The Black Rock Arts Foundation helped Levi Strauss & Co. with their May 5th Community Day, during which Levi’s employees in San Francisco leave their regular office responsibilities behind and volunteer at Bay Area non-profits. BRAF was given a special role this year, supporting the company’s efforts to be better caretakers of the planet and reduce both water consumption and material waste in their manufacturing and ordering processes.
Over a dozen BRAF volunteers sculpted a literal “mountain” out of samples and scraps of Levi’s and Dockers that are produced each year to help demonstrate the scale of waste, the importance of reducing and re-using such items and
to encourage recycling usable samples vs. throwing them away. The mountain, which was installed at Levi’s Plaza was impressive, but represented just 10% of the some 71,000 articles of clothing samples generated each year that are otherwise unusable for Levi’s but perfectly good for other uses. BRAF was thrilled to be part of a project that is helping a major manufacturer in America to use creativity and art to inspire its employees to reduce, reuse and recycle. Everyone was so inspired and an absolute pleasure to work with!
Some highlights of note:
Artist Miranda Caroligne created a stage backdrop entirely out of Dockers samples and the president of Levi’s stood in front of it and stressed the importance of minimizing waste and considering the impact the company is having on the planet. She also created recycled table runners and decor that underscored this point.
Miranda also led the planning of a team of artists and Levi’s employees that converted waste denim into moving bags for a Homeless Prenatal program to provide young women with re-usable shoulder bags that could be initially used to move them into permanent housing. It is the hope that they will keep these bags and also use them for laundry and shopping. Levi’s employees helped sew and decorate the bags with messages such as “Love” and “Home Sweet Home”, using bits of scrap trim and fabric that were machine and hand sewn onto the bags.
Other artists involved with this important effort were Tammy Hulva of Tamo Designs (who also DJed for the volunteers for inspiration), Silver of Silver Lucy Designs, Boy Blondie of the Burning Man Cafe and Special Events Team and BRAF’s very own Josie Schimke. In all 86 shoulder bags were created that day and four were auctioned off to raise funds for the program.
Scatha Allison of Miss Velvet Cream led a team of Levi’s employees in creating 25 bean bag chairs out of salvaged materials for the Edgewood Center youth program and a banner that says “GO EAGLES!”
People loved working with Scatha and the program director sent a letter commending her and thanking her for making the day so productive and so much fun. Apparently everyone wants to sit in those beanbag chairs at the Center now! They’re very popular with the kids there.
BRAF volunteers also helped to sort items working with Goodwill and scraps and damage items were sorted to become other kinds of social benefit items and avoid becoming landfill. Truckloads of materials were brought out of storage and repurposed that day!
And to add to the festivities, Shovelman played his shovel to welcome back the nearly 900 Levi’s employees that volunteered that day at some 23 Bay Area charities and non-profits around the city.
It was a grand day all around!
To see many more great photos
author: $teven Ra$pa
photos: Kasey Neuenschwander