What a Journey

As the manager of the Zero Waste McMinnville Facebook page I see the issues that resonate with people.  I shared a story about a recycled arts festival about 18 months ago and there was some mild interest with maybe 20 likes. Four months later a similar story came to me and when I shared it again, the response was similar. Then a few months later I posted a third story and it went “viral” with over 100 likes.

So, after talking to a friend of mine who has been presenting her work at crafts and art fairs for years and hearing her response (“We should do this here!”) I popped over to a Facebook page for artists and artisans in the Northwest and posted a query. “We’re not planning this yet….I just want to know if any artists out there would participate if we did.”  Within a week I had the names of 60 artists.

So I decided my friend was right and together we got a small working committee together: Aundrea Harris, John “Sam” Houston, and my husband Graham and myself, Beth Rankin. We sat down the first time December 4th and started brainstorming ideas. We met almost weekly for at least 2 hours and each of us had lots of homework assignments.

One task that I took on was to identify more artists to issue direct invitations and not rely on posters and Facebook postings that we wanted artists to apply. In the course of a week, reading through numerous Facebook craft and art show pages and then on to Etsy searching for recycled arts and then on to Instagram, I identified another 90. We visited galleries in the area and got a lot of advice.

We set a response date and we formed a jury to review all the applications. The four of us on the planning committee were reading the applications as they came in, but the outside jury participant had no idea and came to the meeting with ideas of his own in case the work presented did not meet the quality we hoped for. He was blown away.

Participating as a jury member is interesting because you have to analyze  the work that it takes to produce something while suspending your own reaction to the art. That is one reason why there is a committee-to balance that “personal preference” factor.

The other reason the jury is made up of people from different artistic mediums is because the viewpoints of the general public has to be considered. However, as artists who sell to the public, we know there are  people who do not do that kind of work and thereby do not appreciate the effort to use creative ability and accumulated experience to produce the work. Many of us have heard “oh, I could make that” many times.  We also know few people actually take the time to learn and better that craft.  The artists who have built their craft into art are people whose work should be respected.

neckpiece Carla FoxMost people, we know, will be amazed at the offerings that the inaugural McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival will present. The concept of “trash to treasures” interests many, amuses some, but there are still people who are not convinced. For example, when I saw the neckpieces that Carla Fox will be offering, I knew the white one might appeal to a bride. I imagined a less expensive simple white sheath as a dress with this neckpiece as embellishment and believe some bride would feel gorgeous while keeping their dress budget more reasonable. So I contacted about eight wedding consultants. Seven never responded. One was offended I would think her clients would wear garbage. She obviously doesn’t understand and it was not worth the time to educate her with her anger so apparent. I had a festival to organize.

But you understand. You know that we can always increase our own personal sustainable practices. You appreciate learning of ways others reduce what goes to the landfill.

The community has responded in amazing ways. For example, I mentioned to one of the management at Recology that we wanted to put a street banner up over McMinnville’s NE 3rd Street, and he offered to pay for it. street banner bThat freed up money from our marketing budget and when I was contacted by That Oregon Life (in response to our press release) to see if they could help and I told them about Zero Waste McMinnville, they immediately reduced their fee for the services they would provide. Howie Harkema was happy to have us on his community access tv program, Speaking Frankly: and How We Doin?  . Then his camera person offered to come and take video. Other media have responded that they will come as well.

We can see the metrics of some of our advertising so we know we have reached a lot of people. We’re amused and excited by the number of people who have “purchased” free tickets on Eventbrite because we can see that Friday has a strong appeal to many.  When I started posting the artist spotlights on this blog and thereby on Facebook readership on both increased dramatically.  We know we have your attention. LOGO jpeg

My latest nightmare is that there was a traffic jam a la Field of Dreams……..bring it on!

Artist Spotlight: Beth Rankin and Can-Do Real Food

Beth Rankin grew up in the paved part of the Garden State so she is amused she has ended up working with farmers. After getting involved with the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia by helping establish a year-round indoor local food market, Beth started connecting with various organizations that work with Willamette Valley farmers. It was while working on an organic farm a few summers ago that the fact of food waste became painfully apparent. At all farms, a lot of edible food is put into compost piles or fed to animals because of their imperfections, but they have the same nutritional content as the ones that are shaped right. Beth says, “I really respect the work that our farmers do, so my way, beside buying as much local food as possible for our own table, is to help by preserving that surplus produce and offering shelf-safe food to people to enjoy year round.”

loaded pasta sauce

No photo description available.Can-Do Real Food started out with canning fruits into jams and vegetables into sauces. We make an amazing Loaded Pasta Sauce that not only tastes fresh, like it was just harvested, but is full of other produce (those funny shaped carrots are shredded and so are the watermelon-sized zucchinis.) All add nutritional value and the fussy eaters will never know.

Jams and jellies tend to unusual recipes; Beth feels you can buy simple jams anywhere, but offers special recipes like the “naughty” line, each jar with a tablespoon of some locally made liquor or have personality from some other ingredient. Image may contain: food

Recently, Can-Do Real Food has branched into more dehydrated products, aiming for very easy to prepare meal mixes and supplements that people who  camp and backpack will appreciate.  These foods are designed to be ready to eat with just some water and minimal cooking and will be perfect in any household for a quick meal or when the power goes out and you can use your grill to boil up some water. Image may contain: food

Is this art?   No. But it is creative, no question about it. And reducing waste, including food waste, is a major component of a sustainable world.Market offerings

Beth Rankin is one of the organizers of this festival and You can find her and Can-Do Real Food at Table #27 where you can taste the food before buying.

Artist Spotlight: Marie Pederson and Color Me Shabby

Life’s turmoils sometimes provide a silver lining. When a family member became ill about five years ago, Marie Pederson and her mother Dorane started working with wood as a way to cope with the stress they were feeling. Marie explains, “We started refurbishing pieces of furniture and then found a love of making signs. We have always loved things that have a history or a story to them. That’s something that we loved about furniture was where it came from and it translated well to barnwood signs. We love the wear and tear the boards have, all the groves and wholes and patina tell something about the wood.”E5311AB2-B555-490D-9ACB-20660BC2DA5C - Marie Pederson

Color Me Shabby uses pieces of old barnwood to create decorative signs. Marie Pederson  loves taking pieces of wood with dings, scratches, knots, and holes to turn it into a beautiful sign for your home.5DF61960-833F-4BBE-B9E4-81FCF0D44BBA - Marie Pederson

The imperfections of the wood are why make it so unique and what makes it worthwhile to work with.700AABBC-AD1B-4EB4-90B9-DAB7EBA20BD7 - Marie Pederson (1)

Our sign wood come from barns that are falling down and crumbling. We take that wood and cut it to size create our signs.Color Me Shabby- Marie Pederson

Marie Pederson and Color Me Shabby is at Table #7.

Artist Spotlight: Peggy LaPoint and Psoup handmade

Peggy LaPoint learned how to sew as a kid, but it wasn’t until she was a working adult that she pulled out a machine that her husband had bought her a few years earlier. It was a basic sewing machine that Rick had seen in the returns section of a store and bought it as a surprise because he thought she might like it.  She had a job that was not enjoyable and she hoped the sewing would give her some joy.

“I had decided to take the machine out and start sewing on it but first I needed to practice, so I went to SCRAP to pick up some inexpensive fabric. I fell in love with the upholstery fabric samples and started playing around with them. Soon I was finding other types of material there and through friends who worked at places where leftover or excess material was going to be thrown out. I have been picking them up for over 15 years now and creating pillows, handbags & tabletop items with them that I sell to boutiques, museum stores and art shows!”6CD48A02-B564-4F06-9C2B-436A3F816344 - Peggy LaPoint

Peggy discovered she loved taking items that would otherwise go to the landfill and turn them into something, not just functional, but interesting and unexpected.  “Every few months I`ll be given something completely different and it challenges me to think of new ideas or designs.”   Former tent awnings get turned into totes, upholstery fabric samples get repurposed into purses and pouches, and theatre curtain liners get transformed into farmers market bags. Each season brings new materials, so many of Peggy’s items are limited-run!375FFB8A-E8D4-461A-9260-24B360A4089B - Peggy LaPoint

Peggy designed her 8-pocket tote to fit into her bike`s saddle bags. The 8 pockets on the outside help to keep all items organized.  Her purses, clutches, handbags and pouches are made from upholstery fabric samples, cut-off pieces of sunbrella and leather scraps (most purchased at SCRAP). Vintage curtain fabrics are used to make purses and she also use photo backdrop with old logos from radio stations to make grocery totes. vinyl banner bags Peggy LaPoint

Peggy LaPoint and Psoup handmade is located at Table #20.


Artist Spotlight: Julie Wilson and The Department of Work

Not all creative efforts become art. Not all reclaimed items are for visual enjoyment. Some, like the cast iron cookware Julie Wilson is offering, are for use….and a LOT of cooking creativity and enjoyment.

Cast iron has long been a treasured cookware, typically used over time in more rustic environments like cattle drive chuck wagons and at grandma’s house out in the country. But modern cooks everywhere are rediscovering the benefits of cooking in cast iron. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to care for the cast iron and it can rust and become unusable for cooking.AE3C37E8-7EF1-4A17-89A3-5EC3B3BB0DB9 - Department of Work

That’s where Julie Wilson and The Department of Work steps in, complete with elbow grease. She refurnishes the cookware she finds at yard sales and thrift stores by scrubbing off the rust and reseasoning the pans so they are ready to go, good as new. E4EECC16-8BA5-4FF0-8AD4-38869AF5D873 - Department of Work

This is another kind of zero waste; one that restores old items to make them usable again.  Julie says, “We rescue unloved cast iron cookware. We clean it and reseason it so it can get back to work. 100% sustainable, healthy, and affordable.” And better than that, Julie adds, “Cooking is a creative act of love which makes the kitchen the heart of the home. When food is prepared in cookware, especially cast iron with a history, magic is at work.”2BC71B40-2FB9-4AFB-ACBF-4670C809E03B - Department of Work

“I grew up recycling before there was even a name for it; it’s just what you did. I learned from my mother and grandparents. I learned to sew by watching my mother which lead to a career as a professional costume technician: From a two dimensional sketch I made three dimensional items of clothing for performers to wear. I specialized in the non-garment items, the fun stuff like armor, jewelry, hats and shoes. So I used my hands and was often given materials of unknown origins to make the desired object. This life took me to Ashland for 12 seasons, 7 years in Seattle at the various performance venues, and almost 3 years in Las Vegas working for Cirque du Soleil.
I returned to my beloved Oregon and in so doing, knew I was retiring from costuming. There are only so many jobs and I was ready for a “big shift”. The shift came when, after vending vintage decor at flea markets, my beloved and I went camping and he realized he needed the activity of slow cooking to keep him busy – I was good with sitting in the sun with a good book. His research into the use and (consequent restoration) of cast iron cookware created an overstock of items that we needed for that next camping trip. So it got sold at the next flea market, and the next one, and the next one…….. His cast iron became the main attraction and I realized that I had just walked through a major door of opportunity. 59DC334B-7285-4113-81D6-091E5FD4BBC1 - Department of Work
I am now fully committed to rescuing unloved cast iron. I love that I am offering an affordable, healthy, and sustainable product. I love bringing these pieces back to life and find such joy when a customer finds just the right piece, whether it is adding to their collection or is their very first piece. I have created a vocation where I continue to use my hands, interact with folks who are passionate about cooking, and am always learning about these amazing products from so many different peoples and cultures.  I am living the life of a crafts person and hear from customers, “Thank you for doing this!”, when they see the huge variety of rescued cookware. It’s a good life!”


Julie Wilson and The Department of Work is located at Table #26.


The Choice Is Yours….

By Lovetta Dill

About a year ago a friend and I were talking about stuff we couldn’t do anything about, and “wasn’t it a shame”.  She mentioned that she had become involved with an organization called Zero Waste. I had applauded their efforts at events like Turkey Rama and the UFO Festival but knew little about them. In fact, I had always assumed they were part of Recology,  like many people in town.  I never gave it more than an idle observational ‘Hmmm…’   I soon learned this was an independent group of people who just want to do the right thing as my friend explained the group was separate from Recology and suggested I stop at the booth at the Thursday Downtown Farmers’ Market and offer a couple of volunteer hours.

I’ve been recycling, repurposing, and stretching resources for decades (since way back when it was only us fringe nuts that did). But it was always just something I did because doing the next right thing made me feel good. And this seemed like the next right thing.

But commitment is scary, and I’m not a joiner.Image result for commitment is a scary thing

So I put my cynical hopelessness about making a difference and my social anxiety in the back pocket of my jeans and went to check it out.

Volunteering for the market and for special events was easy. It was only a few hours. I determined my schedule. I was enthusiastically taught the parts I didn’t already know and then  I had the opportunity to talk about refuse resource recovery and saving the planet one milk jug at a time, and it left me feeling good.

Image result for volunteering feels good

Source: Thrive Global

It was a personal accomplishment to be able to help individuals sort through the frustrations of the ever-changing landscape of recycling and occasionally see an idea light up their eyes as they figured out how to solve some system challenge in their own home, or discovered that there really is a way to recycle that pesky thing that you hate yourself for using but just can’t do without.  Sometimes it was just an opportunity to share feelings of helplessness and fear about this world which has been so kind to us.

I have risen to a whole new level of conversational competence about things I, as an individual, can do nothing about. I realize some would say I have become a certified fringe nut but I recognize when in a group of like-minded people, it is normalized.

I have come to deeply appreciate the difference a group of dedicated people (not just fringe nuts) can make when they focus on a common goal.

These small accomplishments spurred me to seek out further opportunities to make a contribution. The first actual Zero Waste meeting I attended at the Carnegie Room at the city library was intimidating. Nobody went particularly out of the way to put me at ease. I was, in fact, a little put off by their failure to recognize my genius, and ask how they could best help me to showcase my superior talents.  In other words, they treated me as if I were a person among other persons with a sense of shared purpose and I told myself to get over it. Join in. Add to the effort.grannephew

The Green Schools Committee wanted participants. That seemed like a good fit for me. I have always tried to involve whatever children are around in the specifics of living a lifestyle which leaves a lighter footprint.  So I just said, ‘I will do that.’ What needed to be done revealed itself organically as we went along in the group. At this point we are actively assisting several local schools in developing sustainable systems in their schools with the help of student Green Teams. And there will be more to come. By empowering the upcoming generation it is our hope they will be better prepared to live realistic synchrony with the environment.

It took a while, and some personal growth on my part, but eventually I came to understand that I do have some skills which can help me be useful in a community of other individuals with particular skills of their own, and that in pooling those unique capabilities we become much more than the sum of us as parts of a whole. O. Synergy.

Image result for synergy
Source: Thrive Business Marketing

I seem to have become a joiner, after all, and it is helping me to be a more productive member of the human race. Will I change the world? Meh. Can I/we make a difference? Most certainly.

              In any case, doing the next right thing, because it’s the next right thing,           always makes me feel good.

meeting announcement



Artist Spotlight: Zoe Wylechenko and Zoe Jones Designs

Zoe Wylechenko is a fashion designer and is bringing two very vibrant concepts to the festival. She’s been doing some version of sewing from used clothing since high school in the mid 80s.  Zoe loves shopping secondhand and feels it truly is amazing the things that you can find that someone was finished with.  Many of the items still have so much purpose and Zoe says it feels great to give it a new life, using her imagination to recreate something versus letting it just go wasted and end up in a landfill.

Zoe continues, “Another thing I love is patchwork.  My grandmother was an amazing seamstress and creator of hand sewn quilts for her family and friends.  Her talent of combining colors, textures and fabrics was an inspiration and I believe I was lucky enough to glean some of that.”

Fingerless gloves are made entirely by repurposing old sweaters. Zoe searches secondhand shops, the bins, garages sales or wherever for the best quality of wool and cashmere sweaters. Then she washes them, cuts them open to use a the fabric for her gloves. Combinations of strips cut and sewn together to make a one-of-a-kind piece.Gloves - multiple designs - zoe wylychenko

Skirts with pockets are made from secondhand t-shirts, hoodies, sweaters and any other clothing item that stretches. Zoe says “I reinvent necklines and cuffs to create the skirt pocket. I combine strips of various colors, patterns, and textures for the end result of a unique and artfully designed skirt. Everything is easy to take care of, comfortable and exciting to wear.”



You can hear Zoe’s love for what she does. ” Reclaimed materials are the best.  Hunting for cashmere and wool in good condition – the thrill is definitely in the hunt.  Going to garage sales, digging in bins, taking donations from friends’ closets – treasures galore!  Something with a stain in it, for me that’s an opportunity to figure out how to use it in a different way.  A moth eaten sweater provides a creative way of patching together pieces that end up making a one-of-a-kind combination.  The warmth and feel of something previously worn and washed up just adds to the aesthetic of my designs.”

Zoe Wylenchenko and Zoe Jones Design is at Table #20.

Artist Spotlight: McMinnville Montessori Elementary Students

A funny thing happened on the way to this festival. Early in the planning process the committee discussed ways to get the youth of McMinnville involved. We very much understand that as much as the adults make the changes that are needed to help the earth, our children and grandchildren are the ones who will be living with the effects of the past 100 years of industrialization. So, we wanted to set up an art exhibit to help get them thinking and learning.

We contacted the art department at Linfield and the art department at Huntington High School and yes, there will be some students exhibiting at the Festival.  We never planned on elementary school age kids getting involved, but Montessori jumped in fully!  We first planned an art exhibit, but Kate Massey, a Guide in the Primary program explained that the children’s enthusiasm and creativity took over the classroom for the last 6 weeks and they have been focusing on making things to sell from reclaimed “trash”.


The Montessori sales will only be offered on Saturday (sorry, kids, Friday is a school day…..) and we hope you will enjoy their offerings. While not at the level of expertise as our adult artists, they heave learned some basic fundamentals of jewelry making and have quite a few items that people will enjoy at very reasonable prices.0306191218 - Katie Massey

Kate Massey and the Montessori elementary students will be at Table #8.


Artist Spotlight: Joyce Kelly and Joyce Kelly Designs

Joyce Kelly, a Portland, Oregon native, has been sewing and designing since her childhood in Multnomah where she and her girlfriends played with their paper dolls in the girl’s restroom in Multnomah Grade School (now Multnomah Art Center). As a high school senior she won second place in the Singer Teen Sewing contest for the state of Oregon. She majored in clothing and textiles at OSU with dreams of a career in fashion or costume design.

Marriage, a move to California and the arrival of her children put her dreams aside for a bit. However the garments she created for her children turned out to be the start of her toddler clothing line, Daisy Originals, which was carried in stores in the San Francisco bay area.Bridge Luncheon Assemblage - Joyce Kelly

Several years later, a move back to Portland found her teaching creative sewing classes at an S. W. fabric store. When patchwork designs became fashion “musts”, Joyce designed a patchwork skirt pattern for one of her classes. With this design Patches of Joy, Creative Sew Patterns, was born. That skirt was the first of over 40 patterns, 6 books and a contract with McCall pattern company as well as national seminars, trade shows and media articles for Joyce and Patches of Joy.

Now, Joyce has retired only Patches of Joy Patterns. She designs and creates handbags and home décor items for galleries, museum stores and specialty boutique shops.Vintage Purse Frame - Joyce Kelly

Joyce explains,  “Fabric has always been my “go-to” when I create so when I discovered a decorator showroom wanting to get rid of their discontinued sample pieces I jumped at the chance to collect them rather than let them be added to a landfill. I have been picking them up for about 15 years now and creating handbags & pillows with them!Antique Metal & Rhinestone Frame - Joyce Kelly

“My current endeavor is creating new purses using antique/vintage purse frames that I salvage when they are no longer usable as a purse as the original fabric has not survived the passage of time. I select fabric from my stash of beautiful samples to pair with each frame creating a one-of-a kind purse that can now be used or placed on display. Some of the beaded bags that are still attached to the frames, but beyond use, I mount with other assorted items in shadow boxes to create interesting assemblages.”

Joyce Kelly and Joyce Kelly Designs is at Table #23.

Artist Spotlight: Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny

When Penny’s mother taught her to sew when she was twelve years old, she
immediately fell in love with the craft.  She started making her own clothes and
later made her daughter’s clothes, as well as children’s clothes and baby
comforters for a children’s store.  Though she took a break while pursuing
a “real” job, sewing has remained a creative outlet for her throughout her

Penny has been recycling for many years, and recently started to mesh that
with her craft.  She discovered that there are so many vintage linens still out there that
are not being used because they have holes or stains.  Many of these end
up in the landfill.  All of my aprons are made from vintage linens, most from the 1940s and 50s. She mainly uses tablecloths, but also has feed sacks, dish towels, and vintage yardage and embellishes them with doilies, hankies, dresser scarves, rick rack, and lace.  OSP p4

Penny says, “They don’t make cottons of this quality anymore, and
I love being able to upcycle them. I can cut around the flaws and make
my aprons.  Something considered useless is now a work of art, as well
as something useful once again.”oh Sew Penny aprons


Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny are located at Table #13.