Friday, November 16, 2012

SCRAP* SF

Best field trip ever! #sanfrancisco
On my first day with Creative Bug... really my first hour, I was taken on a surprise field trip. We headed to SCRAP. Every time I had read about it online, I felt like it was crazy that I had never gone. And now I was on my way, with my sweet new friend, Ava. We drove down Army st. (now called Cesar Chavez Blvd.) under the freeway over passes and beyond my old neighborhood of Precita Park to go to the more industrial part of town I remembered fetching lumber from as a girl. We parked down a small street, next to a huge warehouse surrounded by chain link fences that had been decorated and embellished with junk and trash in the most inspiring way. SCRAP! I only have my phone pics, but that will give you a taste. I stepped into the cavernous depths and looked up at shelves and shelves of rescued materials organized to the last little washer and wire. Each aisle reached up to the old wooden rafters and was devoted to its own specialty: paper, textiles, wood, glass, toys... amazing!





Heaven!#sfscrap Rescued materials up to the rafters! #sfscrap
As I looked through the boxes of of wooden scraps, there was a section separated from the rest and labeled "free of nails and safe for children's projects". I started to cry. Ava didn't question my tears... my goodness, this place would bring any one with my passion for recycled ingredients to their knees. But it was something deeper that had been stirred... a memory. A piece of me. A coming home. Ok, I know I'm all drama these days... but 2012 has been nothing short of dramatic for me.

I called my mom later that day, and I told her I went to SCRAP. Synchronicty is my middle name, as you know. She was currently on the opposite coast in Atlanta presenting at the National Association for the Education of Young Children's annual conference. Her workshop was titled: Re.Cycle, Re.Purpose, Re.Use: Incorporating Found Materials for Creative Expression into the Early Childhood Curriculum. I come from good stock, eh?  She confirmed the recognition I had felt, and then some.

So here's some San Francisco history for you. SCRAP was founded in 1976 "to breathe new life into old objects and reduce waste". It currently diverts about 200 tons of materials that would be heading to the landfill and makes it accessible to artists, tinkerers and educators. The 70's were the beginning of a cultural consciousness about the environment and San Francisco was at the forefront. My mother, an artist and educator, took me to Scrap frequently when she worked at The Toy Center (thus the familiarity even though it was housed in a new location). In 1977, with a Ford Foundation Grant and funding from the Rosenburg Foundation, my mother and a close friend founded The Toy Center- which provided an innovative and much needed service to low income families and parent playgroups. With the help from the SF Childcare Switchboard (now the Children's Council) they rented an old double storefront on 24th street near Mission St. It had been an old pharmacy with gorgeous glass cabinets and oak counters. They transformed it into a community space to teach workshops on how to make educational toys out of recycled materials.  The supplies came from none other than SCRAP. There were recycled cardboard ice cream bins filled with odds and ends to reinvent, including those little scraps of wood I recognized at the current SCRAP. I remember spending hours tinkering at the Toy Center when my sister was a baby. My mother carried her around in a Snuggly when she wasn't teaching other mothers how to use a dremel jigsaw to create their own wooden puzzles from photographs.  It was my job to care for her when my mother had to demonstrate the power tools. I still have one of those puzzles somewhere in my attic. I love that puzzle.

It's not like I didn't remember that The Toy Center was a part of my childhood... of course, I did. It was always part of my family's lore... but last week when I returned to San Francisco to film workshops on how to make something out of nothing...
I felt the full circle of a family legacy falling into place
... something akin to putting all of the pieces together in one of my mother's puzzles. Sometimes the road we follow is filled with unchartered territory and other times it's the continuation of your heritage. I think this path I'm on is a bit of both.  I'm so proud to be my mother's daughter!

But that's enough story time and lofty talk for this Friday, the bike inner tubes I brought home are calling out for some experimentation! Do you think my sewing machine can handle them? I bet you'll be making something this weekend, too...

*photo taken by my son who's quite interested in those tubes!
Pin It

26 comments:

  1. Geez Maya, you get me every time! I love how there is so much heritage, but also so much love between you, your mother, your children. It's what I strive for with my own children and when I'm feeling worn out, a quick peek at your blog always restores me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for that generous acknowledgement, Cinnamon. My mom and I have worked at our relationship very hard. It was not always in the place it is now... but there has always been an abundance of love. I think that's where it all starts, and I know that you have that with yours. I see it in your pics and here it in your words all of the time. xxx

      Delete
  2. We have something similar here in Rochester, NY, although not as grand. The Child Care Council here runs a Recycle Shop, that is wonderful! If I'm ever in SF again, I'll have to check SCRAP out. If you're ever up in Rochester, you'll have to look up the Recycle Shop. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Amanda! My friend (annekata) and I are going to take a field trip to Rochester now... thank you for the heads up!

      Delete
  3. Oooh, OK, now I HAVE to get to San Francisco sometime soon here, thank you for the information about that great place!

    ReplyDelete
  4. An amazing story & connection. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. you never cease to amaze me and I just loved driving down shotwell and hearing some of those stories.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very few people have had that kind of intimacy with my past Stef. I loved sharing our drive through the old hood. Dinner was fantastic too! Miss you!

      Delete
  6. Your post today brought tears to my eyes!Thank you!AriadnefromGreece!

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is one of our favorite places to go to. Whenever I drop off things to donate, I usually come out with something else on hand (in small quantity). Another place we like to visit is Urban Ore on the other side of the bay. Thank you for sharing your story. Very heartwarming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll have to check out Urban Ore next time. Yay for the Bay Area's abundance in rescued treasures!

      Delete
  8. AAAK! I had just planned a long overdue trip to SCRAP for the week after thanksgiving to gather supplies for my stitching class! Beautiful story & I love the history about your mama....thank you for sharing.
    Hope you are well & had a great trip back here (again so soon!) Can't wait to see your video...will give me the kick to join now.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Susan!! Hope your classes are continuing to go well. SCRAP is the perfect resource for you!

      Delete
  9. I got a good dose of that magic nostalgia mentioned in your post just by reading the street name "Army". Ahhh, miss it. Nice to run into, flipping an unexpected memory switch.

    Plus, I love SCRAP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know it as Army too? Here's to the good ol' days in SF!

      Delete
  10. hi maya- scrap sounds amazing. i live in athens, ga and was @ the naeyc conference and attended your mom's session. i am a little bummed that i didn't make the connection to your mom because i have been reading about her barn forever. you constantly inspire me w/ your truth, hope and creativity. loved the post and your mom's workshop was totally inspiring as well. happy thanks-giving! bette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bette, Bette, Bette!! This is one of the most amazing comments, connections on my blog EVER! Sorry it's taken me several days to respond. My mom was so stunned and thrilled at our small world and wished that she'd said something about the barn in the workshop that would have triggered your AHA! Happy you got to attend her workshop!

      Delete
  11. Wow! That just brought back my own memory. Growing up, my parents were teachers and had that long stretch of summer vacation to fill up. Every other year we'd drive from Illinois to California to visit family. One summer, in the late '70s or very early '80s, found us in SF and there was a plaza at Ghirardelli Square that had a roped off area with activities for kids. Inside the rope were tables of wood scraps and tools for kids to make anything they could imagine. My brother and I spent hours there. Wonder if this was part of SCRAP? My brother is now a building-construction technology project manager in DC and I am a stay-at-home-mom/gatherer of inspiration/thrifter/crafter and more! Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet it was! Love that it may have sparked something so deeply in your brother and you. That's why exposure to a wide variety of materials and resources is so important for developing minds and spirits.

      Delete
  12. I have chills. How amazing that must have been for you! I would love to have been at your mom's talk. Before kids, (and I guess still!) I was a early childhood educator. I would have loved to hear her thoughts on the topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll see if the brochure to the workshop is available... wishing as I often do that she had a blog, too. She's quite astounding.

      Delete
  13. OMG that sounds like a fantastic place! I wish SF wasn't at the other end of the world for me. I have never heared of anything simular, even here in "recycle country" aka Germany ;-)
    I have used tubes though, as dpd knitting needle covers. I cut out two circles, pintched whole through them at the outer circle, pulled a strong elastic through those and connected the two covers with the elastics (measure length of needles) Voila, very handy if you knit a lot on the go.
    I can't wait to hear what you came up with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How ingenious! I'm totally blown away by your ingenuity! I wonder why there isn't a place like that in Germany... maybe in the larger cities?

      Delete
  14. Maya! I loved reading this post. It was like digging through those bins with you all over again.
    A great first trip as friends : ) Here's to many more!

    xo-AH

    ReplyDelete
  15. Maya! We need to get you to visit reCREATE next time you are in Northern California!! Love seeing creative reuse centers being highlighted!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails