Unusually Clever People

Where Michele’s next slate mantle is coming from


I am really stretching the parameters of our charge in this post, but recycling and reuse have everything to do with green. And we like green, right? The nice-looking man you see above (photo by kc kratt) is Michael Gainer. He founded Buffalo ReUse, a group that is featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine today.

What Buffalo ReUse does is salvage materials from buildings scheduled to be demolished and collect them for the future use of DIYers who might be in the market for original Victorian hardware, vintage doors, classic molding, and yes, fireplace mantles, slate or otherwise. Often, the ReUse gang will engage in “deconstructing” houses that would otherwise be crushed into oblivion by a bulldozer, so that more materials are left intact. And that’s not all; ultimately, they’d like to make sure more homes are saved and restored rather than obliterated.

What’s this got to do with gardening? Where vacant lots exist (the result of demolitions), Gainer says: “We want to get a green space program rolling in the spring where we mobilize volunteers on the weekends to try to convert abandoned lots into productive green spaces. If we can get the funding to do it, we can hire more people to focus on that and let that be their project.” By productive, he means urban farming, a concept that is becoming widespread in Buffalo, just as it is in Detroit.

Posted by on March 9, 2008 at 9:00 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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5 responses to “Where Michele’s next slate mantle is coming from”

  1. Michele Owens says:

    Love these people!

  2. Valerie says:

    We have something similar here: http://www.resourceyard.org/
    and it just occurred to me recently that it would be a good source for yard art. (yart)

  3. Lisa Albert says:

    Recycle/reuse centers are springing up everywhere (yeah!). Portlanders have http://www.rebuildingcenter.org/ and http://www.pdxrestore.org/.

  4. Peg says:

    Good to see something good happening in Buffalo–that city has been decimated in recent years with so many people just up and leaving…

    Just a thought: if the building materials are a “free” byproduct of paid demolition work, can’t a portion of the proceeds made from sales of reclaimed materials go to help create seed funding for the garden initiative as well?

    I wonder this as I am trying to figure out a way to generate funding to do some gardening rehab in some of Albany’s more dire neighborhoods…

  5. eliz says:

    Michael has been a whiz at finding funding for all kinds of initiatives and I am sure the green spaces would be paid for through combo of grants and such revenue as you suggest.

    Even in bad times, I find that funds for beautification projects are usually available, mostly though govt. grants and private foundations.