This week the crew arrived at La Réserve des arts – a warehouse dedicated to the recycling of materials and art supplies. It is truly a unique and one-of-a-kind space due to the vast amount of recycled materials that are organized throughout. The warehouse was created in part by necessity due to the economic crisis of 2008 and drew inspiration from the for-profit space named Material for the Arts NYC which holds a similar recycling purpose. The staff at La Réserve des arts educates, collects, values and resells the materials to price-tiered memberships established by tax categories (e.g. student, professional, etc.) to nearly 4000 artists! They expect their business model can be scaled up or down and re-created in all kinds of other places for similar zero-waste applications. This concept would make a significant impact if applied to art schools.
While we were at La Réserve des arts, we were informed by representatives about different other mobilizations at the Paris Hub of MakeSense:
Tinou briefed us on Waste Collectors and discussed how waste should be managed and not created in the first place. This included ideas such as circular economy (reusing plastics in circular production and keeping them out of the organic cycle), ecological backpack (considering the true cost of a 150g cell phone could result in 10 kilos of waste), and how acting socially can help us act ecologically (renting/sharing resources and/or repair cafes).
Maud explained a new 1 year old mobilization called “Fair Wear” that started from a screening of the documentary “The True Cost”. From there, people were mobilized in reaction to the collapse of Rana Plaza, sparking a need to change worker conditions as well as the various ecological, social and economical impacts of mass production. Her lessons for us was to make small, consumer-driven solutions, encourage a network of parallel programs and to not worry about hard activism since she finds small/slow/long processes sometimes work better.
Finally, Marie discussed the “Future of Waste”- a mobilization that began 3 years ago which promotes waste management and a circular economy. This mobilization is partnered with SUEZ waste collection which supports MakeSense for innovation opportunities. They connect volunteers, produce open source contents, and work with various backgrounds of volunteers such as experts, makers, craftsmen, etc. One of their principles is enlightening: “Move forwards even if we don’t agree on how to do it. Sometimes you just need movement even if its not a concerted effort”.
That afternoon we hosted our very first Master of Design for Social Impact bookclub! (Who loves books? We love books!) Smarti led the group through some one-on-one bonding exercises and then as a group we created a pro/con list between Lisbon vs. Amsterdam for our MakeSense training. Afterwards we ripped through two books on social design and discussed examples of service-learning graphic design and categorical mapping of social design. This genre is still quite new yet connects so many diverse industries – it’s hard to pinpoint one type of training so it’s great to bring all the resources to the table.
Wednesday night a part of the group visited the Centre Pompidou to listen to Jon Hendricks from Guerrilla Art Action Group who spoke about his experiences regarding activism. At the end he heaved into the mic stating that we live in a dangerous time, advising artists to do their part and be active in protesting our realities. A couple of us stayed behind to discuss various viewpoints and perspectives.
Thursday was individual training, so we were in and out of our classroom – making prints, preparing for different classes and sharing ideas. Our classroom is becoming a haven for us students. Hanna already led a calendar making process which covers one wall with assignments in each class for the entire semester. Resources and group discussions are being posted on the wall too. Slowly but surely, we are accumulating other things such as tea, books, and art supplies which will help us as the year rolls along.
On Friday, after a class visit to the American Library in Paris, we de-stressed with a group dinner. Plate passing and candles glowing – the conversation flitted from Schwarzenneger to how trees communicate, superpowers, and Lebanese desserts. Um, yum! It was a short, cold stroll to the metro but the night felt full of promises and sweet friendship.
Saturday we had a group training in the 3D lab of Paris College of Art. Joe led us through all the saws, sanders, plaster, ceramics and tools and lots and lots of rules. Very important. Thank goodness for all the CAPers who are quasi-experts and can be available to guide us when the time comes to prototype and we’ll be down there making things and testing our ideas. We all got to cut a piece of wood in various ways for the afternoon workshop component.
We’re still in introduction phase but it feels like we’re starting to come together. We’re moving right along, just like the Muppets. We’ll make sure to turn at the fork in the road…