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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.

ACR welcomes our new board member, Jenn Evans

ACR is excited to announce the appointment of our new board member, Jennifer Evans. Jennifer spent much of her childhood travelling up and down the east coast from Canada to Florida in the back of her parents’ baby blue 1970s Econoline camper van.  While it might have been frowned upon by today’s standards (there were no seats in the back of that van, let alone seat belts!), her fond memories of days on the beach, hikes in the woods and nights spent around the campfire started her down a path toward environmental stewardship that she now hopes to instill in her own children and share with her community.

A graduate of Duke University’s Environmental Science & Policy Program and the University of Chicago Law School, Jennifer is currently taking a break from her environmental law practice to raise her three young children.  She organizes Nature Playdate, a nature group for Austin families with small children, and is active in several other local environmental and community groups.  Energized by the creativity of the ACR community, she is delighted for this opportunity to join the Board of Directors and to lead the Sustainability Committee.

Board Meeting Summary, April 10, 2017

EVENTS

ACR is busy over the next month, and we could use more volunteers! Come check out our spin art booth at the Violet Crown Festival on May 6. Stop by the Center on 5/13, where we’ll have activities as part of the West Austin Studio Tour. Our Art of Reuse Workshops continue. Mosaic artist Catherine Sonnenberg led a mosaic art session in April; Mary Kraemer will be leading a class in succulent shrines in May. Check the website for registration details.

OPERATIONS AND GOVERNANCE

The Board members approved the employment of Isadora McKeon as Executive Director and Amelia Despre as Operations and Event Coordinator to further the organizations mission. In addition, the board approved the appointment of Jenn Evans to board. Jenn will head up the Sustainability Committee.

Board Planning Session March 2017 Highlights

The board met for an extended planning session to close out FY 2016 and open up FY 2017. Many exciting new changes are planned for the new year, including: an executive director to focus our energies, possible additional center open hours, more community events, activities and workshops. We approved a budget, strategized for fundraising and expanding business ties, and interviewed exceptional candidates for executive director. Stay tuned for more reuse and community interaction.

Board Meeting February 13, 2017 Highlights

The Austin Creative Reuse board met for their regular meeting on February 13. The members discussed several upcoming events, including the Thinkery 21 Event and the ACR Art of Reuse workshops, which have been extremely popular and fill quickly. In addition, they began gearing up for the upcoming Amplify Austin, which will occur on March 2. More details to follow.

The board elected new president, Carole LeClair, who begins her term effective April 1. She will be replacing outgoing president and founding member, Rebecca Stuch, who will be starting a new phase as a Peace Corps volunteer directing community development projects in Peru. We will miss Rebecca and look forward to Carole’s leadership.

Donation Spotlight: JOSCO Products

Here at Austin Creative Reuse, we depend on the generosity of both individuals and businesses to donate materials so that they may be upcycled. Business donations are especially important to our mission because they are often large in volume and provided on a recurrent basis. As local businesses both small and large aim to meet their triple bottom line, ACR acts as a resource to process and reclaim byproduct materials that may otherwise end up in the wastestream.

An example of an excellent partnership we hold is with JOSCO Products, an Austin-based textile recycler that has been upcycling discarded textiles into industrial rags for over 30 years. A byproduct of JOSCO’s textile reclamation is the strip of buttons from button-up shirts, which removed in their process. Through our partnership, these strips of cloth and button are boxed and delivered to our Reuse Center on a rotational basis. Then, through the hard work of our volunteers, the buttons are removed, sorted, and packaged for sale. The remaining strips of cloth, sans buttons, are then sent off to make more industrial rags.

This process is a wonderful example of a full-cycle waste reclamation. Partnerships such as this are mutually beneficial and fully emblematic of both ACR’s and JOSCO’s environmental mission.