center in New York City that has been operating for more than 30 years, and it was also the name of a creative reuse center run by the city of Atlanta at City Hall East in the 1990s. Well, of course my ears pricked up and I had to run over to see who was talking about Materials for the Arts. It was Sarah, a big fan of creative reuse centers. She was describing the concept to a colleague. I had to interrupt. “That’s what we’re doing!” I told her. “We have a creative reuse program in Atlanta, here, now!” She was taken aback, possibly because someone (me) rushed across the room and interrupted her conversation. But she was excited to hear about WonderRoot Creative Reuse, because it’s here, now.

Environmental Education Alliance of GeorgiaWe were at the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) Conference, held at the Southwest Arts Center, a marvelous facility in Southwest Atlanta. The organizers, with the theme “The Art and Science of EE,” put together an impressive range of educational sessions, including this one I wish I could have attended: “Say No to Cookie Cutter Art.” But I wasn’t there to attend the sessions, I was there to tell people about WonderRoot Creative Reuse.

I had the opportunity to talk further with Sarah about creative reuse. She, too, had felt the call to start a creative reuse center at one point, aware that Atlanta needed such a resource (yes, we do!). She even called the director of The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC, to talk with her about how to start one, something that we did, too, a while back.

Georgia Native Plants

EcoAddendum’s mission is to put Georgia’s native plants back into Georgia’s landscape.

Sarah’s pretty busy working with EcoAddendum — among other things — and feels the time has come to pass along some of the materials she began collecting with that distant idea of starting a creative reuse center.

Sarah wasn’t the only one who mentioned the need to send materials our way. It’s a recurring theme when we tell people about WonderRoot Creative Reuse. “Oh, I have some stuff I should bring you!” they say. “My husband has been very understanding, but I’m sure he’d appreciate it if I gave you some of this stuff I have been saving. Maybe somebody else can use it.” Sometimes the word “hoarder” is whispered, as in, “I’m not a hoarder, but …” That’s alright, we won’t judge you. Bring it.

Then, on the other side of the equation, we meet people who need what we have. Friday was no exception. Kathleen, representing the Outreach unit of the Watershed Protection Branch within the Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division, realized that her office could save money by buying from us some of the materials they use in their children’s activity kits for teaching lessons about watershed management. Who knew?

Logo for the EPD's Project WET

I want to thank Roseanne, an extraordinary volunteer, for working this conference with me. It is always a pleasure to spend time with her. And here is a shout out for our friends at MedShare, who had the table next to ours at the EEA conference. Read more about MedShare, their awesome work, and their art auction coming up on April 25 in our March 23 blog entry.


About Susan

One of the founders of WonderRoot Creative Reuse.
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