Sustainable Missoula: The magic of creative reuse
After a particularly hot, smoky summer, many of us are looking forward to the changing of the seasons. The first signs of autumn are already in the air – the return of students to classrooms, the new splash of color on the trees, the ripening of apples, the canning jars moving off the store shelves.
For us Home ReSource-ers, the beginning of fall is marked by other signals: The sound of drills and circular saws, children and aspiring artists painting hollow-core doors, the smell of delicious eats from food trucks, and watching the transformation of old building materials into incredible works of art and function.
To us at Home ReSource, the beginning of fall is marked by our annual event, Spontaneous Construction, this year taking place on Saturday, September 18.
Spontaneous Construction (SponCon) started in 2004 as a way to raise awareness of the newly founded building materials reuse store and to creatively build a culture of reuse. The event originally featured many fun, funky, and unique activities (ask us someday about toilet bowling, paint throwing, or the staff dunk tank). Since then, it has become an annual Missoula tradition where teams compete to build their greatest creations out of Home ReSource materials.
The event typically features live music, family-friendly activities, food trucks, and upwards of 500 spectators watching the action throughout the day. During the 7-hour competition, builders, artists, DIYers, reusers, and creative spirits come together to show off their skills, have a few laughs, and inspire a culture of reuse throughout the Missoula community.
SponCon (paired with our annual Auction) is certainly an opportunity to open our doors and have fun with the community while raising money for our programs with the objects made. But it is also so much more. We refer to SponCon as a “festival of creative reinvention” – an event designed to showcase and celebrate the true value of materials.
At the beginning of the event, teams start out with a collection of random, unremarkable, used items: light fixtures, cabinets, window frames, faded lumber, etc. By the end of the day, after infusing these materials with hard work, imagination, and the magic of the reuse spirit, teams have transformed them into beautiful and useful creations – bed frames, benches, dog houses, lamps, and so much more! It is truly a sight to see; an inspiring display of how materials originally destined for the landfill can be brought back to life.
Home ReSource’s vision imagines a world where “the potential of people, community, and materials is realized.” Creative reuse is an important piece of this larger vision. It is visual proof that all materials – even worn, used ones – are valuable and that all people – be they pros or just everyday adventurers – can participate in building a healthy, sustainable, just and vibrant world.
SponCon and other displays of creative reuse challenge the cultural narrative that disposability, convenience, overabundance, and endless consumption are virtues. Events and efforts like SponCon are small yet revolutionary acts which strive to bring a new world to fruition. A world where the resources we harvest are valued and used to their fullest potential. Where items are designed to be reused, repaired, and repurposed as many times as possible. Where materials are made with recyclability in mind, and are endlessly recycled into products of equal or greater value. A world designed for zero waste.
Home ReSource, and SponCon in particular, embody the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” We love to intercept landfill-bound materials and turn them into treasures, and to empower others to do the same, building a better future for all in the process.
This year’s SponCon festivities will include COVID-safety precautions, but you are still invited to come on down to Home ReSource on Saturday, September 18 to check out the action, buy a beer, paint a door, and be inspired by the magic that is creative reuse.
Sarah Lundquist is the Zero Waste Education Manager at Home ReSource. This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every week by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.
Here we offer ideas about sustainable ways to stay involved in our community. If you like these offerings, consider signing up for Climate Smart’s eNewsletter here. And sign up for the Home ReSource eNews via their homepage here.
Missoula’s Farmers Markets. Eat local now through the early fall! The original Farmers Market at the north end of Higgins runs every Saturday 8am-12:30 – information here. The Clark Fork Market is now located at 101 Carousel Drive near Dragon Hallow, runs every Saturday 8am -1pm – information is here.
Missoula Urban Demonstration Project Garden Party – Sept 10th, 6-10pm. Join MUD for their 30th annual Garden Party. They’ll have music from The Recession Special, food from the Mexican Moose, dessert from Bernice’s Bakery and Kakigori Bar, and a variety of beverage from local businesses! Purchase tickets in advance here or day-of at the tool library.
Don’t Fall for Gas educational series – Sept 16, 6:30-8pm via Zoom. Hosted by Montana Environmental Information Center. Learn more about the climate and health dangers of gas extraction, transportation, and burning, and hear from other Montana organizations about what they are doing to address the climate crisis and to decrease Montana’s use of gas. Registration required. More about the event series, including panelists, here.
Spontaneous Construction – Sept 18th. Missoula’s festival of creative reinvention! Reuse. Compete. Create. Enjoy! More info and team registration here.
Beekeeping Workshop – Sept 19th, 12-2pm. Whether you’re new to beekeeping or a long-time enthusiast, join MUD to learn more about how to keep your hive healthy and happy all year round. Register here.
Missoula’s third annual Clean Energy Expo – Sept 25, 10am-2pm. Climate Smart Missoula, together with partners — the Montana Renewable Energy Association, City of Missoula, Missoula County, and Clearwater Credit Union — are back to hosting this premier event at Caras Park. More information is HERE, let us know if you’d like to sponsor or host a table, and do Save the Date.
Bike to Barns tour – Now through Sept 30. Explore local farms and flavors on a 15-mile bike tour through Missoula’s Orchard Homes and Target Range neighborhoods. More info and sign up here.
Fixit Clinic – Oct 2, 11am-3pm at the Missoula Public Library Maker Space. Save the date for upcoming Fixit Clinics, hosted by Home ReSource! Bring your broken items and work with skilled repair coaches to learn how to fix them. More information and sign ups here.
Zero Waste Missoula Meeting – Oct 27, 4-5pm in the Home ReSource Community Room. Gather with passionate community members working to lead the community toward zero waste. Learn more about Zero Waste Missoula here, and RSVP to the October meeting here.
Materials donations to Home Resource keep the wheels of reuse spinning in our community; and remember that everything you need to know about what to do with your unwanted stuff is at www.zerobyfiftymissoula.com.
Find more local activities and events at Missoulaevents.net and on Montana Environmental Information Center’s Conservation Calendar. And you too can help organize events – here’s the 2021 Calendar of Environmental Awareness Days – month by month break down of world day campaigns.