Recycle, Reuse & Art

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In the short and sweet, I wanted an art space for my children.  One special, magical nook where they could fall into creativity amidst supplies, inspiration and joy.  I wanted a custom cabinet maker to fall out of the sky and build my mind’s dream.  But, I only had nap time and an in-dream’s-only budget.  Over on Today’s Mama I wrote a piece today about what I created so my babes can create called Art Space on a Whim.

I’ve always known young author’s need a place to behave like real writers, just as budding artists need a studio space.  Under the microwave and beside the coat closet I’ve created just that…  To read the rest, click [HERE].

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In the late, recent hours of evening when Fahrenheit’s drop gave way to snow, I walked along empty island streets until I stumbled upon a more quiet, more tranquil space inside my head.  I left one house, still.  Sleeping husband, sleeping babes. Not far from my doorstep a very public, very special place exists:  The Island Magazine Exchange Rack.

It’s outside the hardware store, on a corner beside the gas station.  I love The New Yorker, Harper’s, World Literature Today, and Sun.  Amidst these fine collections of words, my mind melts into a better, more adult place.  But, to be perfectly honest I feel like I’ve struck gold when I find recent issues of US Weekly, In Touch and Star.  On more than one occasion, I’ve done a joy jig while clutching my celebrity celebrations.  I read the fine print, too, telling of who ordered what kind of sushi roll in Tahiti and where I can find a knock-off Oscar dress.  Really.  Good.  Stuff.  It’s an eraser when my mind races.

What keeps The Island Magazine Exchange Rack going is a commitment to bring gently perused magazine, never catalogues, to this place when we’re through with them.  Last month’s Sunset, Good Old Boat and National Fisherman ends up in deserving hands.     Island-wide recycling bins miss out, while islanders really make out.  Once [gasp] I mistakenly brought an out-of-the-mailbox Garnet Hill catalogue with my stack of Architectural Digest and Cruising World.  Days later, I received a hand written note and a torn off piece of paper was mailed to me:

We found this [mailing label from said catalogue].  The shelves are for magazines ONLY.  Have a nice day.  Love, The Rack


I’m not ready to embrace a Flea Market.  I love only tag sales [New England term for a garage sale], thrift stores, antique stores, roadside free boxes.  And now, because of Orcas Island I love the dump. 

Yup, the dump.


Well, Orcas Island’s dump really is a waste transfer station because the landfill reached capacity in the recent past.  The Exchange excepts donations of unwanted everythings:  TVs, books, clothes, doll houses, easels, appliances, practically out-of-the-box weed eaters, unopened boxes of tile, vinyl.  There’s magic here.  I went while six months pregnant with our third child and, on the ferry ride over, wished for a new changing table and a cherry sleigh crib.  I found both beneath an evergreen tree, under a tarp.  The volunteers that day who witnessed my happy face would only take $10 because, as they said, shouldn’t everyone have their day made twice in one day?!?


On a recent trip we donated a van full of toys, clothes and housewares.  Lucy said, Oh I wish I could find a Barbie Castle.  Bingo.  Lesson learned:  never tell your children they can pick one item and one item only and only one item, yes whatever it is, one item for you both to share.  The item might just be the four foot wide folding, expanding Barbie Castle.  Magic.  


Volunteers organize all these treasures under tents, in rooms, beside tree trunks.  It’s really a strip mall of goodies.  This was, someone else’s trash stays out of a landfill.  People can exchange money or other goods for anything at The exchange.  I gave a day old loaf of banana bread while once visiting my midwife for a wonderful easel for the girls.  Anything The Exchange cannot use or sell is given to mainland’s Salvation Army for recycling or resale.  Extra money made through Exchange’s sales is locally donated to non profits, charities and schools.  Love this place.  


When our garage is done, I’ll be able to weld metal artwork again.  My tanks and torches will have a small studio space.  Hooray.  The exchange will have endless material and endless inspiration, even when it hangs from the trees.  Magic.

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7 Comments

  • I really think you guys have found a true gem of a place to live. We must get out there for a visit.

    If we brought Theo to your dump I think he'd be willing to stay with your family forever. Since your package arrived he talks of Betty non-stop. “His friend Betty”…I think he associates her with the book you sent, which we read at least twice a day.

    When I go to the library and they have current Us and People magazines I squeal! Throw em' on the top of my stack along with design/architecture, organic gardening, Vogue…love it all!

    ps…I bought a manual for the Canon T2i. I figured I should just start with my exact camera and figure out what's what before I dig into anything more advanced. Such a new concept for me. So grown up!

    So much love over there. xo

  • Christine says:

    This place reminds me of the Longmeadow Dpw swap shop. There are great items there, we have managed to find a chimes basketball hoop and a wagon. It is nice that these places exist, the amount of waste in this country is astronomical and being able to utilize someone elses disgarded item is awesome. There is nothing more gratifying than getting exactly what you want for free. As you know this town can be very judgemental but those who judge are the fools.
    Chris

  • Christine says:

    This place reminds me of the Longmeadow Dpw swap shop. There are great items there, we have managed to find a chimes basketball hoop and a wagon. It is nice that these places exist, the amount of waste in this country is astronomical and being able to utilize someone elses disgarded item is awesome. There is nothing more gratifying than getting exactly what you want for free. As you know this town can be very judgemental but those who judge are the fools.
    Chris

  • Bridge says:

    what an amazing place! I love thrifting, but love getting things for free even more. My favorite place to go is the Telluride Free Box. Yes, I have salvaged cashmere sweaters, true religion jeans for my daughter and woodstock wind chimes.

  • Rani says:

    this is wonderful! My girls have their art table right next to mine in the living room! Their pens are always available! I’m very inspired by your organization and I am realizing it’s time for an early spring re-organization!

  • I was *just* reading about creating art spaces for children. This is awesome! Nice work.

    I’ve always tried to stop myself from saying, “I can’t wait for Juniper to (blank)” because every childhood stage goes so quickly and I want to be present and enjoy the stage we’re in, but…. I can’t wait until Juniper wants to draw more than she wants to eat the crayons. And up towards the top of my priority list is making a space for her to do just that.

  • @ Katie, please know Theo would be safe with us. I'll take good care of him. Do you find you forget what you're read in the manual? I've read it so many times it seems I need to wear it around my neck. I can't wait until I've memorized my camera.
    @ Bridge, take me to Telluride and to that free space. It sounds dreamy.
    @ Clove, Olive (16 months) loves the art space. She uses block crayons and big pencils like drumsticks and, sometimes, as they're intended.

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