Carve for a Cause is a pumpkin carving contest event and fundraiser put on by Architects Without Borders – Seattle (AWB-S), a nonprofit whose mission is to provide ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities in need. This annual affair that The RE Store has been a part of these last 3 years was held at Copperworks Distilling Company in downtown Seattle. The pumpkins are carved by a wide range of design, construction and other related firms who put their best and most creative carvers together to compete for the titles of best Traditional/Scary, Artistic/Freestyle, Starchitecture, Judge’s Choice, and People’s Choice. Seattle store staff, Nichole, took the charge for creating The RE Store’s entry, and along with help from fellow staffers Henry and D’Andre, created The Lantern-o-Jacks (top, left). While our entry received many compliments, we lost out on taking home a prize this year. The competition was stiff and the judges had tough choices in front of them with over 40 pumpkins entered this year! A few of the amazing entries can be seen above – even more can be seen on AWB-S’s Flickr set here. Thanks to AWB-S for a great event – and to Nichole, Henry and D’Andre for their creativity and carving skills!
Archive for Things you never knew about The RE Store
The Bellingham RE Store opened its doors in 1993 at the corner of Kellogg and Meridian, and the Seattle location opened in 1999. Jack Weiss, a council member for the city of Bellingham, recently recalled how The RE Store was created. When Jack was working as the Whatcom County Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator in the early 1990s, he hired Jeff Brown as a consultant to write the County Solid Waste Management Plan. Jeff Brown was then the executive director of the non-profit Environmental Resource Services (ERS), which later became RE Sources, the parent organization of The RE Store. According to Jack, Jeff was integral in his role as the brainchild of many of ERS’s early endeavors. The same could be said about Carol Rondello, who was Jeff’s go-to for both ideas and implementation. There were a number of others back then who also deserve credit in the evolution of what eventually became The RE Store, but Jeff and Carol carried most of the water. At that time, Jeff’s plan had the weight that state growth management plans do today. A few chapters of that plan provided the framework to counter the business-as-usual approach by the waste management industry. The plan was a couple of years in the making and was finally approved in 1994. The plan went on to become a template for other counties in the state. Jack marveled that he’d “never seen any plan on any subject that was as comprehensive and forward-looking as that one.” Back in 1991, Jeff brought the idea of a reusable material exchange operation to Jack after having seen the initial success of Urban Ore in Berkeley and Hippo Hardware in Portland. During the next 18 months, the two spent quite a bit of time fleshing out the idea to the point of searching the county and city for storefront sites for a county-run operation. The idea in its purest form was to accept materials from the public or contractors prior to disposal but also to scavenge the tip floor at the two incinerators and pull out reusable items. Jack hired ERS to do a survey of what was possible on the tip floor, because the true intent of this type of operation was waste diversion, and ERS knew their stuff. Jack decided to take $30,000 out of a grant award he’d received and apply it toward seed money for a material exchange through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. They received two responses to the RFP: one from ERS and another from County Construction Recyclers (CCR—a demolition landfill off of Hemmi Road in Bellingham, which is now closed). CCR had a good proposal, but Jack chose ERS because of their philosophical understanding of the RFP purpose. The focus was on waste diversion rather than money. Carl Weimer, now a Whatcom County council member, had at the time become the next director of ERS. After Jack signed off on the contract, Carl secured the site on Meridian where The RE Store now stands and hired Bruce Odom as manager. Ultimately, the launch of The RE Store was the result of many hands. “The one regret I have about The RE Store,” says Jack, “is that it never did fully explore waste diversion opportunities on tip floors of all types of waste, but it did establish a great salvaging operation for building materials.” As we celebrated 20 years this month, we remember Jeff Brown, Jack Weiss, Carol Rondello, Carl Weimer, Bruce Odum and everyone else who made the creation of The RE Store possible.
Its a boy, no wait, its a girl, no, its a diesel box truck with a lift gate! We have concluded our Truck Fund Raising Campaign that has been going since November of 2012. The new box truck with a lift gate is now serving us well in the Seattle operations. Of course, it is a used vehicle. It even came in a shade of blue. The new truck’s name is still pending but we welcome this beast of burden to the RE family.
This is huge – giving us a more reliable truck fleet to better serve you and communities throughout Washington State. Our salvage crews come to your job site, home, business, storage space or your grandpa’s crazy old barn to pick up and salvage materials. These busy bees visit over 1200 job sites each year. If the trucks break down, the crews end up wasting time and money, losing efficiency and materials. That takes away from the 5 million pounds of material that The RE Store diverts every year from being wasted. Those materials also save you money when you go to buy supplies for your remodel, decoration or art project.
We have been helping transform the building industry’s practices that generate one-quarter of all trash in the U.S.. Our crews are the back up that contractors need to reduce disposal fees on job sites, saving supplies to be reused. This is how we have created our jobs at The RE Store from what would have been garbage. This is how we are moving the reuse revolution forward.
And we thank you for your help.
The Recycled Art Program has been showcasing creative works made from used materials since its early days in the late 1990’s, with partners over the years that have included: Whatcom Museum, Allied Arts of Whatcom County, Blowing Sands Gallery, Haute Trash, New York Fashion Academy, the Museum of Northwest Art, Habitude and many others.
The weekend of April 5th and 6th kicked off the annual exhibition of art made from reclaimed and scrounged media. Downtown Gallery Walk in Bellingham on Friday night debuted the Allied Arts gallery, which was packed for most of the evening. Live music and a spread of hors d’oeuvres were provided by the good folks at Allied Arts. Artists, designers and appreciators mingled amongst the artwork and The RE Store’s own Eberhard Eichner walked around wearing a chair with some hilarious puppet legs, scaling down his normal 6’3″ stature.
Two pieces had interactive elements. Bill Englander’s electrical spark gap Jacobs Ladder with the big red button that sent an arc of electricity up between the two rods. Check out this previous blog post about Bill’s hands-on electrical gadgets. Big Daddy Grungeness by Jim Dixon is a wall-hung crab whose legs and claws do a fun shimmy when you yank on the counterweighted reclaimed rope.
One potent piece, Buchenwald Lace by Art Hyatt, was a wall-hung set of curtains made from rust-eaten corrugated metal roofing. The piece with its fabric-like folds referenced one of Nazi Germany’s first and largest concentration camps. Art shared that he had debated with himself quite heavily about whether or not to use barbed wire as the curtain ties, but opted for a less intense representation.
Self-illuminated pieces by one of Bellingham’s well-known lighting whizzes, Alana Coleman showed up at both of the Bellingham galleries, including these two pieces. Special thanks goes out to all of the participating artists and designers. Other pieces of note include:
- a pair of custom-built ice-climbing tools made from bike parts, reclaimed carbon fiber and other random bits by William Bradley
- a bodice and skirt made from maps and computer parts titled “Analog” by Jolee Nebert
- two larger than life-sized sculptures of semi-human looking creatures by Eberhard Eichner and Jason Brown
- light sconces made from drill bodies and old lp records by Graham Schodda who gets special kudos for helping hang The RE Store’s gallery in Bellingham
In the spirit of light(ness) during this holiday season, we celebrate the kooky cacophony of doomsayers and hopefuls with a tongue-in-cheek window display at The RE Store in Bellingham as we pass through another apocalyptic date, 12/21/2012.
- Shabby crabby bomb shelter decor blending vintage survival gear with reclaimed building materials
- Paranoid protection wear on Calamity Jane contrasted by Skippy’s celebration finery
- Basic food staples displayed in opposition to large quantities of sugary junk food
- Out in the big world, threatening end-of-the-world prophetic warnings counter-balance with inspirational messages of the new Mayan calendar cycle that begins.
Please take our attempts at lightness as they are intended.
Now can we all get on with it?
“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”
by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member
The RE Store’s Seattle field crew braved the high seas, perilous mountain heights, and speeding trains this November to bring home the goods. Granted, those high seas were on Lake Union, the perilous mountains were made from Plaster of Paris, and that speeding train was actually a scale model. Regardless of the actual danger, those of us on the field crew were in unfamiliar territory as we completed our first ever boat and train pickup (okay, model train and dingy pickup).
From the top of the Smith Tower, to a Chase Bank vault, to a Stephen King movie set near Magnuson Park, the field crew gets to salvage some pretty interesting buildings and places. But we’re not all salvage all the time. In fact, The RE Store offers free residential and commercial pickup services across Western Washington. This means that those of us on the field crew spend half of our time picking up donations of reusable building materials. So, we were only half surprised when the first work order of the day simply read “boat” with an address and time.
Well, it was a boat alright; still floating and everything. Unfazed, we hauled her out of Lake Union and onto dry land. In this case, dry land was a narrow dock covered in metal cleats, ropes and other obstacles. Normally, we would rely upon our trusty furniture dolly, Wheelie Dan, to move such an item. Unfortunately, the dock was impassable this way. Fret not dear reader, for the field crew is gifted with almost, but not quite, superhuman abilities. With our powers combined, we managed to manhandle the eight foot dingy down the dock, up the gangway, and across the parking lot to Fuso the truck.
While the field crew has loaded countless oversized, odd-sized, and even fun-sized items onto Fuso, a boat was indeed a first. Normally, we use our space age aluminum incline plane, also known as a ramp, to load the trucks. However, it would have blocked traffic in the busy parking lot. Therefore, we opted to load the dingy the old fashioned way (the donor was kind enough to help, too). As always, we observed proper lifting techniques and even followed Feng Shui principles to orient the dingy properly once it was on board Fuso.
After unloading at our Ballard retail store, it was time to move some mountains and a train or two. To be specific, a working N scale train layout. Of course, this was not the only thing on our list; we just happened to save it during the course of salvaging a house. Luckily, the handmade train layout, complete with a detailed plaster mountain range and tunnel, was quite manageable. It took just two of us to get it up the ramp and onto the truck. In addition to the train layout, the RE Store netted an electric range, dishwasher, numerous pieces of furniture, solid fir doors, and pounds and pounds of great door hardware, drawer pulls, and cabinet knobs.
While the RE Store makes every effort to save reusable building materials from the waste stream, we sometimes stretch that definition provided that an item can be re-purposed. That said, a dingy can be reused as a dingy of course, or as a planter, a shed roof, or many other wondrous things. And who wouldn’t want a model train to go with their dingy?
Things like lift gates would have made these jobs easier on our field crew – help by donating to our Truck Fund so that we can Keep On Rolling and salvaging great materials and fun objects like this.
We introduced you to our truck fleet a few weeks ago here on our blog, connecting you to our trusty flock – Lily, Herman, Blue, Possum, Fuso and Clutch. They are at the root of what we do here at The RE Store, giving us the ability to stock the stores with great stuff, and fulfilling our mission of keeping useable materials out of the landfill. Besides their main ‘day jobs’ of previewing and picking up materials from close to 2000 job sites each year that they bring to the stores, they also help us with all sorts of other outreach tasks allowing us to spread the word of our mission beyond the stores:
- Getting our inspiring displays to the many trade shows and educational community events that we participate in – such as our annual Flower & Garden show garden display (above, top left), and countless community festivals
- Transporting recycled art materials and recycled art pieces as a part of our Recycled Arts Show (above, bottom right)
- Bringing raw materials to schools and festivals for folks to get creative with ‘junk’ at our Art Station (above, bottom middle)
- Hauling trash from our annual beach clean up events partnered up with the North Sound Bay Keeper (above, bottom left) – creating art out of trash on these occasions
- Supporting meaningful events that our parent organization, RE Sources, puts on with keynote speakers like Denis Hayes, Bill McKibben, and Daniel Kammen
- Dressing up for parades, including winning the Mayors Award in the 2006 Bellingham Ski-to-Sea Grand Parade (above, top right)
Thanks to Lily, Herman, Blue, Possum, Fuso and Clutch for selflessly helping us keep spreading the Word of Salvage!
We like to move stuff around just as much as any American. The thing that The RE Store does differently is that each load that we carry on our trucks save precious building materials from the brink of doom by way of landfill or incinerator. It is a lot of work and we love it. Our crews drive over 100,000 miles each year if you combine all six of our trucks that roam throughout Western Washington and occasionally East of the mountains.
We have our weekly “truck love” maintenance schedule that insures our trusty steeds stay watered, fed and in as good a condition as we can keep them. Neither of the Seattle trucks have a lift gate. We use ramps or brute strength to get everything on and off and on and off and on and off every day. The trucks have hauled materials from job sites that include homes, businesses and storage facilities. We carry amazing reuse displays to trade shows or haul our Recycled Art Station to community events. The trucks have even hauled tons of trash picked up from our beach clean-up projects as a part of the annual Recycled Arts Show. We utilize biodiesel in our diesel trucks and work to minimize storm water run off from our job sites.
As is true to our car culture, The RE Store’s fleet of trucks all have their own personalities:
Lily is a 2000 Ford F250 Crew Cab pickup with over 133,000 miles.
She is lily-white and is the truck that up to six of our Bellingham crew travels in. Lilly witnesses the most progressive conversations and brainstorms, due to her community-building roomy interior. She also carries lots of tools, but not a huge amount of materials. She loves to pull trailers and heave large timbers on her beefy rack. We wonder if she is a pig at heart, as she gets stuck in the mud all too often with her out-of-commission four wheel drive. Lilly has has spent a lot of time on overnight projects out in the San Juan Islands. Bellingham crew member, Charlie Myers, slept in Lilly’s back seat on a Lopez Island job site for four nights. His tent had collapsed under a downpour, so he made due in Lily.
Herman is a 2006 GMC-Isuzu 12-foot box van with over 137,000 miles.
Herman is the heavy lifter with a lift gate, allowing one crew member to do a lot of work and keep stuff dry. Herman is our workhorse and is the newest member of our fleet. He was an exciting replacement, 2 years ago, for our old open bed pickup, Graywolf. He is named after Mt. Herman that located close to Mt. Baker (big and white). Some of our staff wonder if Herman has a crush on Lily.
Blue is a 1997 Chevy 3500 with a 12-foot flatbed, the oldest and most tired of our hard-working Bellingham fleet with a whopping 187,000 miles as of October 2012.
Blue has hauled millions of pounds (seriously) of lumber and large items back from thousands of job sites over the years. You name it, Blue has carried it. We have rebuilt the gates twice that close in the sides out of bleacher boards and rebuilt the bed once, out of salvaged 2×6 tongue and groove decking, all on our own. When Blue’s rear steel gates went missing, former crew member Gabe Gonzalez welded up new ones for us.
Possum is a white, 2001 Isuzu flatbed with over 120,000 miles on the odometer.
We have had Possum for close to a decade. He was named Possum because a possum was living in the Seattle store that evaded capture for weeks. This trusty steed has hauled from more than 2000 job sites. Every brick load over the last seven years came back to the Seattle store on Possum’s strong back. Possums gates are made out of our bleacher board and the deck currently needs replacement, like Blue received.
Fuso is a white 1994 Mitsubishi flatbed that we put a dump bed on with 175,000 miles.
Fuso has been the main green demolition / deconstruction truck thanks to the dump bed that we installed after buying it in 2007. 15 or more houses have been deconstructed and hauled back to the store in Fuso. This is our only Seattle truck with a working radio, and it rarely is changed from KEXP or KUOW radio stations. Fuso’s side gates are also built out of our favorite wide-plank lumber material, bleacher boards. These bleacher boards sport a patina that could only be created by decades of wiggling and giggling adololescents during their school assemblies and sports events.
Clutch is a white 1989 Nissan pickup that was donated to our organization in 2002 with over 160,000 miles now.
Clutch is the scout for our Seattle field services and sees the most mileage of all of our trucks. This old friend previews between 1200 and 1500 jobs. Clutch doesn’t have a working radio, so Clutch hears a lot of Joel, our Seattle field manager, talking to himself. Clutch proudly wears the rack that lived formerly on our previous preview rig, Scout.
Before serving The RE Store, Clutch was used by our parent non-profit, RE Sources, for hauling recycling education materials to hundreds of Whatcom County school classrooms.
Check out this great examples of alternative transportation in the construction industry with local remodelers, A-1 Builders, in Bellingham, commuting to a major remodel job site via bicycle. Read the article on page 16 of American Bicyclist.
The Bellingham Fire Department was established in 1904. Their well-seasoned department supports fire fighter training for many of the districts in Whatcom County Washington. Annual “Forcible Entry Training” uses props to simulate locked buildings that the crews must break into, in case a fire requires rescue access to the inside of a building.
The Bellingham Fire Department uses salvaged materials from The RE Store and Overhead Door Company to help reduce costs in their training exercises. It also makes good sense to utilize already used doors that will be destroyed anyways in the training exercises. Watch these brave and highly regarded men and women in the following video as they keep themselves fit and ready for the next emergency.
If your community group or business needs materials, The RE Store welcomes your requests for building materials, gift certificates for fundraising events and other in-kind support.
Mad scientist reuse master, Eberhard Eichner, has conducted secret tests on reclaimed materials. In the REvision Division’s lead-shielded underground testing facility, a chunk of reclaimed bleacher board with masonite veneer sat in a bucket of water for over 4 weeks. The mad scientist’s disfigured assistant occasionally took it out to bake it in the oven or place it in the freezer. The piece showed some obvious distress, but the masonite held on strongly and no splinters showed in the butt end.
[Note: Of the previous statements, 85 percent of the information is correct.]
It takes a village
The materials testing was done as research for a public facility picnic bench, built by The RE Store’s REvision Division. Returning customers, Wolfgang & Angelika Schlager, got together with their pet owner club, Grateful Dogs Off Leash Association, to raise funds for a picnic table. The table was to be placed not in a private backyard, but as a communal gathering and resting place in the off-leash dog area for the small dogs section at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham. The group educating people to be responsible pet owners, providing waste bags at Lake Padden, Bloedel-Donovan, and Post Point parks.
To have it built, the dog-running neighbors collected the money to fund the bench through donations at pie socials, cookie bakes and such. Finally the table was done. The masonite faced solid fir bleacher board was used for the seats and underpinning with some gorgeous slabs of Local Source Forest Products cedar for the top. All got braced, screwed and double screwed, bolted, sealed, oiled and otherwise built to last. The table was hauled off by the Schlagers with confidence.
Two days later Eberhard received a call. One cannot just place a picnic table into a city park! A parks and recreation department official had to inspect the item to not be some rinky-dinky, wobbly, fly-by-night affair. Upon inspection by the proper authorities, it was found to be sound by the official from Bellingham City Parks and Recreation. “This thing will last you guys a long time,” was the quote. This is as official of a city approval as the unsuspecting dog owners were ever hoping for.
Dog pros and cons
The dogs had something to say as well. Raci, the Schlager’s Saint Bernard said (rough translation), “The benches make it much harder to poach food off the table, but it makes for a nice shady spot and another place to leave my mark.”
If you want your own picnic table or have other ideas for furniture, functional or decorative finish work, The REvision Division does custom work and project consultation. Our design master will spend a complimentary 15 minutes with you to discuss your project, suggesting materials and ideas to help you save money and make the most of your used building materials. Visit The RE Store in Bellingham on the first Saturday of each month between 11am and 3pm to discuss your project with Eberhard and the REvision Division.