Materials Center: Donate NYC Spotlight

By Manny Cantor Center | In Archive, Arts & Culture, In The News | on June 1, 2017

The Manny Cantor Center and Teaching Beyond The Square Materials Center was recently featured in donateNYC’s “Donation Spotlight.”

In March, donateNYC was contacted by another government agency looking to dispose of almost 1000 outdated uniform shirts responsibly and without producing waste. The catch? Because the shirts were decommissioned uniforms, they could not be worn by recipients—but who would accept over half a ton of unwearable shirts?

Ever grateful for the creative network of donateNYC Partners, our staff knew just who to contact: enter Teaching Beyond the Square and their thriving Materials Center. The Materials Center, a community resource hub established in partnership with Manny Cantor Center, features a huge collection of “found” items, gathered and donated by New Yorkers. Programming at the Materials Center transforms objects from our everyday lives and shows that nothing is waste until it is wasted. Workshops centered on rethinking ordinary materials encourage creative expression and problem solving while teaching the importance of repurposing over rejecting objects—such as the decommissioned uniforms—that are no longer useful in their original roles.

When donateNYC reached out to Robin Koo of the Materials Center about the shirts, she saw an opportunity and put the hundreds of pounds of fabric to use right away. On Earth Day, the Materials Center hosted a workshop teaching participants how to convert the shirts into cotton yarn that can be used for a variety of activities such as knitting, crocheting, and weaving. The group snipped and sewed for two hours, creating a large supply of yarn; each participant went home with one ball of yarn for every five t-shirts converted so they could spread the upcycling spirit to their own homes.

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