After a year of Uploving, what next?

The UpLovers journey began a year ago now. We started with an idea to engage local women through the process of upcycling and creating art and everyday items from what was destined to be trash in a landfill. Today we are at a point in time where the original journey has ended and now we look to the horizon for where we will go next.

We came up with this idea from the work of our friends at The Green Community Garden and Resource Recovery, who had been salvaging, reselling and repurposing items for a long time. They had been doing this to keep such resources out of landfill, and also with the aim of creating employment opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage. They had done this well, but we recognised that there more even more opportunities to divert more waste from landfill, and to do this in a way that would engage women in the local area.

We devised a series of workshops that would give women the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills and abilities that were most often out of reach because of gender. Using power tools is still predominantly seen as a ‘man’s job’ and we decided that this needed to change.

After much deliberation we decided on a series of workshops and applied to the Ian Potter Foundation for funding to support them over a one year period. We were successful in this application and over the last year we were able to deliver the following workshops to women in the Great Lakes area:

Safe usage of power tools and salvaging from landfill

Making mosaics from broken ceramics

Eco-printing with Rachel Piercy

Knitting discarded t-shirts with Katrina Norman

Soft toy making with Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald

Found Objects sculpture with Anita Larkin

Timber pallet furniture making with Shaun from Pallet Palace

Vinyl record reuse and repurposing

Traditional weaving with electrical cable

and Found Jewellery making with Barb Nanshe

By the end of this journey, with our fantastic silent auction and party at The Green Community Garden a month ago, a total of 97 participants attended over the 11 workshops. A simply amazing outcome for an initiative with limited resources. What is most important though is the quality of the experience for those who were involved in the workshops themselves. The following is a sampling of some of the positives taken from the workshops for participants:

“being able to create beautiful pieces … have some precious time to myself to do some creative artistic stuff”
“getting to know the other women who attended … making new friends”
“learning the skills and achieving — the fun and friendship”
“the versatile group working creatively was challenging and therefore more rewarding”
“confidence in using power tools and women supporting each other”
“creative use of a diverse range of materials, creative resources”
“it was a fabulous learning experience, empowering and educational”
“the people and the gay abandonment”
“helping to make a difference in other lives by teaching others new skills I have learned”
“this workshop was the rescue I needed — being with other women, being creative — it gave me a release from family and work demands, thank you”.

As you read these statements you understand that this initiative meant a lot to those involved.

All of these workshops were not possible without the support of the Ian Potter Foundation and a long list of supporters and volunteers along the way. Our hearts swell with gratitude for all of them for taking a chance on a bunch of women with power tools in hand.

The final stages of our journey with the Ian Potter Foundation saw us preparing for what lies ahead. We had some great advice from Community Resources Communications Officer Joshua Burguete-Kirkman about online selling and using social media to get our message out to the masses.

We are still figuring out our next moves as a newly born women’s group, and we are up for discussing any number of possible futures with anyone out there interested to have a yarn over a cuppa at The Green in Tuncurry.

Thank you again to everyone involved, and watch this space!


After a year of Uploving, what next? was originally published in Waste to Wages: Stories from the ‘Tip-Face’ on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.