The Art Education Department at VCU and MCVP are working to open a thriving creative reuse center for Richmond called, STUFF REDUX. Every year literally tons of materials head to landfills – but many of these items are not trash. Often, these materials can be reused in projects ranging from kids crafts to home improvement. Creative reuse centers help to decrease the steady flow of materials to our landfills by collecting and redistributing items ready for upcycle to artists, teachers, assisted living homes, summer camps and community members. In addition to the clear environmental benefits, creative reuse organizations have demonstrated marked success in promoting creativity, environmental sustainability, community engagement, education, collaboration, and the arts. There are over 100 creative reuse centers across the US and Europe. Some have existed since the 1970s, but most have emerged in the last 20 years. Places like SCRAP in Portland, The Scrap Exchange in Durham, and Materials for the Arts in NYC are leaders in the reuse revolution. It is time for Richmond to join this powerful movement.
Our mission is to promote environmental sustainability, creativity, and community engagement in Richmond by collecting traditionally discarded materials from local businesses and redistributing them to community members for use in creative and educational projects.
Where we have been:
In 2008 Sarah Branigan and Diana Wagner, along with a dedicated group of teachers and community members in Richmond founded Stuff, Inc., an all volunteer organization that collected donated materials from local businesses and held birthday parties as well as community events featuring recycled art projects. They aspired to become a full fledged creative reuse center. Although Stuff, Inc. garnered much popular support, they disbanded in 2010 unable to meet their funding goals during the tough economic climate. Still, the strength of their idea lingered in the minds of many Richmonders.
In January 2012, Dr. Ann Ritter of VCUHS, and donor to ART 180, began collecting the abundance of unused non-sterile operating room supplies she saw go to waste everyday. Seeking an efficient way to get these supplies into the hands of local artists and teachers, Dr. Ritter contacted Dr. Sara Wilson McKay, chair of VCU Art Education. Dr. Wilson McKay connected Dr. Ritter’s desire to STUFF’s unrealized initiative to develop a creative reuse center in Richmond. Together they funded Art Education graduate student, Rachael Cohen, to help organize and support an ambitious new project. With renewed passion and energy, the campaign to establish Richmond’s first Creative Reuse Center was reborn.
Where we are going:
Our vision is to be Richmond’s primary and best community resource for reusable supplies, art, and environmental education materials. We aim to become a home for Richmond’s creative movers and shakers, and a nexus for ideas and community supported projects that address environmental sustainability, education, collaboration, and the arts. We are currently in the initial phase of our development and are working to secure a facility that will become our home base. Part storage unit, part community center, this space will hold workshops, classes, community events, and a “store” where community members will come to browse and take home a variety of reusable materials donated by local business, manufacturing companies, and waste collection facilities. Our growth will move quickly in the coming months and we know that community recognition, support, and input are integral to the success of a creative reuse center. We are working to survey the creative reuse needs of Richmond as well as increase our community presence and volunteer base. Already flush with reusable supplies from MCVP, we have begun donating to the Children’s Museum, the Visual Arts Center, St. Catherine’s, ART 180, local artists, and area art teachers. Students at the Children’s Museum have been turning saline bottles into decorative flowers and CDs into sculptures. We have brought these project ideas and more to the larger Richmond community at events like sustainRVA and Fox’s Fall Festival. We look forward to sharing these ideas and supplies with you!
Want to learn more or get involved?
Contact Rachael Cohen at email@example.com