Scraplanta Creative Reuse makes creating art more affordable, accessible and sustainable
Standing at the intersection of art and sustainability, Scraplanta Creative Reuse is a nonprofit organization on a mission to make the world more accessible, beautiful, and sustainable through donated art supplies, community-led workshops and classes. Scraplanta provides sustainable, low-cost art supplies to Atlanta artists, teachers and students.
Jonelle Dawkins is a Georgia native and executive director of Scraplanta, and she joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk more about the organization’s ongoing projects and opportunities.
How Dawkins brought her love of creating with found materials to lead Scraplanta:
“I started as a kid that just liked to craft,” said Dawkins. “I wanted to be a fashion designer, and I liked to sew. Like, I used to go to Joanne’s [Fabrics], of course, but there were times where I went to different people in my community who liked to sew, and they were older, and as they got rid of their craft supplies, they gave them to me. So I ended up with vintage sewing patterns from the ’60s and ’70s and all of these cool fabrics and things, and it was just a fun experience for me.”
“I ended up at the University of Georgia, where I studied fashion merchandising, because I wanted to make the fashion industry more sustainable in my journey. I ended up going to graduate school, where I volunteered at a creative reuse center in Greensboro called ‘Reconsidered Goods,’ and while I was there, I thought to myself, ‘Shouldn’t Atlanta have one of these?’ And then I found out about Scraplanta. I connected with our founder, Susan Reu, and she was looking for an executive director to lead the charge with opening Scraplanta’s stores and getting us our first permanent physical location, and that’s how I joined the Scraplanta team in November 2021, and it’s been a wonderful journey ever since.”
Insights gained from time in a UGA ethical fashion program in Accra, Ghana:
“It was very inspiring to see how people navigate entrepreneurship in Ghana. Because they have a very high rate of entrepreneurship because job opportunities are so limited, so people have to make their own, from their own resources,” said Dawkins. “I saw people making pencil pouches from plastic bottles, using old tires to make bags, and quilting dresses and things from scraps. It was just so inspiring, and it really reminded me that there are solutions out there for our climate crisis, and we really have to just sit and think and also be able to listen to other people.”
She added, “In Ghana, they’re really about community and the concept of ‘Sankofa,’ which means ‘to go back and take,’ and it’s learning from your past to build your future. Just the community feeling that I got there, because I’m an African-American, and connecting, reconnecting with my roots made me feel so powerful, and to come back to America with this mindset that I don’t have to sit and solve this climate crisis myself. I can sit and work with other people and find solutions and find creative solutions. It doesn’t all have to be boring and scientific. It can be fun and beautiful and bright.”
A resource for anyone who wants to experiment with art materials:
“Right now our main demographic consists of teachers, mainly in DeKalb County and lower grades. But as Scraplanta grows, we do want to let people know that we are not just a resource for early elementary schoolers. Art can be incorporated in all grade levels, even on the collegiate levels, and just that life-learning level, and we are starting to reach more people who do art classes with senior citizens and different groups that might not be traditionally represented in the art world. And we also do just serve artists. If you wanna create in any type of way, you are welcomed and embraced in Scraplanta’s doors, so you can get started on your hobby for very low prices.”
More information on how to shop, donate, or volunteer at Scraplanta Creative Reuse can be found at www.scraplanta.org.