● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
In February of 2008, mere months after learning about the concept of “creative reuse,” former corporate worker Donna Sangwin founded the Roseville-based reCREATE
– a non-profit organization that collects discarded, clean and usable items from local businesses that can be used for environmental education lessons and sustainable art projects at schools throughout the local community.
With a mission to help lessen the community’s overall waste footprint, reCREATE is helping bridge the rather large gap between local business and education by uniting the two worlds in a socially responsible partnership. It not only serves the interests of both, but also those of the global community. “We want everyone to be aware of how their day-to-day choices can impact our community and the environment,” Sangwin says. “We believe that, collectively, everyone can make small choices, like ditching one-use plastic water bottles for a reusable one that will [greatly] impact the amount of trash we generate.”
To teach this message, whether through the organization’s mobile program – Rolling reCREATE – or its Art Center on Vernon Street, lessons follow a California Standards Based education model. Among its sustainable offerings, the Art Center provides a designated Teachers Resource Area for educators, hosts green birthday celebrations, and offers a calendar of 6-10 different drop-in and ongoing art programs for curious and concerned persons of all ages. New offerings include classes in mask making, holiday gifting, birdhouse construction and green cleaning.
The Art Center also serves as exhibit space for reuse artists and their work, helping reCREATE foster connections between local artists and their community. “There are so many talented individuals, and that I look forward to building those relationships,” says Sangwin, who admits that although the economy has forced reCREATE to scale back initial plans for its Art Center, it has responded to the community’s renewed interest in thriftiness by offering great finds with inexpensive price tags; unique “upcycled" trinkets and more practical items such as sustainable fabric samples.
Although a relatively new nonprofit, reCREATE has made an immediate impact. For its efforts thus far, the California Integrated Waste Management Board awarded the organization, along with the City of Roseville, a two-year Reuse Grant to help fund some of its signature education programs. And, by planning a spring fundraiser that Sangwin describes as a cross between Junkyard Wars and Iron Chef – one that will pit teams of artists in a sculpt-off competition using cast-off materials – reCREATE is hoping to raise the monetary resources necessary to further its mission, which would not be possible without the help of volunteers to sort through materials, assemble art kits and call local businesses for their trash!
For a full list of materials acceptable for collection, or information about reCREATE, its Art Center or volunteer opportunities, visit recreate.org or call 916-770-9880, or email Donna Sangwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.