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August 2, 2012

Meeting with Harriet Taub, Materials for the Arts-Joseph Escobar, City of Providence


This past Friday I met with Harriet Taub, Executive Director for Materials for the Arts. MftA is a program under the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, which, “collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and distributes these donations free of charge to non-profit organizations with arts programming, government agencies and public schools across the five boroughs.”

For an hour, we talked about the upcycling structure of the program within NYC, covering considerations such as working with the government, artists, material sources, and reaching out to other universities. The MfrA also has an eco-friendly component; Harriet informs the Sanitation Department on how much material they divert from the landfill.

Projects such as MftA can influence class room learning. Through the Common Core, which many states including RI have adopted, public school teachers need to incorporate project-based learning into their lesson plans. These reuse centers provide and encourage creative reuse of unwanted materials, creating a following of teachers who constantly return back for supplies.

MftA public-private entity, represents a good partnership between the government and nonprofits, ensuring that durable goods do not enter the waste stream and instead are reused.

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