Author Archives: Jen Mack

Build A Sign and Austin Creative Reuse reframe waste as a resource – helping their business, the environment, and the community

Build A Sign, an Austin printing company, joined the Austin Materials Marketplace to help close the loop on some of their most common byproducts – flag fabric, canvas, vinyl, sticker, gator board, and mesh scrap. The Marketplace team stepped in to learn more about these materials, research reuse applications, and promote their availability to businesses who could potentially use these materials.

 

After researching these materials and their reuse applications, the Austin Materials Marketplace team cast a wide net to promote them to local businesses and organizations, and hauled in Austin Creative Reuse as an interested taker. Austin Creative Reuse is a nonprofit reuse center that advocates for creativity, education, and community building. Since September, Austin Creative Reuse has been making weekly pick-ups for Build A Sign materials. This ongoing transaction has diverted 443 pounds of materials from the landfill which in turn avoided 1.74 cubic tons of carbon emissions from being created. These are some impressive numbers that will continue to grow in the coming year.

 

Build A Sign and Austin Creative reuse are also seeing monetary value created from this relationship. Build A Sign is saving on disposal costs and Austin Creative Reuse is realizing value from selling these materials at a fraction of their value to cost-conscious consumers such as teachers and artists. We estimate that around $2,000 worth of materials have made their way through the reuse center and back into consumers’ hands to be reused as raw material.

 

Even if a business recycles and composts, in many cases there are still odd materials that end up in the dumpster. Responsible businesses are exploring opportunities through the Austin Materials Marketplace to minimize costs and environmental impact by recovering these waste streams for higher & better uses – join the program to get involved!

Volunteer Spotlight: Shiree Schade

 

The next time you are in the Center, look at the baseboard. Shiree was the volunteer who created the tilework when the Center opened just over two years ago.

One of the reasons Shiree volunteers for Austin Creative Reuse is because of the inspiration she receives. “The certainty that every time I show up for a shift at the store or a workshop or for that matter any of ACR’s activities, I’ll get to watch other people’s creativity percolating and it will in turn amplify my own, oftentimes with things I’ve never thought of before.”

Another reason is the vibrant energy that fills the Austin Creative Reuse Center emanating from the creativity flowing from the shoppers. Many discussions take place between shoppers, staff and volunteers looking to share ideas and suggestions. And sometimes unique knowledge. Shiree recalls; “I was working in the bucket area one day and ran across something in a barrel that caught my eye by virtue of my having no earthly idea what it was that I was looking at. Since I’m from Texas, I didn’t hesitate to turn to the customers shopping in the area and start quizzing them on what it might be. It was a shoebox sized piece of brown fake fur in the shape of an X with webbing sewn into each arm of the cross, each ending in a shiny buckle. I was completely perplexed even though I like to think I’m pretty good at the ‘What on earth is this?’ game. Finally, one customer I asked said without hesitation, ‘Why that’s a ferret hammock. That’s what you put in their cage for them to sleep in!’ And she wasn’t joking! I was absolutely thrilled”.

In addition to being a volunteer and shopper, she is also a donor to the Center. “I think my greatest joy comes from bringing an item in to donate and then seeing it shortly thereafter in a shopper’s hand while they’re chatting excitedly about it to others. For example, I recently brought in an old decrepit mirror ball so someone might could use it for parts and not five minutes later I overheard a woman on a cell phone excitedly telling her husband about it and how they might incorporate it in a project they were working on – just what she needed, she said! That really tickles me – seeing something get a new life.”

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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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.

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.

Meet Our Newest Board Members

Amelia Despre

Amelia grew up in France and moved to Palo Alto, California in 2002, as she was working as an IT project manager for Hewlett Packard. Work then took her to Austin in 2009.

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. Amelia joined the ACR Board of Directors as the chair for the Systems and Procedures committee.

Amelia graduated from the nonprofit leadership and management program at the Center for Nonprofit Studies at Austin Community College in 2016.

Nancy Lyon

Nancy spent the first part of her life in the DC area, but had finally had enough of the politics, cold, and traffic, so she moved to Austin. For most of the 20 years or so that she has lived here, she has been doing molecular biology research at UT Austin. She recently started working at Austin Community College’s new campus in the old abandoned Highland Mall (her office is in the old shoe dept of JC Penney’s) and is helping to build Austin’s first leaseable wet lab space.

Nancy comes from a family of creatives. All professional scientists, but with hobbies such as cooking, glass fusing and lampwork, costume design, and jewelry making. As an underpaid scientist, she took naturally to finding ways of keeping busy and to making things, without spending money. Once you have that mindset and that skill set, it’s hard to do things any other way. The fact that re-using materials is also good practice for the planet makes her heart kind of soar.

On any given day, you could find her amongst the makings of puppets, jewelry, a metalsmithing project or even a delicious dinner.  In addition to spending her days buying $50K laboratory instruments to outfit the space, she scours freecycle and craigslist for valuable opportunistic treasures for the lab. Maybe, someday, there will be a bio-hacker space carved out at Highland.

 

Sharon Yarbrough

Sharon has over 20 years experience working in Austin education and conservation nonprofits and is a proud AmeriCorps alum. Her greatest motivation for living sustainably is wanting to instill environmental stewardship in her daughter and our next generations.
“I wanted to become part of Austin Creative Reuse because it is the perfect blending of my passions: art, education and conservation. I knew it was the right place for me the minute I walked in the door.”

Sharon earned a degree in technical writing from Illinois State University and was a high school English teacher before translating her skills into grant writing. Grant writing led to fundraising; including events and donor engagement. Sharon is the Development Coordinator for Southwest Key Programs, the 2nd largest nonprofit in Austin.

While her favorite activity is crafting or hiking with her daughter, Sharon volunteers as the Kiddie Crew Leader for the Austin Parks Foundation, a delivery driver for Meals on Wheels and reading mentor with East Austin College Prep.

Everyday Superhumans: From Trash into Treasure: The Austin Creative Reuse Way



Austin Creative Reuse Founder, Board President, Rebecca Stuch was featured on the Everyday Superhuman podcast. Give it a listen and find out more about this amazing woman and our mission of bringing conservation and reuse to our community.

Searching for our first Executive Director

We are excited to announce the search for Austin Creative Reuse’s first Executive Director.  The community response to the Creative Reuse Center has been amazing and the organization is in a financial position to take it’s next step forward.  This role will be instrumentally in sustaining the growth and direction of the organization.

Read more about the role below and submit your resume and tailored cover letter online to info@austincreativereuse.org.

Position Details

Title:  Executive Director

  • Work week: Full Time, weekdays and some weekends
  • Wage range:  $50,000 – $60,000 (Commensurate with experience)
  • Reports to: Board of Directors
  • Oversees an annual budget of approximately $100,000
  • Provide overall leadership to 6 part time staff as well as numerous volunteers, strategic partners, and other community supporters.

What We Offer

  • Challenging opportunity to lead a small non-profit that is set up for exponential growth and impact on the community. 
  • Fun, creative and collaborative environment with a diverse staff, volunteer and customer population.
  • Flexible work options, generous vacation, and family-friendly workplace policies. 

What You’ll Bring

We look for amazing people with diverse backgrounds and a genuine passion for conservation, reuse, and creativity.  We expect the Executive Director to be:

  • Passionate about the Austin Creative Reuse Mission: A demonstrated passion for environmental issues, along with education, art, and the nexus between reuse, creativity and community. Maintains a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the fields of arts and environmental education, arts programming and behavioral economics.
  • A Great Communicator:  Outstanding oral and written communication skills, as well as media savvy.  Proven ability to inspire and engage with a broad range of stakeholders and influencers, including staff, volunteers, board members, community leaders, donors, partners, clients, media, and the community.
  • Collaborative: Exceptional ability to inspire and build a collaborative, innovative organizational culture where teamwork is the norm and areas of expertise are respected and leveraged. Ensure a positive work environment that attracts and retains a diverse staff of top quality people.
  • An Advocate: Ability to inspire and educate the community about creative reuse of materials that traditionally have been discarded as waste, about stewardship practices that preserve and protect the environment and about the economic and social benefits of reuse that are obtained by the community.

Qualifications

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s Degree and field experience preferred.
  • Non-Profit  Experience: Five+ years of non-profit. Experience working with or on a Board of Directors; understanding of Governance.
  • Leadership & Management: Five+ years of senior leadership experience, with proven skills in organizational development and leadership, financial and operational management, strategic thinking, setting and achieving goals, mentoring and developing staff.    
  • Fundraising:. Strong ability to communicate the Austin Creative Reuse vision and obtain buy-in with donors, foundations, businesses, and other funding agencies.  
  • Financial Management: Demonstrated experience with budget creation and management, as well as with controlling and protecting all assets of the organization.
  • Retail Knowledge: Some Retail Experience desired.

What You’ll Do

The Austin Creative Reuse Executive Director is friendly, personable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Austin Creative Reuse and our mission.

In Strategic Planning and Center Operations, the Executive Director will:

  1. Assure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it makes consistent and timely progress.
  2. Oversee the daily operations of the Creative Reuse Center
  3. Promote active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of the organization’s work.
  4. Work with Board Secretary and/or other volunteers to maintain official records and documents, and ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
  5. Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.

In communications and programming, the Executive Director will:

  1. See that the board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and all important factors influencing it.
  2. Promote the activities of the organization, its programs and goals.
  3. Establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with community groups and organizations.
  4. Represent the programs and point of view of the organization to agencies, organizations, and the general public.
  5. Work with various committees and staff to implement programs and services that align with the mission and organizational objectives.

In relations with staff, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for the recruitment, employment, and release of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.
  2. Ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place.
  3. See that an effective management team, with appropriate provision for succession, is in place.
  4. Encourage staff and volunteer development and education, and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the total program of the organization.
  5. Maintain a climate which attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

In budget and finance, the Executive Director will:

  1. Be responsible for developing and maintaining sound financial practices.
  2. Work with the staff, Finance Committee, and the board in preparing a budget; see that the organization operates within budget guidelines.
  3. Ensure that adequate funds are available to permit the organization to carry out its work.
  4. Jointly, with the president and secretary of the board of directors, conduct official correspondence of the organization, and jointly, with designated officers, execute legal documents.

The above is intended to describe the general content of the requirements for the performance of this job. It is not to be construed as an exhaustive statement of duties, responsibilities or requirements.

Who We Are

Austin Creative Reuse is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to foster conservation and reuse through creativity, education, and community building.

  • We collect, distribute, and sell reusable materials donated from industry and individuals.
  • We educate the community about how to reduce, reuse, and create in responsible and fun ways. We make instructional kits, have a library of design and art ideas, and share these online and in-store.
  • We unite the community by hosting a range of events, activities, and classes that bring people together to build awareness around conscious consumption, sustainability, and art
  • We promote awareness of like-minded organizations to reduce overlap and increase awareness of city resources.

To be considered as an applicant:

Please submit your resume and tailored cover letter online to info@austincreativereuse.org

We review applications on a rolling basis. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

At Austin Creative Reuse, we believe that diversity makes us stronger and challenges us to think differently every day. Austin Creative Reuse  provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, sex, national origin, age, veteran status or disability.

 

ACR Board Fall Planning Session Highlights

Twice a year the Austin Creative Reuse board spends a few days reviewing the activities and outcomes of the organization and creates plans for the next 6 months.  These plans allow the board to focus the actions of the board and other volunteers as well as to ensure that we make progress but don’t over commit our resources. Austin Creative Reuse  is a mix of part-time staff and volunteers and while there are many exciting opportunities, we want to make sure we take on only what we have the capacity to do.

The organization is guided by three strategic goals:

  1. Operate with transparency,  evidence-based practices, and collaborative processes to be an efficient and effective non-profit organization that balances the needs of all stakeholders. Stakeholders: Customers, Volunteers, Employees, Material Donors, Financial Donors, Community, Environment
  2. Be a self-sustaining and scalable non-profit organization
  3. Be a resource for the Austin and Reuse communities that provides programs that utilize or support the creative use of repurposed and discarded materials.

Below are updates on key areas of the organization:

Finances and Accounting

Financial health continues to be good. Sales continue to meet our budget expectations and we are looking forward to seeing the sales during the holiday season. We hired additional part time staff which allowed us to open more hours.

Fundraising

The Resource Development Council developed several fundraising goals for the remainder of our fiscal year. We will launch our Year-End Giving Campaign with Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday in December. Some of the possible activities for the campaign are a volunteer event, raffle, gift wrapping events, as well as an online appeal. Another goal for the council is to work with board members to host a monthly First Saturday table event outside the center. The event would focus on board member outreach to raise awareness of our mission and center. The third goal is to participate in I Live Here, I Give Here’s Amplify Austin in March 2017.

In September, ACR was awarded a City of Austin Cultural Arts Core Funding Grant to hold artist workshops with a focus on reuse, Each workshop will feature a local artist sharing their art form and participants creating a hands-on project using reclaimed materials. The workshops are free and open to the public.We’re planning for a series of 8 workshops from Nov.- May, and resuming in Sept. to be tentatively located at a pop-up space at the Linc. We have formed a workshop committee to create a plan for implementation of the program. The committee will be searching for artists to teach the workshops as well as volunteers to help with the workshops. The grants is a biennial grant, so the program will be funded through Sept.2018.

Sustainability Committee

Improve our Waste Stream Management
We are pretty proud of our current waste stream management. We have clear processes for dealing with “unsellable” materials which are donated. We recycle all the single stream materials, fabric/clothing and housewares are donated to local thrift stores, plastic film to the grocery store, paints/batteries to hazardous waste, compostables to a compost pile, writing instruments to Terracycle. One stand out is metal which cannot go to single stream. We will implement an additional stream for unsellable metals to a local metal recycler.

Educator Committee

educators
In the next six months, our committee will work on Improving communication and outreach to the educator community by launching an educator-specific newsletter and reaching out to specific audiences that may benefit most from ACR resources, like coordinators of schools’ maker spaces. We aim to raise awareness among educators of existing and planned ACR resources, like obtaining materials from the Center, participating in artist workshops, and visiting website and social media sites for inspiration and sharing. We will also be available to answer specific educator questions and pursue a few collaborations with individuals as time allows.

Center Operations Committee

Increase our Business Hours to Better Serve our Community
We opened our Creative Reuse Center in August of 2015, with business hours limited to Thursday’s and Saturday’s from 10-2. With an all volunteer staff and a mountain of donations to weigh, sort, bag, merchandise and organize, it was what we could manage. Now, a year later, our business hours have risen from 8 to 24 per week, and we are looking to increase that to 30 very soon. We will extend our hours on Saturday to 4pm and begin opening on Friday.

System for Schools, Churches, Enviro Groups, Scouts to Tour and/or Volunteer at the Center
We often have requests from groups to tour or volunteer at the center. We’ve tried to accommodate as many groups as possible but as demand increases, we need to formalize the process. We will work to set up an online request from groups looking to tour/volunteer as well as regularly scheduled times that we can offer tours.

Reach out Goal – Start a Business Donors/Relationship Committee
Some of our best donors are businesses who contact us about the materials they would like to keep out of the landfill. Currently, most businesses are making first contact with us. The committee look for ways to engage businesses for donations.

Board Nominating Committee

boardmembersneeded

 

 

 

 

 

 

board-photo-karenWe are excited to announce our New Board Secretary Karen Miller.

Inspired by Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children at an early age, Karen began diverting interesting and useful items from the landfill, thrifting, gardening, and refashioning at an early age. She has translated that interest into a career as a professional engineer with a focus on waste management, spill prevention, risk assessment, and reduction of stormwater pollutant discharges from industrial facilities.

Karen began creative pursuits through scrapbooking her two children’s exploits. Through scrapbooking, she learned different techniques related to color theory, the use of different media, photography, and layout. Since then, she has truly enjoyed creatively repurposing items into art pieces, yard art, and a funky henhouse. She continues repurposing by developing creative Girl Scout projects for her troops and SWAPs kits for other troop leaders. Karen views her regular stints sorting materials in the Center’s by-the-bucket section as her weekly The Artist’s Way artist’s date field trip as a means to further engender creativity.

We are excited to grow our board and we are communicating with several interested people to fill other open Board positions.

Communications

Sharing information and growing community is vital to the success of the organization. We are continuing our efforts on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Meetup) and Google pages and Yelp.

We have active Facebook and Instagram accounts. Currently, we are posting three to four times per week on both accounts. To increase our presence, would like to post every day on both sites. I’d also like to build up our YouTube Channel and do a monthly blog post.

Working with volunteers from Leap to Success, we are in process of upgrading our website. We have a new theme for the site and are adding more options for content to inspire and educate about reuse. We will continue to make small improvements and maintain content on the existing site.

We are now operating with an Austin Creative Reuse Google G Suite account. This has allowed us to enhance the management of all our documents and will allow us to have gmail accounts for staff and volunteers. We’ll be adding new accounts to help us manage our volunteer opportunities as well as supporting our committees.

Events and Workshops

As we go into our second year in the center, we will start to add demonstrations and simple workshops to our events calendar. We have applied for a grant to run monthly workshops and are awaiting the response to announce further details.

While developing Austin Creative Reuse over the past few years, we participated at many events to build awareness of the organization. For the next six months, we are again limiting our participation at events in order to concentrate our time and effort on the operations of the volunteer center. We are still in need of volunteers that can assist consistently at the center.

2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Center Hours:
Mon-Wed: CLOSED
Thu/Fri: 10AM - 4PM
Sat: 11AM -6PM
Sun: 12PM - 6PM
Curbside Pickup, 10am-4pm, Daily
Tel: (512) 375-3041