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!

The Styrofoam Dilemma

Yeah McMinnville!!! We have worked out an arrangement with Recology to gather our Styrofoam pieces and bring them to Agilyx in Tigard for their processing. We are truly fortunate that not only do we have a polystyrene recycler within an hour of where we live, but our trash hauler WANTS to do the right thing and find recycling solutions wherever possible.  Image result for agilyx

So, a bit over a month ago on December 26 the collection process started at the Recology Recovery Zone at 2200 NE Orchard Avenue. Monday through Saturday from 8am – 5 pm there is a Recology worker available to collect your Styrofoam. Residents of McMinnville (city) can drop 1 cubic yard for free daily.  People living outside the city limits who are Recology customers can also drop off Styrofoam but there is a small charge. IMG_3595

The initial phase includes Styrofoam blocks and other larger pieces. In time, smaller pieces like Styrofoam clamshells will be included as well as other polystyrene that is commonly used, like the red Solo cups and other #6 plastics.  Also in time, once the whole process has worked out the inevitable kinks that any new project has, attention will turn to the large Styrofoam disposal locations. These are the large stores that sell appliances and furniture, all of which come in protectively packaged and wrapped.  The Information meeting Monday, February 4 5:30 at the Carnegie Room of the Mac Public Library will provide more information.

This is EXCELLENT!!!   So, why is this a dilemma?

Well, we know just about everyone is ecstatic about this new service and we are too. Do not misunderstand me, please!

The dilemma comes down to this: while Styrofoam is large and does not naturally break down and takes up a lot of space in landfills, it is not heavy, so the impact that removing it from the landfill is not as large as it feels.

We need to do more and guess what? We’re working on it.

A dedicated small group of volunteers, including the people at Cellar Ridge Construction have begun to develop solutions to the problems caused by construction and demolition debris.

Many have us have enjoyed watching those home improvement shows where demolition  typically involves a large sledgehammer and a dumpster.  No doubt about it, smashing down a wall can be cathartic to the psyche, but the debris ends up hogging a lot of space in the landfill and weighs a lot!

Cellar RidgeSo, Cellar Ridge, who has been using sustainable practices wherever possible,  will help us address the cost savings that a slower, methodical approach to removing usable components and permitting re-use can provide. Imagine not having to pay for so many truckloads going to the landfill. This is a win for the contractor!!

And there is another component to the dilemma: we need more people to help work this out. We are especially looking for those people with the experience of working with materials like this, but anyone who enjoys a good research project can help.

(By the way, we almost always need more people to help……..and event season is coming soon. You will hear about volunteer opportunities starting soon.)