Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recyclique -the Art of Sustainability

Recyclique is a co-op of people who do "upcycling" -- We design and build useful affordable products from found objects, trash and recycled materials. Our goal is eye-catching, cool products, that are distinctive (not kitsch!). We use sales of upcycled products to support CommunEcos workshops on environmental and alternative economics education; production of co-op products also creates small income flows for underemployed people. [Our organization was formerly known as YIKES!]. 

Visit us at our new website:

For info, email: or  

Check out Recyclique, our shop [featuring upcycled goods, vintage and sustainability products]
(see below for photo of house and location, etc.)

In early June 2011 -- Recyclique opened a combination retail & enviro-education center at 2811 Hillsborough Rd (next to the Food Lion).  Our hours are 3-6 pm Thur & Fridays, and 10-5 pm Saturdays.  We have educational workshops on most Sat. afternoons (usually 2-4 pm) and on Third Fridays 6-8 pm.  
Our new site enables us to market upcycled & sustainability products (as well as vintage and thrift finds) and  and to do regular workshops and social events supporting sustainable lifestyles and green job creation through micro-enterprise with a focus on reuse and repurposed goods. We have also filed for formal non-profit status as CommunEcos -- the NGO that will house both the Recyclique co-op and environmental education activities. The new CommunEcos website is For more info or to learn how to get involved or place your upcycled products in the shop, email:                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our Upcycling Co-op’s new  Retail Shop
. . . exploring the arts of creative re-use, sustainable lifestyles, green job creation  & our nutty relationships with stuff
    2811 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC
(green house next to the Food Lion/Monro Muffler)

Past workshops at Recyclique have included: 
Sustainable Paper-making, Bee-Keeping, Pranic Healing, Home Composting, Raised Bed Gardening, Crocheting with PLARN (plastic bag strips),  Viewing of "Garbage Warrior" film, Viewing of "Inside Job" film, Reading by Steve Hren from Tales from the Sustainable Underground, Solar Thermal Power, Viewing of "We All Fall Down," Vermiculture, Seed-saving from Heirloom Tomatoes, Viewing of "Gasland" film, Workshop on Solar Energy Alternatives, Mask-making w/ clay and paper-mache, Aromatherapy w/ Essential Oils, Hand-made Journals.

Costume Party  -- Fri. Oct. 28th          
to celebrate opening of “Night Kitchen”
 Frightful yummies/cider/coffee/tea
Live Music by Dylan Turner

Also, in Dec. 2011 we completed our 5th two-week long Green Career Training  with the Forest Foundation & Durham Economic Resource Center [supported by a Golden Leaf Fdn grant].  Cohorts of DERC students have attended the trainings, held in March, May , August, September & December 2011.  Each 2-week segment included days focused on Green Literacy, Green Entrepreneurship, Recycling, Sustainable Manufacturing, Residential Solar, Green building, Weatherization, Green Landscaping, & Alternative transportation fuels. Instructors include: Marc Dreyfors, John Parker, Sandy Smith-Nonini, Anthony Watts, Steve Hren, Jeff Ensminger, Henry Wills, Bill Triplett, and Bayyinah Salahuddin.

Check out the winning entries from our Re-hashed Trash Bash  upcycling contest on our FACEBOOK pageThe contest was was sponsored by the new UNC YIKES! Team and the Awards Bash was held on the evening of Dec. 2nd, 2010 in Hyde Hall, at UNC.  The prize for "Best in Show" -- for an amazingly strong hammock made from plastic shopping bags -- went to Sam Mize, former NC School of Science and Math student, now at NCSU.  Prize winners in the products category included Sue Beauchamp (1st Prize) for her artistic envelopes and Kindle Cherry (2nd Prize) for a revamped floor lamp.  Winners in the art category were Charron Andrews (1st Prize) for her eclectic shrine (made from everyday objects) and Diane Moritzio (2nd Prize) for her "Cherry Sky" mosaic from broken glass.  The "People's Choice" award went to George Danser for his rotating composter, and the green job "Prototype" award went to the Recyclique co-op for an artistic rain barrel (painted by artist Kim Erny).

All entries had to be made of at least 85% waste or recycled materials. Speakers at the Bash included Muriel Willimon of Orange County Solid Waste, who showed slides on Re-Use and Re-Purposing, Allison Norman of UNC's SWEAT -- a campus environmental organization, Rev. Robert Campbell of the Rogers Rd.- Eubanks Neighborhood which is located near the Chapel Hill municipal landfills, and Cindy Shea, of the UNC Sustainability Office, who spoke about new university initiatives to improve sustainability. Vimala's Curry Blossem cafe provided tasty food made from local ingredients. 

Many thanks to our five judges -- which combined expertise from the new NC Re-Use Alliance, Orange Co. Solid Waste, UNC Sustainability Office, the Scrap Exchange and a UNC student perspective.

Criteria: In both categories judges awarded points for aesthetic value or "coolness," quality of construction, usefulness in environmental education, and environmental footprint. For products: additional criteria include usefulness and marketability. Green job prototype criteria included ease of sourcing materials and prospects of being reproduced in a reasonable time by people who do not have specialized training.  
Also special thanks to all who donated used shoes for Share Our Shoes -- a Raleigh non-profit that helps clean out American closets and sends shoes to countries where too many people go barefoot..   

Due to the enthusiasm that this year's event generated, we may make it an annual event -- but will likely schedule more lead time for crafters and inventors and hold the awards bash in warmer weather if we do it again in 2011. Stay tuned for updates!  

Recyclique is best known for its artistic rain barrels -- we are currently developing additional prototypes in collaboration with local crafters. Examples include mosaics from broken tiles and ceramics, revamped lamps, re-used glass products, and "re-jewelry" from found/recycled materials. We welcome folks interested in creating new prototypes.  

 If you would like to get on our email list to stay on top of activities, email:

Hey check out our new FACEBOOK page: YIKES! on Facebook 
(hope you will "like" it while you're there!) 
And follow us on TWITTER @YIKESnc

Past Educational Workshops: (See workshops page for more info)

We collaborated with the Black, Brown Green Alliance (BBGA) and Good Work in 2010-2011 to hold a series of meetings on  "Slow Money" (alternative lending for sustainaqble enterprises) in Durham.  In 2011 meetings were held on March 23rd, April 19th, and May 18th, and we had three previous meetings with community members in the summer and fall of 2010. Special thanks to UNC interns Derrick Bennett, Dan Kennedy and Lauren Stewart, for their assistance with organizing the fall and spring meetings.
On July 24-25, 2010 we held a 3-D Mosaic workshop!! -- A comprehensive workshop taught by Durham mosaic artist Paula MacLeod on how to upcycle an ugly duckling of an object into a swan using mosaic techniques. 
UNC Students & YIKES! -- In 2010-11 we worked with about 23 UNC students on a variety of environmental education projects in Durham and Chapel Hill, including the ReHashed Trash Bash last fall.  Max Rice did a display on Humanure (composting of human waste) and Elizabeth Lee did a display on plastics recycling at Earth Action Day on April 9th in Chapel Hill and at the NightLight club's Earth Week events in the week the followed. Derrick Bennett assisted in the Slow Money project.  All three were enrolled in Prof. Sandy Smith-Nonini's "Environmental Justice" service learning course at UNC. 
Other 2010 activities:

Fri. July 30: Recyclique painted barrels with youth as "performing artists" at the Hillsborough Last Friday festival, Old Courthouse, downtown Hillsborough.
Many thanks our 12 outstanding heat tolerant volunteers at the Eno Festival on July 3, 4 and 5. The quality of barrels painted surpassed those from any previous festival, and our new canopy performed like a dream !
Donated Materials: In April and May, thanks to a contact from Katie King, in our student group, we acquired 61 new large barrels and 14 small ones from a new supplier in Person Co., with very low costs per barrel, so this allows us to divert funds to labor to aid co-op members.

GOOD NEWS on Sales: We sold our 2nd batch of 5 barrels to the Habitat Re-Store in March, and all but one had sold at last check. In spring and summer we've had many new orders (some for two barrels). And our newest item: painted mailboxes were also popular! (who knew?)

Green job income flows!! We are now devoting some income from sales to pay members in need of extra income to do barrel conversions, painting and transport, paying at a piece rate (Durham's living wage used as guide)

New Opportunities and Supporters: Our application for a Durham Craft market table was accepted, and Carpe Diem, a Durham based house cleaning company, generously sponsored our table -- Many kisses to Wendy Clark!

Many thanks to Kim Erny, the artist mother of Kevin Erny (one of our service learning interns) who donated time to paint a beautiful tropical flower barrel for us, which we plan to auction at a future fundraiser. Also, our new series of artist-led upcycling "how-to" workshops started in July, and we hope to continue "how-to" events in the coming year.

Spring 2010 Events:
SAT. MAY 1,"Water Wise: Saving Money & Surviving the next Drought" -- the last of 8 workshops on energy and climate/green lifestyles topics we presented this spring in the Sustain series, w/ Durham Parks & Recreation. This one featured Hope Taylor, exec. director of Clean Water for N.C. -- at the Holton Career and Resource Ctr. -- see Workshop page for more detail.

On Sun. Apr. 25th
we painted barrels at a Green Festival at Eno River UU Fellowship, as guests of the new Green Earth Ministry there.

Other events this spring included interest meetings and tabling at UNC, and workshops w/ students of YO:Durham, Carolina Friends School, a Cary Scout Troop (led by UNC Students), and a booth at Earth Action Day (Chapel Hill) .

We're most well known for our artistically-painted rain barrels -- which sold well for the 2nd season in a row in 2009. We also build prototypes, including a solar space heater which now heats our space on sunny winter days. We have plans for future workshops on revamped lamps, attractively designed or painted compost, recycling & trash bins, self-watering plant containers and chicken coops. -- See rain barrel pages on this website for more detail on barrels, prices and pics!

Join us! -- We held meetings and round table sessions with Good Work in 2009 to develop a democratic co-op model in which members provide leadership and make decisions together about production and marketing and how to share proceeds. Our members benefit from our shared workshop space, use of common materials and supplies, hands-on instruction by artists, crafters and carpenters, and shared marketing. We host booths at local arts and environmental festivals and will soon have shared retail space in our center at 2811 Hillsborough Rd.  We've also sold rain barrels through the Orange/Durham Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We have a system in place for sharing a portion of proceeds with members in the co-op who put sweat equity into our common product lines. . We need skilled crafts people, carpenters, crafters & visual artists - come join us. For more info: Email:

UNC Campus Organizing

The UNC team sponsored an Upcycling Contest during the month of November --called The Re-hashed Trash Bash.  The awards "bash" was held on campus, the evening of Thurs. Dec. 2, w/  enviro- education speakers, healthy food, and an awards ceremony. (see Recyclique (home) page for details on winners and the event).  The contest had categories for art and useful products, and a $100 top prize It was open to high school students, university and the wider community -- entries had to be made of at least 85% waste or recycled materials. 

In fall 2010 about a dozen UNC service learning students (from two classes) and other volunteers worked w/ Anthropology Professor Sandy Smith-Nonini to develop on-campus projects with the goal of building a student chapter of YIKES! Our first project was to lend support to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill Transitions Town group in planning and hosting a Energy & Community Resilience Fair for the afternoon of Oct 10 --(one of many 10-10-10 events nationally in coordination with the campaign to stop climate change.) 

Other student activities in 2010-11:

Max Rice and Elizabeth Lee built educational displays on Humanure and plastics recycling, respectively, for the April 9, 2011 Earth Action Day in Chapel Hill and for the NightLite Earth Week celebrations.  

Allison Rackley worked with us to improve our social networking, including updating our Facebook page, a new Twitter account, linking both to the website, and upgrading the website. 

Dan Kennedy and Lauren Stewart and Derrick Bennett assisted with organizing "slow money" (alternative finance) educational meetings in Durham, in collaboration with the Black, Brown Green Alliance.

Katie Lubinsky worked on editing the biodiesel film footage. 
Alex Lowrie continued to lend her leadership energy in pulling together a fall 2010 campus agenda.  Max Rice was our "internal communications czar" who kept the planning for the Bash on track.  And special thanks to Alicia Thompson, for her work to secure a $500 donation from an anonymous business sponsor to support the student work!!  Other students involved included McKenzie Biddiz, Hannah Phipps, John Munoz, Laurel Loeblein, Christina Grose, Whitney Deedmeyer, Meghan Robbins and Rachel Beard. 

In spring 2010 we worked with a UNC Communications service learning class taught by Jessica Fifield, whose students helped us by creating new brochures, signs, slides on water conservation, a rolling paint kit, organizing on campus, conducting workships and other projects! We laid groundwork for organization ongoing YIKES activities at UNC this fall.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Volunteer Opportunities

LITERATURE -We have many literature needs -- such as a new brochure, plus other hand-outs for our tabling and workshops - graphic artist skills nice, but not required!

WEBSITE - We are building a new website, and need help improving our social networking with updated FACEBOOK page, twitter, email links, communication between the two sites, etc. But we need more help from folks who have computer skills!

OUTREACH - All our projects depend on outreach, which is especially challenging to engage not only campus and NGO folks, but also the minority community, public school classes, church groups, you name it . . . Simple things like delivering brochures, posting notices, getting calendar listings into the newspaper in a timely manner, and scheduling and presenting to a high school class or club about how we might collaborate. Helpful if you have a car and don't mind talking w/ people!

UPCYCLING PROTOTYPE CONTEST -- See info on the Recyclique page on the Re-Hashed Trash Bash in 2010. We'd like to turn the Bash into a regular event -- Help us make this happen! Habitat Re-Store and Scrap Exchange are potential partners. Would be cool to engage arts and science or enviro classes, and high school groups. [A variation on this could be a RAIN BARREL DESIGN & PAINTING CONTEST

RECYCLIQUE (our upcycling co-op)-- We need outreach to crafters/carpenters/inventor-types to build our ranks. We need designs and tests of new prototypes for upcycled products to make sell. We need help painting rain barrels and staffing our Sat. Durham Craft Market table. And we need help marketing the barrels and Recyclique's new store (eg. someone to regularly update newspaper and online calendar listings and a Craig's List ad).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feed My Sheep Community Garden

UPDATE: In spring 2011, due to the merger of Asbury Temple with another congregation and pending building renovation, the garden has moved to Eastway Elementary School, and will now serve educational goals as well as aiding food security in East Durham.

(the predecessor to CommunEcos) was a proud partner in the founding of the Feed My Sheep community garden at Asbury Temple UMC Church (corner of Angier & Alston Ave.). The first section of the raised bed organic garden was built in June 2009, the garden doubled in size in early July, and in early Dec. our raised bed space doubled again, thanks to a donation from NEEM in coordination with Durham's Community Development office, with funds from Glaxo Smith-Kline.!! The garden was a centerpiece in the church's Wright Room youth program in July and August 2009. YIKES! led morning workshops on sustainable approaches to gardening on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the 4-week program. [see below for fall activities of the garden crew]

The garden came about as a joint project of yikes!, Public Allies & Asbury Temple's Feed My Sheep food ministry. Three UNC service learning students, Linnie Greene, Jayme Strowd & Tavia Benjamin worked with Sandy on bio-intensive methods & container gardening in the spring of 2009 as part of an anthropology course titled "Inventing a Sustainable Agriculture." The students used container gardening to get a variety of seedlings underway; Our partners, the NCCU Public Allies organizers class (see Eric & Tionya above!) did neighborhood outreach and obtained a small grant to fund the project. The students gave a workshop with community members on biointensive methods in April. Rachel Hardy, who directs the "Feed My Sheep" food ministry at Asbury Temple, at corner of Alston and Angier in Durham, NC, secured permission for the garden on church grounds in May. Eric and Sandy did a presentation about the garden at a Feed My Sheep food distribution day. Many thanks to LeDarrell Murray, who brought his tiller to break ground on our first garden workday, and to David Arthur of Isaiah House/Jubilee Restoration Project who consulted with us on the entire project and built the frame for the raised bed.
During the July 2009 Wright Room youth program at Asbury Temple YIKES! volunteers Sandy & Nyota offered classes on community gardening and biointensive methods to young people (covering a range of ages from 1st through 12th grade) enrolled in the program two days a week. The young people filled the bed and planted the new portion of the garden and took care of it. We planted tomatoes, onions, cabbage, brocolli, green beans, swiss chard, squash, zuchinni and cucumbers. We ended the program with a tasting and sharing of recipes for healthy dishes made from fresh produce. Most vegetables we planted were very productive.

We held a fall garden workday to clear old annuals and plant winter vegetables. Later in Nov. Eric installed landscape fabric to protect plants from freezing weather. On Dec. 8th the staff from NEEM (Natural Ecological and Environmental Management) built and filled two additional raised beds, effectively doubling our space in preparation for the spring season. The new beds have a rich organic soil mix, with compost enriched from products of the Indian Neem tree, which stimulate root growth and contain natural pesticides. Our first spring planting of cool season veggies took place in March 2010, and we have set up a weekly watering schedule. Periodic workdays have taken place since, and once again the garden was a centerpiece of the Wright Room program. To join the garden co-op, email Rachel: rahardy0052 @ or Sandy: scsmith @

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Green Living Issue of Indy Weekly

Check out the Indy's new Green Living Issue, which just came out in celebration of Earth Day 2009. I was the special project editor, & I thought it turned out nicely (but then, I would . . .)
Indy Weekly: Green Living Issue

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NC Powerdown events

From July 2008 through March 2009 we hosted regular events at the EcoLounge on energy/climate topics as part of NC Powerdown, a Triangle-wide meet-up site for all ages. You can join the site to receive notices of future events at: Just go to home page and sign up. Events to date included:

· a forum on sustainable biodiesel w/ tour of production facility (July 2008)

· viewing of the film "Blood & Oil" followed by a panel discussion (August 2008)

· a slide-show by early adopters of solar hot water (October 2008)

· two workshops on do-it-yourself solar space heaters (Dec 2008 & Feb 2009)

· an electric car demo & showing of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" (March 2009)

  • The NC Powerdown website also helped promote the YIKES! "Sustain" workshop series, sponsored by Durham Parks & Recreation (Dec -Aug. 2010)