Monday, August 29, 2011

The Footprints EcoFestival

The last Sunday of winter was a beautiful day: spring is definitely coming back to Sydney! It was a perfect day for The Bower to promote the Eco-Library: that is why Claire, Claire and Clare (no, we’re not kidding, we’re all called Claire!) took part in the second edition of the Footprints Ecofestival in Annandale.

We wanted to emphasize three particular activities of the Eco-Library: the zines, the library loans service and the Seed Savers group.

We brought some zines and a type-writer so that Claire could show how she works. We had chosen a dozen books about bush plants, sustainable design, reuse crafts and recycling to show a sample of the variety of information you can find in the Eco-Library and we also had some seeds to sell from the Seed Savers: yellow tomatoes, parsley, peas, lettuce, celery, etc…

The sun and the warm weather brought many people. We had very positive feedback from people who wanted to know more about The Bower, whether they had already heard about us or not. The Seed Savers was quite intriguing to many people and quite a lot of seeds were sold. Hopefully they will grow up happily in new welcoming homes!

Finally, it was great to chat with our neighbours: the Wilderness Society, our friends of Alfalfa House who had cooked delicious organic cakes, Sydney Bike Polo who organised free rides on electrical bikes, the No Gas Mining group who had petitions to sign, or WEFTS who gave 100% biodegradable balloons to kids, just to quote some of them. Let’s not forget the giant tree men, too, who wanted to cut every human with loppers and chainsaws!!!

It was a very good day for the three of us: we really enjoyed being a part of this festival and chatting with all these people explaining what we are doing in our Eco-Library!

- Claire M

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Week 1 in 107

This week was our first week working in OUR NEW WORKSHOP SPACE! Ok, so it's TAFE Outreach's space, loaned from the good folk at City of Sydney Council, but we get to play in it!
Furniture Reuse classes began on Wednesday with a burst of enthusiasm we could only have imagined!!
Check out below for Teddy's take on his first class in Reuse Repair Recycle Furniture
What a joy it was to ride my bike to 107 Redfern St this morning!  A gorgeous almost-Spring morning, perfect for getting my hands dirty!

The motley gang of eco warriors, furniture restorers and handy types gather around, anxious to start, feet tapping, hands twitching...we want to make stuff!  

We've found ourselves huddled in a huge warehouse space in Redfern, Banksy stencils littered carelessly across the walls, hints of glitter and charisma are all that remain from the presence of Mardi Gras and our teachers are ready to roll!  Today is upholstery!  Chairs and chairs and more chairs are pulled out, foam, flock, dacron and calico swing in bags around the warehouse, staple guns, tack removers and hammers are held at the ready as Maaike explains and demonstrates how we are going to make mess into magic.  

My accomplice Fiona and I tackle a gorgeous timber arm chair. All that is left of it's former glory is a well sanded frame and a few rusted springs, a gem of a project! 

We begin by weaving the base and back with hessian strips.  It's tricky but once we got used to the stretching tool and handling the tacks we were on fire.

Next we stuffed coconut fibre and the soft downy flock on the back and covered it with half a hessian sack.  The back really started to take shape at this point. 
 It felt great to see a tangible outcome so quickly!  Why is it that we are so scared of making things?  Of fixing things?  All it takes is a little information, the right kind of basic tools and a bit of motivation and virtually anything can be phoenix-ed out of the ashes!   /end rant

The dacron came into play next, we shaped a piece and stapled it in place.  The group gathered around us as we worked, gasps of awe escaping alongside the fire of the staple gun.  

 Every single person around that workbench was smiling and we left excited about what we would create next week!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marrickville Men's Shed Week 4

Another week of planning and scheming - The guys are in the shed and in the yard building, whipping The Bower workshop into shape. There's plenty of room if you want to come along and see what's happening. 

The Men meet each Thursday from 10am to 1pm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bowerography 2.oh!

Special shout out to Thuy, our Bowerography mastermind, for all her enthusiasm and hard work on the latest series of events starting this Saturday at the Bower. If you're a Saturday regular be sure to give her a pat on the back!!

Events will be on Saturdays 2pm- 4pm Upstairs in the Eco-library

August 20th- Bike Club!
Fiona Cambell, City of Sydney's Cycling Stategist, will be discussing Bike Culture from all over the world!
She will show how the humble bicycle is a great means of transport, a fun past time, an easy way to keep fit and environmentall friendly. What communities from other cities are currently doing in recognition of all these pluses will also be discussed.
She will discuss Sydney's own bicylcle's paths and plans and will direct the novice to the enthusiast to some great sites and resources.

In November 2010 the residents of St Peters, Sydney, were alerted to the fact that the NSW government had granted an exploration licence to drill for Coal Seam Gas (CSG) close to homes and schools in St Peters.
Come watch a free edited screening of the arard winning GASLAND (2009) to witness the long term health implications to people, animals and the environment.
Jacinta Green from the St. Peters action group will explain how this exploration process is going to impact the residents of Sydney.

September 3rd- Food Matters
Adam Taylor, Coordinator of Alfalfa House Community Food CO-OP in Enmore will be discussing a range of issues including
factory farming vs. local and organic growers, GMO crops, product packaging and the plastic islands floating in the oceans.
Adam has been active in food justice around the world, and is really excited to discuss the idea that we do have options.
Adam will be taking a solutions based approach to these issues so bring a notebook and pen! 

September 10th- Bookbinding
Sign up for some seriously creative reuse with Joanna. We'll be binding scrap books, notebooks, albums and more from reuse stationary and other salvaged materials in The Bower. 

September 17th- Candlemaking
Our lovely co-op brothers and sisters from Alfalfa House in Enmore has kindly donated some beautiful home grown bees wax for this
candle making workshop! In this session we will show you how to use unused bric-a-brac, glass jars and bottles and everyday packaging to create beautiful centrepeices, gifts and mood lighting options. Come along to this wonderful demonstration and take home some beautiful

September 24th- Uphoslstery
Suppliers, materials, techniques - anything stopping you from doing your own reuse upholstery? Stop by for an upholstery demonstration in the Eco-library and ask any questions you might have. sadly space is limited so this isn't a byo project workshop - we're hoping to fit another one of those in later in the year.

Don't forget to RSVP  to score priority seating/participation etc! Call up, call in, sign up on facebook.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

EcoSnapshot Day

A day out of The Bower teaching kids about reducing, reusing and recycling

On August 10th Maaike and Claire were invited to join the SCRAP team once more in teaching kids and schools to be more sustainable.
Scrap ltd is a non-for-profit company dedicated to teaching resource conservation and management to schools through a fun activity based audit run by students. There are 5 teams involved in creating an Eco-Snapshot - Water, Energy, Resource recovery (Waste), Biodiversity and Material Use and Management (MUM).

 The Bower has run the MUM audit in schools with the Scrap team for many years as part of our commitment to education about reuse and sustainable practices.

Kids in all groups conduct investigations, surveys and audits on their school, relative to their topic. The information they find on the day helps the SCRAP team build a picture for the school staff on their performance in terms of environmental sustainability. SCRAP collates this information, along with details given by staff and provides a number of recommendations to help the school improve future performance.

 Last week we visited St-Ignatius (Regis campus), in Lane Cove. The year 6 kids split into groups to spend the day focusing on their particular environmental issue such as biodiversity, solid waste or energy.

Maaike and Claire worked with 20 pupils to discuss the importance of the 4 R's – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We talked about the lifecycle of something as simple as paper, and why we should consider it a precious resource rather than a disposable item. We also talked about other materials and their reuse potential, and admired the class's softdrink bottle terrariums as a great example of this idea in practice.

We also talked about lunch box reuse.
The boys examined their lunch boxes and thought about reducing the waste they bring into the school each day. Resuable packaging such as lunchboxes, and smaller tupperware for sandwiches or small portions of yoghurt, muesli, biccies etc eliminates gladwrap and foil waste, as well as plastic single serve packaging for chips and biscuits. Most kids had a resuable drink bottle to avoid single serve drinks like poppers.

After a talk about their own consumption, they were divided into 4 groups, each of them having a particular audit to conduct. The groups surveyed canteens, staffrooms, paper stores and other class's lunch boxes to provide a snapshot of reuse culture in the school. Later they collated their information and decide what the message is that they want to pass on to their peers at the final assembly. Snapshot kids share their information at the end of the day through video, play, rap, interpretive dance and/or poster.

The St-Ignatius kids seem particularly well-aware of the recycling issues, and were very enthusiastic about the day. They did their best to find all the information required. At the end of the day, our four groups expressed their creativity making posters on industrial discard paper from Reverse Garbage.

St-Ignatius Regis were found to be excellent at recycling paper and the kids had lots of great ideas to increase paper use. The Resource Recovery team discovered 90% of their day's 'rubbish' was in fact a recoverable resource. Energy, Water and Biodiversity groups all also reported encouraging information and many new ideas for improvement.

Ultimately a very positive day, both for the kids and for Maaike and Claire who really enjoyed the energy, involvement and creativity that the children demonstrated!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Bower on Top Design - Upcycle Challenge

This Wednesday at 8pm we'll be featuring in Jamie Durie’s latest reality show, ‘Top Design’.

The Channel 9 program’s participants are a diverse group of Australians with a passion for renovation and design. Contestants had a budget to spend at The Bower, selecting items to upcycle in to something else; such as old fridges, bike parts and filing cabinets. 

We're chuffed about the prime time exposure the program will bring to The Bower’s ethic of reuse and repair. Reuse and repair is an effective solution to the mainstream issue of waste and limited landfill.

Hopefully the episode will illustrate that just because items may no longer be functional as originally intended, they can still be extremely useful.
One of our core aims has been to advocate for long life design, through the creation of repairable products or inclusion of upcycle possibilities.

We strive to keep reusable items out of landfill and to involve the community in the achievement of these objectives. We hope the show will reach a whole new section of Sydney who will be able to start considering the possibilities of their own unwanted goods before throwing them away in the future.

The Bower episode of Top Design is aired on Channel 9 on August 17 from 8.00 pm.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bowerbirds Zine Making Week 1

Week 1 of Bowerbirds Zinemaking went beautifully. 

Part of probably the most exciting afterhours event Jurassic Lounge- held at the Australian Museum- the zine zone was a quiet refuge as well as a creatively buzzing little nook set with the backdrop of a cave.

Participants could choose a piece of handcrafted recycled paper (made by Eco-Library volunteer Clare) and then peruse the cut-out images and words spread around the room. There was lots of lovely feedback about the paper stock as people really appreciated the value of each and every piece. With a loose theme of DISCOVERY, a total of 45 pages were made using collage, drawing and text and pinned up within the cave. The selection from our zine library introduced newcomers to the zine world on what a zine actually is and inspired people to get crafty. The pages will be collated each week to go towards our big Jurassic Lounge zine.

The Bower Re-use & Repair Centre and Eco-Library will be hosting the zinemaking using recycled and re-used materials again this coming Tuesday 9th August with the theme DREAMS.

Jurassic Lounge will also come alive with burlesque, bands, swing dancing, karaoke, live projections and video installation, films and exhibitions.
Entry is $15 plus a free drink.
Tuesday 9th August from 5.30-9.30pm.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jurassic Lounge

The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre Eco Library 
Zines made out of zines and other things.

5:30pm TO 9:30pm

2 August - 20 September



                                                                                                                                (Pic borrowed from The Paper Collective)

Every Tuesday night this Winter, the Australian Museum opens its doors to present Jurassic Lounge - after-hour sessions featuring art, live music, drinks + new ideas.

As part of this awesome series, our Eco-library volunteer Clare will be running a zine workshop with reuse stationary and other bits from The Bower;

Scribble it down stream of consciousness style, record it digital wise then.... rip it up into little pieces and beat it to a pulp!

Relax between acts and contribute to the communal zine- a piece of art created at each event which has little bits and pieces from and of jurassic lounge folk.

All materials are from re-use, paper is handmade each week out of the pages you contribute with special surprises along the way.

Our first event will be all about discoveries, re-discoveries and treasure! Maybe you will find something glinting between the fossils at Jurassic Lounge- come etch it for us in the zine zone (Indigenous room) and whilst you are there bring your friends to play some retro games and choose your tune on the Jukebox...