Upcycle St. Clair

St Clair Superior Development Corporation

Funding Received: 2013
Cleveland, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
March 18, 2014

Upcycle St. Clair is a comprehensive, arts-based strategy working to demonstrate how creative reuse can lift an entire Rust Belt neighborhood through education, community empowerment, and market-driven responses, proving that creativity is the key to Cleveland’s renewal. Part of the beauty of our lofty and comprehensive goals is also its challenge: there’s a lot to manage. Our daily tasks revolve around new business incubation, start-up of a creative reuse center, promotion of the district through creative vacant space activation, developing St. Clair as a neighborhood home for existing upcyclist artists, staffing community outreach efforts and developing our fellowship programs. It’s not often that the project feels completely integrated with the daily work of the long-term staff of the Community Development Corporation that hosts Upcycle St. Clair, but currently, it’s all fitting together. Together we’re all gearing up to celebrate St. Clair’s Slovenian heritage with the second annual Kurentovanje Festival and parade in St. Clair. The festival, which features ethnic food, dance, costumes, crafts, and a community parade, is a Slovenian tradition that stomps out winter and brings in the spring season. The Kurent, a large character covered in sheep fur, is the character that does the stomping, dancing, and crowd pleasing. They’re fuzzy and giant sized. This year, Upcycle St. Clair is involved in a few ways:

-- The Upcycle Parts Shop creative reuse center is hosting community crafting all day with our special flavor of creativity mixed with leftover materials (remnants, scraps, otherwise thrown away materials that breed potential when combined with scissors, tape, string and encouragement.

-- Staff from the Upcycle Parts Shop has been working weekly with the Upcycle Ambassadors after school club to create head dresses made from upcycled foam core to wear in the parade.

-- The art teacher at Saint Martin de Porres high school has taught us all how to score cardboard and foam core to make it into something beautiful and we are sculpting pretty amazing headdresses that we can’t wait to parade in.

-- A vacant storefront along St. Clair Avenue (also along the parade route) will host an installation by a local upcyclist who plans to repurpose lights to spell out some language in the window. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

-- Inside this small shop we plan to provide tables for local upcyclists to sell their wares.

Last year our district welcomed several thousand people for the first annual festival. A year later and a measurable amount more creatively upcycled, we can’t wait to celebrate Kurentovanje this year. It’s our first year of the Upcycle St. Clair project and St. Clair Avenue is the hub of all the activity. Our insight is the reminder that celebration is an important part of productivity and progress. We spend a lot of time implementing and building this project and its lofty goals. It’s exciting work and it deserves to be celebrated!