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ACR 2016 Annual Report

We’re so proud of Austin Creative Reuse’s success in its first full year of operation and it’s because or you: our reuse community.

Thank you!

Creating Creativity in 4 Easy Steps

We want our kids to be creative and so we buy them all kinds of craft kits and maker kits. It’s true these kits are designed to help our kids create, but they are not designed to encourage our kids’ creativity. Usually the kits are designed to make one thing and one thing only, with implicit instructions on how to do so. This is fine if you want to make one thing and one thing only, but why teach our children to merely assemble a product when we can teach them to dream up something unique?

How then can we provide our kids a make/craft experience that will truly foster creativity? What if we’re not creative ourselves? How can we allow them to interpret the materials using their own ideas and ingenuity without getting in their way? It’s easy really. Way easier than trying to control it! And when we get out of their way we will be amazed at what they come up with.

To get you and your family started, here are four simple steps for fostering creativity in your house or classroom:

  1.       Have simple tools handy. If we give them the tools, they will build stuff. To get them started on many projects have a small “maker” tool box handy. This can be kept in a cigar box or other small box that is easy to grab. The easier it is to grab the tools, the more likely it is they will be used and the easier it is to clean up! Some basic ideas: glue, decent scissors, a hole punch, a large-eye plastic sewing needle, and a glue gun if you are working with older kids.
  2.       Provide the materials. Put an assortment of materials in a box and give it to a child. The container will make it feel like a kit, but the materials inside will get them pondering all the possibilities as seen through their own brilliant imaginations. It is said that childhood is the time our imaginations are the most vivid, and if we don’t use our imaginations then, we never will. We can foster imagination by staying away from instructions and instead providing open-ended materials that will allow their minds to wander. Some ideas for your creativity box: fabric sample book, wall-paper sample book, sheet protectors, colored cardstock or scrapbook paper, a ball of string or yarn, cut-up pieces of corrugated cardboard, burlap, buttons, chop sticks or kabob sticks, embroidery floss (I recommend the pearl style floss that can’t be separated and is easier for little hands to work with) and some type of simple fasteners such as brads. All of these things and more can be found at Austin Creative Reuse for less than $2.00 total! If you’d rather stay at home, search around for items you could use such as scraps of denim, magazines, the plastic coated postcard mailers, snaps cut from a discarded garment, old keys, or items pulled from the recycling bin.
  3.       Let go of the outcome. If you have an outcome in mind, feel free to offer it as a serving suggestion but then step back and let your child go wild. If you really can’t let go of the outcome, sit down and make it yourself but stay away from dictating your child’s project. By sitting down next to them and working on your own stuff, your child will be inspired by both your ideas and your own desire to create.
  4.       Have fun. If you can’t let go, walk away. If you’re not finding it fun, walk away. Creativity should be fun, not stressful so do whatever it takes to set yourselves up for success. Work outside if the mess makes you wiggy. Cover the table with a drop cloth if you can’t take your eyes off the glue dripping out of the bottle. Close the door if you feel triggered by the chaos. Whatever you do, keep it fun.

 

Make a field trip to the Austin Creative Reuse Center the first step in your family’s road to creativity! Come solo or bring the kids. You’ll be amazed at what you find. If you need ideas for projects or materials, just ask! Both the employees and customers at Austin Creative Reuse are happy to share ideas and inspiration. Check out the website for hours and project inspiration: http://www.austincreativereuse.org

If you have questions about projects or ways to bring Austin Creative Reuse into your classroom or school, email Bernadette at educators@austincreativereuse.org If you’d like to volunteer at our center click here to find out how!

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ACR Board Meeting Highlights 2017 August

Austin Creative Reuse’s board met on August 7. Here are some highlights from our meeting:

  • We will be sending one representative to the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling Summit conference in October.
  • Sales in July were strong, and August is on track to also show strong sales. July sales’ strength was due in large part to significant donations from Austin Community College and Silk Road.
  • We approved a budget for the current fiscal year and an application for the City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Art Space Assistance Program to assist with huge increases we will be facing when our current lease terminates in 2018.
  • Join us at the Thinkery21 event where participants will make a craft project with Austin Creative Reuse. Thinkery21 are events where grown ups can enjoy an evening at Thinkery on their own. While tickets to the event have sold out, ACR is looking for a few additional volunteers to assist at our booth at the event: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0e48aca92aa31-austin5.

August Volunteer Spotlight: Vernon Berger

Longtime Austin Creative Reuse Volunteer Vernon Berger is an artist who specializes in Found Object Art. Found Object Artists use or modify objects that are not traditional art materials to create their pieces.

Vernon sees the potential in things and he knew someone could reuse them but it was the nexus of the center, bringing together the artists/crafters and the objects of their creations, that he inspired him to volunteer at Austin Creative Reuse.

“I got involved from the beginning by just looking for reuse materials. That is how I found ACR. I learned about their needs and I ran across people wanting to rid of things and ACR could use these things. It always amazes me what people have to get rid of. I love the hunt and if someone can reuse it, that is a great feeling.”

A conservationist at heart, Mr. Berger is a member of the Master Naturalist for Outreach in Conservation who was raised with the fixit/salvage/reuse mindset. His love of art, advertising and promotion nurtured him to be creative with his surroundings while at the same time; “We need to conserve our environment and make it more beautiful.”

The Austin Creative Reuse Center provides Vernon a source of inspiration for his art and fuels his creativity. The center is a great resource for affordable, related materials for his projects and he likes the creative environment where he is exposed to different materials.

He also volunteers at Austin Creative Reuse because he enjoys helping and inspiring visitors to the center in their creative pursuits. “I like to nurture the inspiration” he says. “It is interesting to get into the different minds of arts and crafts. The mind is a wonderful place to explore. Love it!”

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ACR Board Meeting Highlights July 2017

At the most recent meeting on 7/17, the Board discussed the Tax Free Shopping Day that Austin Creative Reuse will host at the Center on August 5 (the statewide tax free days are August 11-13), and other upcoming events, including return of the Art of Reuse Workshops on September 20 and hosting an activity at the Thinkery 21: Come and Make It on August 24.

 

Isadora McKeon has stepped into her new role as ACR’s Executive Director. One of her first official acts with ACR was to appear on the segment  ‘We Are Austin’ on Wednesday, July 19 at 8:20 am on the local Austin CBS affiliate. In the brief segment, Isadora explains how to make a journal out of reused materials.

 

Isadora identified a few ways to tweak the metrics for the Center to improve our operations. The board conducted a post mortem of our recent Fabric Sale and have identified ways to make the next one better and more convenient for our customers. Isadora met with personnel of Austin Resource Recovery, and ARR has agreed to do event cross-marketing.

July Volunteer Spotlight – Jan Bland

Austin Creative Reuse Volunteer Jan Bland

What motivates you to volunteer?
I find volunteering very fulfilling.   I have volunteered for many non-profits in Austin for over 30 years.  I still volunteer for 4 other non-profits full time and 2 part time even while spending around 25 hours per week volunteering for ACR. 


Why Ausitn Creative Reuse?
I was looking for something I could feel passionate about.

How long have you volunteered with ACR?
About 2010 I noticed that ACR was requesting volunteers for an event.  I researched the organization and thought Wow this is a cause that I have been looking for.  I have always loved to turn trash into treasure (upcycling), keep as much as possible out of the landfill and repurpose things instead of buying new.  I began volunteering at the festivals and events ACR staffed around Austin and the twice a year teacher events.  From 2012 to 2015 another volunteer and I began holding once a month Upcycled Craft Nights where the public could come and learn how to repurpose things.  We used the donations we had in storage.  We taught many upcycled crafts over that 3 years.   I had found my passion.  I was passionate about getting a creative reuse center opened in Austin.  I visited other Creative Reuse Centers in other states and yearned to have one in Austin.   When the Board found the funding and the center was leased in 2015 I spent every day I could setting up the shelving, helping write policy and procedures and assist in finding merchandise to stock the shelves.  We opened Sept 18, 2015 and I have been volunteering at the center ever since.
 
 What do you feel is Austin Creative Reuse’s biggest impact on our community?
 We do a tremendous service for a segment of the population that wants and needs a bargain.  Our items are affordable, reusable and unique.  ACR receives a lot of vintage items.  People love to come in and find something they would never see. Several customers have said that they would unable to create their product to sell or carry out their plan if they had to pay full price for merchandise

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for Austin Creative Reuse?
I get inspired by artists and crafts people that come in and tell us what they are going to do with our materials.  I’m thrilled to hear stage managers, props finders, makers, etc. find just the thing that they need.  I love to hear the conversations in the bucket room, the squeals of delight, and the new creative ideas they have when they see an item.
 
Bottom line for Jan:  
This is the best store in town.  I love this place!

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Message from Our Executive Director, Isadora McKeon

I’m really excited to join the Austin Creative Reuse team as the Executive Director! From the early days of helping to brainstorm what the project could be to years of following its success as Rebecca and team brought the vision to life, I have always been passionate about the organization’s mission and thrilled to watch its evolution. As Rebecca departs for another great endeavor in the Peace Corps, it’s a huge honor to take on this new role alongside the amazing staff, volunteers and board members to help carry the vision of Austin Creative Reuse forward.

My focus will be on working with everyone to make sure we have everything we need for today’s operation and a strong plan for the future. I’ll also be working to grow awareness and support of the organization among our stakeholders and within the local community. While you may not see me in the center all the time, my door is always open and I’d love to hear from you – Isadora@austincreativereuse.org. I welcome any ideas or input you have as I get more familiar with the inner workings of the organization, and look forward to meeting you all along the way.

I am grateful to Rebecca and everyone who have given their talent and hard work to make Austin Creative Reuse what it is today, and I thank all of you in advance for your contribution to its future success.

Oh, and one last thing: I’d love to share one of my favorite creative reuse projects with you – sometimes called Pixelvision or Channel Zero, it’s a psychedelic light show you can make with a TV, some toilet paper rolls and a few other basic items that can often be found at the reuse center. Someone posted a video of one on You Tube: https://youtu.be/JzMRSPKc9Ns. Creative reuse rules.

Teacher Gift Ideas

School’s ALMOST out! And that means it’s time for teacher gifts! If you’re in Austin, why not get your child’s teacher an ACR gift card and introduce them to the MOST AMAZING ART AND CRAFT STORE IN TOWN: Austin Creative Reuse.

Teachers spend a lot of money on supplies for their classrooms. They buy everything from school supplies to classroom decorations and materials for big projects too. Once they know about Austin Creative Reuse, they will not only save money but be inspired by all the traditional and non-traditional items they find in the center. $5.00 at a chain craft store won’t get you much but $5.00 at Austin Creative Reuse and you will walk out with your arms FULL of creative fodder.

In case you’re wondering what you can get for under $5.00 at ACR, here’s a small list. And this isn’t even counting the Bucket Area at ACR where you pay just $5.00 for everything you can put in a bucket including corks, containers, fabric sample books, heavy cardboard tubes, matte board and poster board, bags of all kinds, prizes for your treasure box, and much, much more! But back to that list idea, here are a few examples of what you can get for under $5.00 that will help teachers create the most creative classroom ever…

  • Yards and yards of fabric
  • 5-10 balls of yarn
  • 20 packs of crayons
  • 2-5 sketch books
  • 20 sheets of stickers
  • 20 or more pens and markers
  • 5 inches of paper of all varieties from looseleaf to construction paper to printer paper and cardstock too
  • 20 never used greeting cards for every occasion with envelopes
  • 5 glue guns and glue sticks
  • 10-20 packs of markers
  • Oodles of pencil sharpeners
  • Rolls of corrugated banners for classroom décor
  • Handfuls of paintbrushes
  • Oodles of jars of glitter and glitter glue
  • 50 or more sheets of colored tissue paper
  • 10 or more jars of tempera paint
  • An entire parties worth of decorations including paper themed tablecloths, napkins, cups and straws
  • 5-10 sets of knitting needles
  • A drawer full of notions for sewing
  • A variety of paper punches
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Whether you are a teacher, a crafter, a parent, a curiosity seeker or maker of any kind, come on in and get a gift card for a teacher today. And while you’re in there, take a look around at all the endless creative possibilities in store. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a project. Or clean out your own workspace. Either way, I guarantee once you see it, you’ll be the first to raise your hand when the teacher makes a request for supplies. And you’ll know where to go in August when the school supply list is staring you down!

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Austin Creative Reuse’s First Executive Director

Isadora’s relationship with reuse began in the thrift stores and junk shops of Los Angeles during her teens and continued through her mid-20’s where she worked in and managed vintage stores in Berkeley and San Francisco.  An avid treasure hunter, she helped make ends meet in college by buying and reselling clothing and housewares. Around this time, she discovered the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, California where she acquired supplies for pixelvision, a DIY project that transforms an average television into a psychedelic light show using toilet paper tubes. She fell in love with the way that the Depot merged conservation, creativity and community and had a dream to bring the idea to Austin.

 
In addition to her role at ACR, Isadora is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Austin-based hospitality company Bunkhouse. For over a decade,  Isadora has helped build the renowned company from one hotel and a coffee shop to a portfolio of over 10 properties nationally and internationally. In her role at Bunkhouse, Isadora spends much of her time building community relationships and helping to develop the culture of each of the properties through charitable events, music and arts programming, and other creative projects. 

Welcome to Our New Center Operations Manager

We are so excited to welcome Amelia, long time ACR volunteer, into her new position as Center Operations Manager and Events Coordinator.  

Since she’s been in the United States, Amelia has been volunteering regularly for various nonprofits, with responsibilities ranging from volunteer lead to serving as the treasurer on two Board of Directors. She has always tried to reduce her carbon footprint by taking small steps like composting, growing her own food and upcycling materials, which is what drew her to the mission of Austin Creative Reuse. She started volunteering for ACR in the summer 2015, as they were about to open Austin’s first reuse center and needed help sorting thru donations and organizing the store. After volunteering at the center on a weekly basis for 18 months, Amelia joined the Board of Directors as the chair for the Systems and Procedures committee in January 2017. Amelia is looking forward to help the center grow and spread the word about creative reuse thru community events in her new role.