Works and Days

Seattle ReCreative, Reed Winter Externship, Sage Freeburg

Sage Freeburg, junior English major, participated in the Reed winter externship program, working with Seattle ReCreative, a reuse and art center dedicated to reducing landfill waste.

                  On a dreary Monday morning, I hesitantly drove through Seattle traffic, guided by the oh-so-comforting voice of Siri directing me to “take a left onto Greenwood Avenue.” I did. “The destination is on your left, 8408 Greenwood Avenue. North.” I looked left. Nestled between an empty storefront and an eccentric looking shop with space shuttle stickers plastered to the window, was the home of Seattle ReCreative. My initial introduction to the store and program was delayed, as the windows were covered with curtains, so I was unaware of what great feat lay before me. It was the opening of the door that was my first look into the program, which reveled boxes, and boxes, and boxes of yarn, glitter, paint, nails, and the smiling face of co-founder Emily Korson.

                  Emily explained to me that they had just moved into the storefront, and were planning to open for a preview weekend that Saturday. “That means” she said “that we need to unpack and organize everything by Friday.” I must have looked a little intimidated because she gave me an understanding nod and said “Yes, I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to unpack everything by then.” To give a visual, it was almost impossible to walk from one end of the store to the other without pushing a box out of the way, or stepping over a pile of ceramic tiles. I honestly didn’t think it could be ready in just five days.

                  But, it was. After five days of work, Emily, her co-founder Jenna, and many, many more volunteers unpacked everything, built shelves, hung light fixtures, and learned to work a register program on an iPad. This was a great accomplishment by itself, and I was thoroughly impressed with us. However, I was more impressed with the work ethic of Emily and Jenna. Despite opening a store, despite various two-year-olds running around, despite a case of the flu, Seattle ReCreative not only opened their doors, but also applied for two different grants, created a volunteer recruitment plan, and started the process of organizing their first youth-workshop in the new space—the art of deconstruction. I learned many things during my short time with Seattle ReCreative—how to hammer a nail into brick, the best way to sort yarn, what kind of language is used for grant writing—but the most important thing I took away from my experience was an insider’s look at the outcomes of hard work. Emily and Jenna had built the program from scratch, and taken it from a small operation inside a church to a storefront retail and workshop space in a very short amount of time. Opening the store that week was a small peak into what can be done if you put your mind to something, and as I watched the members of Seattle ReCreative open their program to the city, I saw that determination, passion, and a little fun can truly get you anywhere you want to be. 

Tags: winter externship, art, reuse, waste reduction