Explore Ecology’s Art From Scrap launches fundraiser for 30th birthday
Turning 30 doesn’t always call for an existential crisis, lots of wine and self-deprecating humor. For Art From Scrap, 30 years is a milestone to celebrate.
The staff planned a large party to commemorate the day but like many events nowadays, COVID-19 changed their plans. So, now, they launched a virtual celebration and a $30-for-30-years fundraiser.
Art From Scrap started with a handful of parents who wanted to provide more art supplies to students. They found materials that would otherwise be trash and turned it into an opportunity for kids to get creative.
For years, they collected skateboard wheel shavings from a local shop. The students enjoyed these curly, bright plastic pieces and the other unique salvage.
It grew from the parents’ garage to an empty airplane hangar (rented for a nominal fee). They began teaching about the environment alongside their eco-friendly art projects.
The organization expanded and renamed itself to Explore Ecology, an environmental education and arts program that reaches around 30,000 kids each year.
It’s located at 302 E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara, and a variety of ages visit for the Art From Scrap Creative Reuse Store, a shop of secondhand art materials at a bargain.
“We can’t open yet. It’s not feasible the way the store is set up because you kind of have to search through things,” Tara Patrick, Art From Scrap Creative Reuse director, said. “It’s kind of like a treasure hunt, so it’s not like the greatest place to go during the pandemic.”
The store closed in March but recently opened an online shop and an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday parking lot sale. Staff members pick out a portion of the stock, usually priced at about $1, and sell it outside under COVID-19 precautions.
A small portion of the stock is available online and gives just a taste of what Art From Scrap offers.
There are ceramic baby doll parts, old photographs, mosaic tiles and seemingly random supplies. Customers are encouraged to get creative and envision materials in a new way.
“I love seeing the kids’ faces when they come into the shop on a field trip,” outreach director Jill Cloutier said. “You can see the wheels spinning in people’s heads. It was really sparking people’s imagination and creativity.”
About 400 to 500 pounds of materials are donated each week from individuals and local businesses, estimates Ms. Patrick.
“Hundreds of pounds or thousands of pounds of material does not go into the landfill,” she said. “There’s such a big span of what we get, from like a crate to beautiful pieces of beads and jewelry.”
She plans on keeping the online store available even when stores are able to reopen. But for now, everything is virtual, including the field trips.
“There’s a lot of that mental health aspect to crafting and art. At least for me, it’s really important to still have access to those things,” she said.
She will dig around in the store for her customers when they request certain supplies. And she’s been able to maintain the school materials program, a service offering bulk supplies to teachers for $1 per student each year.
The art workshops are now online, and they teach a craft to kids every week and a more advanced project every month.
They hope the store’s customers will participate in the 30th birthday celebration by sending in video testimonies and fun anecdotes about their projects. And, if possible, spare 30 bucks.
Donators will be entered into a raffle for free workshop tickets and other prizes. Art From Scrap hopes to raise $30,000 and has secured about $2,500 over the first three days.
“We’re so excited that this community treasure has been around for 30 years,” Ms. Cloutier said. “We have so many amazing customers that we’re very appreciative of being a part of this creative hub.”
Art From Scrap is the Central Coast’s only creative reuse store and has been a community fixture for 30 years.