Reuse Centers: Ways to Optimize Partnerships Series – Reuse Contests – by Sara Badiali

Reuse Contests is the first of in a series of five articles about partnership optimization for the building material reuse community. 


Reuse Centers: Ways to Optimize Partnerships Series

One of the benefits of starting the Reclamation Administration is that I get to see how reuse centers optimize partnerships within the community.

Like churches or pubs, reuse centers can be a pivotal gathering place. If done well, the physical detritus of the community flows through a reuse center. Neighbors stop and talk with each other over finds and projects, suggestions are made and advice is given. I’ve seen reuse centers inspire creativity that transcend individual projects and develop into community initiatives.  Material with history motivates people to collaborate and build both projects and relationships.


Reuse Contests

Reuse Contests are growing in popularity.  Over the years some contests have developed from community gatherings into grand events.  Entire galas have grown out of simple DIY challenges.  Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like media coverage and a party.

The Post-Gazette and Construction Junction joined forces and created the Reuse Inspiration Contest. People sent in photos of their home renovation projects and three won tickets to the Big Pour, a beer festival sponsored by a brewery in Pittsburg.  The reuse center Construction Junction, the Post-Gazette and the brewery attracted lots of publicity but also provided the community with inspiration in creative reuse.

Other events like these include catwalks complete with fashions made from recycled materials.  CART’M, a reuse and recycling center on the Oregon coast, presents the TRASHION show every year to a sold out crowd of hundreds.

These contests have expanded into categories from structures that are integrated into buildings, to fine art displayed in local galleries. A community in Arizona established a yearly event called The Big Heap, complete with reuse categories and a market. The festival is so big now that it is a music venue for national bands and is covered by HGTV.  Reuse contests are an effective platform for jumping off into greater reuse possibilities.


Next Up: Curriculum Design

The Reclamation Administration is a great databank for reuse centers collaborative partnerships.  There are a few that stand out as particularly successful models.  Partnerships are an excellent way to get exposure, marketing, materials, and revenue, while supporting the local community.

Stay tuned for the next article in the series on partnering with educational institutions to create reuse curriculum.