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Used appliances get new life for 2nd annual Art Revival

May 14th, 2010 | Category: Crafts, Events

by John D’Onofrio

From an early age, Duane Jager knew that his life’s work was going to be focused on helping to make the world a better place. He attended school at a Benedictine Monastery in North Dakota, preparing for life as a Catholic priest. Although he would ultimately choose a different path, the Benedictine’s vow of poverty and simplicity had an impact on him that would be a guiding light in his life.
By the 1980’s he had moved to Ohio and had founded the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, served on the boards of two homeless shelters and launched a soup kitchen in Columbus. “It was then I recognized that I was starting to build a career,” he said, “using throw away materials to help “throw away” people.”
By 2002, Jager had moved to Bellingham and two years later, ReUse Works was born. The fledgling non-profit dedicated itself to filling a need that was not being met – salvaging, repairing and reselling used appliances while working with schools and social service agencies to provide on-the-job training for low income residents in need of work experience. It was a win/win/win situation – waste reduction (reuse) helps the environment by saving energy, job-training opportunities provide benefits for the local community and customers can purchase quality used appliances at significant savings.
Jager connected the dots.  “We have millions of tons of waste in this throw-away society,” he observed. “I am passionate about how the poor can benefit from the excesses of our society.”
“I always emphasize that reuse is better than recycling,” he said. His mantra: “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” In that order.
From humble beginnings, Appliance Depot (as the outlet store was renamed to avoid confusion with ReSources and the ReStore) has enjoyed spectacular success. Today the organization boasts a staff of six in addition to the 40 worker trainees who rotate through the operation each year. By 2010, Appliance Depot was receiving donations of 400 appliances a month at its location at 802 Marine Drive in Bellingham and successfully refurbishing and re-selling 100 of them.
But Jager wasn’t satisfied.  Impressed with the community building successes of local organizations like Sustainable Connections (where Duane was a founding board member), he gave the green light to the idea that would become the 1st Annual Appliance Art Revival, a unique and most assuredly fun-filled way to engage the community in his organization’s positive vision of a more sustainable way forward.
“Everyone hates waste,” he said.  “And everyone loves art, especially when the medium is something they are familiar with.  That’s why the AAR attracted over 300 attendees last year.”
The 2nd Annual Appliance Art Revival will be held on Friday, June 4 at the Chuckanut Brewery, 601 West Holly St. in downtown Bellingham. The festivities start at 6 p.m. and include the one-of-a-kind art auction, kid’s activities and live music by local bands Hoss and The Whiskey Wailers.
“This year we are having appliance races down Holly Street,” Jager said. “It’s all fun and hopefully we’re getting people to think reuse first.”
For more information, contact Appliance Depot at 360.527.2646 or at www.reuseworks.org

John D’Onofrio is a Whatcom County-based writer/photographer/consultant.  His articles appear regularly in the Foothills Gazette, Adventures NW, Cascadia Weekly, NW Business Monthly and Washington Trails.  He serves on the boards of both ReUse Works and Sustainable Connections. Visit his web site at www.jdonofrio.com

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