Sustainable Missoula: Continuing a tradition of creative reuse

Dawn McGee in the SponCon.

I love creativity, community and making art from existing things. That’s why I have given many hours of my time, energy, excitement to participate, with a fabulous team of people, in Home ReSource’s annual event Spontaneous Construction.

SponCon, as it is affectionately known, is an event where people dream big and put their skills to work to create something new from things that have already been used and discarded, demonstrating the inherent value and benefit of those items, in an atmosphere of friendly competition as teams vie for winning entry into Home ReSource’s annual fundraising Auction in October. Essentially, it’s a seven-hour mad scramble to make the best creation possible out of used but valuable materials.

There are also local live bands, food and heaps of activities for folks of all ages: pre-COVID! This year, they’ll be playing recorded local music, giving out take-home building activities, limiting numbers of spectators, livestreaming the festivities, and food trucks are serving folks 6 ft apart.

I am amazed at the love, inventiveness and craftsmanship that people invest in their creations: from tables, chairs, whirly-gigs and lamps, to art and musical instruments – inventiveness, craftsmanship, and care for our community’s future shines through. It’s all done for fun in the service of promoting the benefits of reuse, and helping Home ReSource raise money for their community-leading sustainability programs: good times for a good cause! t

In case you don’t know, Home ReSource is Missoula’s place for salvaging materials for reuse, offering everything from historic hardware to reclaimed lumber, doors, kitchen cabinets, sinks, windows, light fixtures, tile and more at affordable prices.

The big idea: keep all of these things out of the landfill, help people acquire the things they need at low cost, and create a culture and community of reuse and repair. But they don’t just sell old things. The folks at Home ReSource also wrote ZERO by FIFTY, Missoula’s plan that outlines specific measures and pathways to move Missoula toward 90% waste reduction by 2050.

Home ReSource also has job training programs for youth and adults, the educational Zero Waste Ambassadors Program (ZWAP!) for 5th graders, community reuse workshops, and Zero Waste programming for civic groups, businesses, and individuals in our community, including Missoula’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

I first became aware of Home ReSource through my work at the High Stakes Foundation. High Stakes Foundation started making grants to the organization when it was the brainchild of Lauren Varney & Matt Hisel and located in a small shop on Kent Street. With a group of other donors, we purchased the land where Home ReSource is located, enabling their move, expansion and eventual purchase of the property, creating a permanent home for the community center that serves over half of Missoula households every year with affordable materials and sustainability programs.

High Stakes Foundation has continued to support Home ReSource’s programming and community in recent years by matching all the donations given to the organization in the “Fund the Need” piece at the SponCon Auction. High Stake Foundation has committed to do a match again in support of their vital work in the community.

I love big ideas and working together to create a better world and a better tomorrow. SponCon Brings them all together in a retro modern celebration to support all our futures. Stop over and check it out, or get more information and watch it all from home at www.homeresource.org.

Dawn McGee is the CEO of Goodworks Ventures, President of the High Stakes Foundation, and long-time SponCon participant with fellow team members Eric Moon, Ernest Forward, Ann Quirk and Justin Rettenmeyer. This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every week by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Sustainability Happenings

As COVID-19 has altered many community events, some have moved on-line or found creative outlets. 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 Home ReSource’s eNews via their homepage here.

August 15-September 30. Bike to Barns farm tour. Join CFAC exploring local farms and flavors on a self-guided 15-mile bike tour through Missoula’s Orchard Homes and Target Range neighborhoods. Register here by September 15.

September 13-26. Missoula in Motion’s Commuter Challenge. Create or join your workplace team and log your sustainable trips to win prizes. Yes, working from home counts!

September 14-17. National Tribal and Indigenous Climate Conference. Hosted by The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, this virtual conference will convene experts on climate change and will include a balance of Traditional Indigenous Knowledges and Western Science.

September 21-26. MUD Garden Party. Missoula Urban Demonstration Project is hosting a week of virtual events to demonstrate, inspire, and engage with sustainability projects at home.

Find more activities and events at Missoulaevents.net and on Montana Environmental

Information Center’s Conservation Calendar.