Betsy Dassau would be happy if trash cans were obsolete. The founder of Carolina Creative Center is always on the lookout for ways to reuse items that otherwise would be destined for the landfill.
The center, known as C3, is a nonprofit organization devoted to environmental responsibility and the arts. Its mission is to reduce, redirect and reuse local waste.
“Make art, not waste,” Dassau says.
Cary Creative Center started in 2011 and is undergoing a rebranding to better reflect its target reach. In March, the program moved to a 3,680-square-foot space in Cary Towne Center near the children’s carousel. Less than 400 square feet is used for storage, Dassau says, because, “if it’s not out, nobody knows it’s there.”
Crafters and artists can find inspiration and a wealth of discarded materials for their projects. For those who need more direction, small kits are available, as well as display items created with supplies on hand in the store. Fabric, tiles, jewelry and trinkets are just a sampling of the current inventory.
“Art is accessible,” Dassau said. “We take usable material and keep it local. If you keep resources local, it enhances the entire community.
“Artists see things others don’t, and they transform it.”
At the children’s table, there is plenty to spark creativity, and no one will complain if a mess is made.
“If you give kids a safe environment to create, there’s no telling where they will go,” Dassau said.
All ages are encouraged to find a project. A die-cut center is available for use for a small fee as are sewing machines. Those who don’t know how to sew can take a class.
“It’s learning a skill,” she said.
Teachers are encouraged to share specific needs so the store can begin accepting and stockpiling particular items.
C3, a member of the Reuse Alliance of North Carolina, is modeled after other creative reuse and scrap material programs. One corner of the store is dedicated to an artists’ marketplace, giving local artists a venue for their works.
While the larger space is ideal, the new location presents its own challenges. The store, next door to the vacant storefront once occupied by Sears, is easy to miss by mall walkers. Dassau combats that by holding demonstrations and special events to attract shoppers.
Every Wednesday evening, C3 holds Pinterest night, where users can make a craft from the crafty website using materials already in the store.
The success of C3 relies on donations and volunteers.
“We have ideas,” Dassau says. “We need volunteers to help us execute them.”
She says corporate sponsors are also key for the program to be self-sufficient.
“Since March, we have rescued 3 tons of material, and since 2011 we have rescued 53 tons,” Dassau said. “We know that because we keep track by weighing everything that comes in.”
The long-term goal is to educate the community.
“Essentially, we want to put ourselves out of business,” she said. “To be where everybody finds a use for everything they have.”
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About Carolina Creative Center “C3”
Location: 1105 Walnut St., Cary Towne Center, near the carousel
Contact: 919-247-1564, www.carycreativecenter.org
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; noon-6 p.m., Sunday