March 23, 2013

Building Community, Solving Problems & Spreading Happiness with Trash. ~ The Scrapsisters

The Vacant Lot Dump

The Vacant Lot Dump is a magical community building event.

Picture the vacant lot at 21st and Pearl Street in Boulder: 60 children, ages kindergarten through 12th grade, along with a dozen artist mentors, gathering on a chilly October morning to build art from trash.

The students organize into teams and are assigned an artist mentor to guide them on their creative endeavor. The Scrapsisters spell out the rules; each team will gather their materials, formulate a plan of action and build, build, build.

Already a hardware store has appeared, with tools and supplies, while the kids wait expectantly for their art materials.

Beep, beep, beep! The dump truck backs into the lot and unloads a heaping pile of trash that will serve as the reclaimed building materials. On your marks, get set, go!

It’s like a dump truck sized piñata being broken open. Enthusiastically, the youth rush over to stake their claim on the materials. At first glance, it looks like a pile of junk, but the kids and their mentors assess the items they’ve chosen and strategize the art building sequence.

Once their projects are envisioned, the teams head over to the popup hardware store to begin line up to cut wood and pick out hardware. The vacant lot is now a flurry of activity as the art starts to take shape. Some kids even show pride in naming their team.

One little boy shows up tardy and has a desire to build a robot. The only scrap he’s found is a piece of rusty wire. He asks the Scrapsisters what he should do and together they approach the other teams and ask for good robot scraps.

Generously, each team shares some of their best bits, to make the dream of building a robot possible. Along with art, community is being built on the vacant lot.

As the time flies by, each team has transformed the trash into gallery quality art. The delivery truck collects the art to transport to the gallery opening that night. Since the Vacant Lot Dump, a couple pieces of artwork have found permanent display at a local elementary school and a downtown co-working space.

The Dumpster Squad has transformed the vacant into a vibrant temporary venue for artists to create beauty from otherwise useless objects. Making art from trash reverses consumption by providing free materials that have already been discarded.

Keep apprised of future Vacant Lot Dump events. Visit the Vacant Lot Dump on Facebook.

The Dumpster Squad is a group of partners whose mission is to build community, spread happiness and solve problems with trash. We educate local students and teachers through free reclaimed material art workshops. Many thanks to the community sponsors who made the first Vacant Lot Dump possible!


The Scrapsisters teach people to rediscover happiness by realizing the potential in objects that get discarded everyday. By turning trash into treasure, we provide access to achievable joy.







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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assistant Ed: Christa Angelo

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