SponCon 2019: Home ReSource competitors reinvent the wheel as business thrives

Young volunteers tie-dyed team T-shirts at Home ReSource on Wednesday in preparation for the 15th annual SponCon on Saturday. Front, left to right are: Amilia Gingerelli, Sylvan Catron-Drake. Back, left to right: Dominic Gingerelli, Libby Catron-Gingerelli. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current)

Rebuild it and they will come.

In a one-of-a-kind, annual frenzy of reuse and repurposing, Home ReSource will hold its 15th annual “festival of creative reinvention” on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its Missoula headquarters.

It’s a competition broken into general and professional divisions to see who among 26 registered teams can convert on-hand building materials into the most fun and functional items within a seven-hour limit.

Competitors may use any of the materials available at the nonprofit Home ReSource, 1515 Wyoming St. Cheering fans are expected and welcome, in keeping with tradition. 

“Teams compete side-by-side in the Home ReSource parking lot amidst hundreds of onlookers in an atmosphere made festive by live music, local food and free, creative, family-friendly activities,” said Jeremy Drake, community engagement manager for the company, a 501 C3 corporation founded in 2003 by two University of Montana students, Matt Hisel and Lauren Varney.

“During this annual daylong flurry of creative reinvention, Missoulians from all walks of life come together to demonstrate and celebrate Missoula’s thriving culture of reuse,” added Drake.

In previous years, about 500 contestants, spectators, volunteers and event sponsors participated. 

 “Spontaneous Construction celebrates so many of the ways that this community works together to make a better tomorrow,” said Katie Deuel, Home ReSource executive director. “Building beautiful objects from what might have been trash, reducing waste and pollution through reuse, and bringing people together to have fun in the process.”

Initially, founders Hisel and Varney conceived of a retail operation that reduced construction and demolition waste while contributing to a local, green economy.

Today, Home ReSource:

  • Keeps 900 tons of material out of the landfill each year
  • Provides materials and services to over half of Missoula households
  • Maintains strong community partnerships and efficient operations
  • Nurtures a growing suite of Community Sustainability Programs. 

Home ReSource reduces waste and builds a more vibrant and sustainable local economy via its building materials reuse center. It channels materials to those in need, provides meaningful job opportunities and educates others for a sustainable future, by its own description.

As judges Kim Reineking, Jenn Leutzinger and John Rimel train their eyes on the builders, competitors fashion good-looking and usable items. 

“Every year we are blown away by the beauty, creativity and functionality of the finished pieces,” said Deuel. “But it is the energy and innovation of the process itself that is so contagious. The items and the contestants remind us what amazing things we can do when we value materials and each other and just have a hoot working together to make a difference.”

Reineking is a local builder and Leutzinger is a local artist and gallery owner. Rimel owns Mountaina Press Publishing Co. The judges decide which finished SponCon gold winners will advance to Home ReSource’s annual “Celebrating Reuse, Building Community” banquet and benefit auction at The Wilma on Nov. 8. 

Most of the event proceeds go to various Community Sustainability Programs, said Drake. 

The benefit auction is the primary fundraiser for the organization’s Zero Waste Ambassadors Program (ZWAP!), Zero Waste community support, reuse workshops, youth internships, apprenticeships and job skills training.

Winners of each general and pro division receive gift cards and grab bags for local food and entertainment. Pro teams get twice the space of a general team and access to electricity for power tools. General teams must use hand-operated or battery-powered tools. A battery-charging station is on site. 

Silver winners partake in the benefit’s silent auction on Nov. 8. Several completed items will be displayed in the lobby of the Mercantile Hotel, from Oct. 4 until Nov. 8. Often, bronze winners are sold at the retail store. 

Teams can field up to five members at an extra $10 per head after two. Cost for a two-person general team is $25 and $50 for a pro squad. 

However, building contest slots are full, as organizers cap registrants at 25, said Drake. But organizers are still taking entrants on a waiting list at www.homeresource.org/sponcon/

The event is free and open to the public. See the website for a detailed schedule, musical lineup, list of family-friendly activities and on-site food vendors.