Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013

Upcycle Innovation

Upcycle Innovation

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by reDiscover Center

Ready to Innovate? Imagine an entire generation of young Angelenos who grow up molding, repurposing, and upcycling discarded material bound for the landfill? Thomas Edison said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” The Upcycle Innovation project will provide the “junk” and the tools needed for creative exploration and invention. Thomas Edison also said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” By procuring “junk” for reuse the Upcycle Innovation project makes it easy and affordable to experiment and fail…. and try again. An award of $100,000 will provide key seed funding for the development of an exciting full service facility, dedicated to providing year-round tinkering, hands-on, arts projects for children, families, teachers and artists. Our project increases the opportunity for cultural participation through engaging artistic activities and fosters support for increased cultural participation. By turning an abundant local resource – trash – in creative material we make it affordable.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Using everyday discards donated by local businesses reDiscover’s range of hands-on, educational programs and workshops has served 24,500 people. We are proud of our Arts Earth Partnership certification and our 2007 Sustainable Quality Award from the City of Santa Monica. We strive to maintain a low carbon footprint and our current warehouse-like facility for reusable waste helps our local businesses and households to do the same. Our artistic caliber has been recognized by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Santa Monica GLOW Festival (2008 and 2013), the San Jose Zero1 Festival, the Long Beach Arts Council A LOT Initiative and Ryman Arts with a Drawing Inspiration Award.

We are also very proud of the inspiration our center provides to children. As 9 year old Beatriz said during a field trip, “I could live at this place!”

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We are currently working with the UCLA Social Enterprise Academy on the business plan for this project. This plan will be completed this May.

Within the non-profit sector we have had success collaborating with other organizations. The Skirball Center, PS Arts, Otis School of Art and Design and the UCLA Lab School are current organizations utilizing our materials and teacher training services. The Upcycle Innovate project will expand our ability to work with them.

ReDiscover was founded by a small group of parents and professional designers. Their expertise will be an asset in the design and fabrication of the Upcyle Innovate workshop.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Creative reuse, such as the Upcycle Innovation project, provides a triple bottom line for the city by benefiting its people, the environment and the economy. We will measure the project through these three criteria.

People: Our goal will be to serve 8,500 people (doubling the number served last year) in the first year through our various programs. We will also work with our network of educators to refine and evaluate our programs to serve a wide range of learning styles and ages.

Environment and Economy: There are many ways of measuring the positive environmental and economic impact reuse has on our city. These include, but are not limited, to: • # of tons diverted from the landfill • $ avoided disposal costs (donor/seller) • $ avoided purchase costs (recipient/buyer) • $ value of materials donated (donor) • $ revenues earned (donor/seller) • # of job created or retained • # of families/individuals/organizations assisted

We will work with Arts Earth Partnership and the Reuse Alliance to create an appropriately scaled evaluation tool.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

In 2013 our project will benefit Angelenos by providing a full service center for hand-on arts. Our goal is to open the project in the Fall and serve 700 people a month. Additionally, we will save an anticipated 3 tons of reusable materials from the landfill. As the project grows in the coming years these numbers will grow.

ReDiscover Center programs benefit the youth of Los Angeles by providing art-based instruction at a time when school funding cuts have all but eliminated arts education. The programs are designed to promote collaboration, community stewardship, and critical thinking skills. Our Upcycle Innovation project will expand these programs.

The Los Angeles Almanac projects by 2050 the population of our city will be 11,434,565. The impact of such a population boom on the volume of waste without dedicated space and resources to curb behavior cannot currently be measured. By creating a space dedicated to engagement through full-scale arts and tinkering programs, and triangulation with community organizations and leaders, we can realistically reach our goal of an entire generation of Angelenos growing up with the not just the understanding the concept of repurposing, but actually having taken an active part in the process.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050 Los Angeles will still be a global leader in the arts and design fields due to its strong arts education infrastructure. Every child and their various learning styles, will have an outlet for their creativity providing more opportunities for their career and for a vibrant, connected life. The reDiscover Center will be successful when it can support these goals.