The EcoGrrl Interview: Kelley



Kelley is THE Queen of Creative Reuse. Not only is she Executive Director of SCRAP, which started in Portland (she’s since expanded it to other states, including her new home base in Texas, she also co-authored “The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Creative Reuse Center”. I had the chance to tour SCRAP during my Master Recycler certification in 2011 and recently caught up with her when she was in town.  One city at a time, Kelley is blazing the repurposing trail!

What or who inspires you most? I’m inspired by different people for different things. Professionally, I’m inspired by brilliant people I’ve worked with, those with dedication and creativity. Conceptually, I’m inspired by Muhammed Yunis and other social entrepreneurs. I’m always inspired by the bright, dedicated and creative thinkers/doers/makers at SCRAP.

What do you turn to when you need strength? If ever I feel that my contributions in life are insignificant, I look for a volunteer opportunity. It’s great for the community and great for the soul. I am lucky to have lots of love in my life – and that is where I turn for encouragement and, when necessary, corrective feedback.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? Women can best support/empower women by mentoring. If they are further along in their careers, they can offer opportunities, collaborations, sage advice and support.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? I’m not much of a gardener – but I love the big Texas Sage in our front yard that attracts bees and the giant rosemary that attracts butterflies. Otherwise, I am pleased to have a draught resistant landscape with minimal maintenance required.

What are your creative outlets? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but you haven’t? I always have a creative project happening – often one that will never see the light of day. I love knitting without a pattern with leftover yard skeins (fun, but not always successful), sewing with fabric strips, creating gifts from reused materials around the house or those I find at SCRAP. I would love to be skilled enough to reimagine and reconstruct clothing… that’s my dream.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? I am a big homebody. A perfect night at home for me is starting with a nice dinner with my husband at 6, an after dinner walk, working on a writing or creative project with a kitty on my lap while my husband “sheds” (jazz term) in the music room and then meeting up for a cocktail, the Daily Show and an episode of Homeland.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. SCRAP! We have 5 locations. The mothership is in Portland and we have 4 budding SCRAPs in Traverse City, MI, Washington DC, Denton, TX and Humboldt, CA. We are providing a unique community service in these communities who would not have access to reused creative materials – nor a home for the creative materials no longer wanted.

  2. Oregon Humane Society

  3. Mercy Corps

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life? What’s next? When I first engaged in the creative reuse movement, I made an 18 month commitment to buy no new non-consumables. It was life altering. I see consumption far differently now. have loads of room for improvement. I would like to be diligent in using the gray water we produce at home.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary? Why? My home. Everything I love is here — except my children and grandchildren who I miss terribly. I also adore the Oregon coast and feel rejuvenated at the ocean.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Relax! Don’t take yourself so damned seriously. Take risks. Follow your North Star – it will always guide you in the right direction.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? I think for our planet to be saved every single person has to make a commitment to reduce waste. I don’t know how that happens – but it must.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues? What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? The first “eco” thing I ever did was save and cash in bottles as a kid in Oregon.

How do you live simply? I live simply by being conscientious and intentional about my footprint. I don’t just mean my carbon footprint – but the impact that I make wherever I am. I strive to be aware of my surroundings in a thoughtful way. I want to help others shine, leave a wide space for others’ thoughts and ideas, maintain kindness and creativity and use resources conservatively. And always think critically, act inclusively and express myself creatively.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” ~ Dorothy Parker

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