Monday, July 8, 2013

Hotel construction to begin across from the dumpster

For awhile I thought maybe we'd escaped, that the developers had had second thoughts about their awful plan...but no, it appears they were just tightening up their financing and polishing their golden shovels. Read more here -

And here are comments from the developers at the ground breaking - 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This green space

Months after construction was to begin on a Marriott hotel, the the fenced off area across from the Social Service League dumpster is being reclaimed by its previous tenants.

February 2013

June 2013   Can you spot the critter in the field?
Some of the plants are already four feet tall. Bees, butterflies, rabbits, birds and an opossum are just a few of the creatures that have come back.  Seeing it after being away for a month made me wonder what would become of this spot if it was left alone for a year or ten? There are other signs of activity in the alley around the dumpster including a bunch of new improvised artworks, while the flow of the give take give continues.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

give take give project featured in keynote address at KU

Below a post from the Rocket Grants blog
thank you Julia Cole

Lawrence-based artist Dave Loewenstein has recently completed his 2012 Rocket Grants project Give Take Give, in which he documented the informal gift economy that had arisen around a dumpster near his home. You can read his posts about the project here and here.
University of Kansas professor and author, Frank Farmer, chose Dave’s work to talk about the idea of a “citizen bricoleur” in his Keynote Address to the 2013 Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute held at KU, June 3rd-9th. This idea emerges from his most recently published book, After the Public Turn: Composition, Counterpublics, and the Citizen Bricoleur (Utah State/Colorado, 2013).
Posted below is an excerpt from the Address, but you can read the whole text here: Making Stuff and Doing Things.
It seems indisputable that Dave is first and foremost an artist, and an exceptional one at that. But he is more than an artist. He makes stuff and he does things. He is a socially aware citizen of Kansas, a proud resident of the East Lawrence neighborhood, an activist, a writer, and sometimes speaker. He is also a rhetorician, though I don’t know if he would embrace that title for himself. But his is a certain kind of rhetoric, what we might refer to as a non-propositional rhetoric. To be exact, Dave’s rhetoric, especially in this project, is a rhetoric of bearing witness, a rhetoric that attempts to stand as an embodied testament to the possibility that there might be other economic arrangements than the one imposed upon us, arrangements not in thrall to the imperatives of scarcity, which seems to be the unquestioned orthodoxy of our moment. Such rhetorics as Dave’s are not so much interested in debate and deliberation, as they are in providing lived examples, lived alternatives of ways of being in the world, ways that stand counter to what we are incessantly told we have no choice but to accept. In this respect, the gift economy that emerged out of  what Rachel Vaughn called “the little dumpster that could” bore witness to, and ideally prefigured, a very different kind of economy than the one that makes it necessary for some of our citizens to draw sustenance from dumpsters in the first place.
IMG_1259 - Version 2           
If you agree that Dave is an artist, and if you agree that he is also a rhetorician, albeit of a certain kind, would you also agree that Dave Loewenstein is what I have elsewhere referred to as a citizen bricoleur? Bricolage, as most of you know, refers to the various arts of improvisational construction, the everyday “making do” of the “handyman” or “handywoman” who, using those materials and tools readily available, fashions new objects out of worn ones, who imagines new uses for what has been cast aside, overlooked, or discarded; who turns remnant materials to new purposes; who deploys sheer resourcefulness to cobble together stuff that has otherwise been forgotten or scrapped. Certainly, on a literal level, our now famous dumpster provided ample opportunity for actual bricoleurs in the community to exercise their improvisational talents. But it also provided citizens like Dave to improvise something new as well. Dave did not make this dumpster, nor did he make new objects out of the items put in this dumspster. What he did make, though, were new meanings out of this dumpster. Those meanings include, as I earlier noted, “a temporary, autonomous zone of good will,” a thriving gift economy, an island community (so to speak), a new identity of sorts, and a certain kind of public within a public, a local public that, however limited or however temporary, confronted us with the possibility that there might be more fair, just and democratic ways to be with each other in our community.  It is in the making of these things that I think of Dave as a citizen bricoleur.
We need to recognize another kind of citizen—not only the one who dutifully votes, who takes pleasure in exercising civic pride, who advocates for various causes, who participates in local governance, who devotes time and money to a favored candidate, and so on. Of course, we need such citizens. Any meaningful democracy simply cannot thrive without its received forms of public engagement. But we need another kind of citizen too, the kind of citizen who believes democracy to be something more than law or policy, who understands that democracy remains always a yet to be completed project, who knows, far better than most, that while any given democracy must be changed from within, it must also be contested from without by those who exist on the other side of the alley, who do not engage in all the usual forms of participation, and who, because of identity, language, style, or preferred ways of being in the world, desire nothing less than an alternative kind of publicness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Final Friday - May 31st

Come see Give Take Give on final Friday May 31st  
(at the Lawrence Percolator)

Add your memories to the dumpster wall,
pick up a copy of the Give Take Give book,
and then walk a few steps over to the Social Service League to see what you can find in our neighborhood vessel of good will!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Really Really Free Art Swap

Bring art supplies you don't need and share them with others. Find yourself new supplies from friends and neighbors. 

Saturday, May 18th  & Sunday, May 19th
12 - 6
Lawrence Percolator (in the alley behind 913 Rhode Island)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Show & Tell

A beautiful evening. Thanks to everyone who came out for give take give. Here are a few photos from our show & tell. Coming soon...complete audio of the stories shared that night.

Kelly Nightengale

Earline James

Chris Lempa

Ashley Laird

Pat Slimmer

Jean Ann Pike

Eric Farnsworth

Dave Loewenstein

Amber Hansen

Friday, April 5, 2013

Give Take Give book release / Show & Tell

Join Dave Loewenstein and Give Take Give contributors for an evening of Show & Tell coinciding with the release of the beautiful, sixty page Give Take Give book. Project contributors and others will tell stories (if you have a story, you can share it!) about the beloved dumpster through the things they have found in it.

Saturday, May 11th
6 - 7pm  potluck
7 - 8      book release
8 - 10    show & tell 

at the Lawrence Percolator
(in the alley behind 913 Rhode Island)
Lawrence, KS

The Give Take Give exhibition at the Percolator runs from May 5 - 31

Cover of the give take give book
The Give Take Give project is supported by the Rocket Grants program which encourages work that is interdisciplinary and under-represented, and that engages audiences outside of established arts venues. The long-term goal of the program is to both encourage emerging and non-traditional art practices in the Kansas City region, and also to contribute to a thriving artists’ community. Awarded projects are therefore evaluated not only on the artistic merits of the proposed projects, but also on their capacity to stimulate further growth in a diverse and supportive art ecology characterized by unconventional and expansive forms of interaction, exchange, provocation, and surprise.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inventory #13

Sunday,  March 17, 2013
Saint Patrick's Day
37˚ overcast

With sounds of the St. Patrick's Day parade echoing from a block away, I made my last inventory before sending off the Give Take Give book to be printed. When I peeked over the edge of the dumpster,  I saw this looking back at me -

It was bound to happen - eventually something of mine, some photo, letter, artwork was going to show up. I've run into the personal items of lots of people I know and many more I don't over the years. I thought about leaving the Spring 2008 issue of Lawrence Magazine there, then thought it would weird if somebody else found it thinking that maybe I had thrown it out, or worse placed it there for effect, and so decided to give it to my mom. I didn't tell her where I got it. With that resolved, I resumed my inventory to find a particularly wide assortment of cast-offs awaiting the gleaners.

box of assorted hair curlers
Smithsonian magazines
extra-large Legos
jar of shoe leather cleaner
ceramic soap dish
Esquire magazines
"The Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post conviction Remedies: 2011-2012 Manual"
wooden shape match children's game
quilt patterns
gray-blue winter coat
toy walkie-talkies

Piglet's Big Movie dvd
notebook with weekly schedules and motivational essay on running marathons
St. Joesph's Indian School flower stickers
Scottish coloring book
New Yorker magazines
Medela Starter Assistance Supplemental Nursing Device
Play Skool map of the U.S. showing annexed and purchased territories
East Texas State University "Special" magazine from 1973
"Pooh Has Ears" book
alphabet jigsaw puzzle

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Comparing dumpsters in the Give Take Give alley

In the alley that runs in between New Hampshire and Rhode Island, from 9th and 10th streets there are five large blue city dumpsters, including the one behind the Social Service League. As a way of gauging the unique nature of what moves through the League dumpster, I took a walk down the alley to see what I'd find in the other four.

The alley looking north from 10th Street

Salvation Army dumpster

Dumpster behind 935 Rhode Island

Inside the dumpster behind 935 Rhode Island

Detail of trash in 935 Rhode Island dumpster

Lawrence Arts Center dumpsters including one for recycling cardboard

Bagged trash in Arts Center dumpster

Leaves in the Arts Center dumpster

Monday, February 18, 2013

Inventory #12

Friday, February 15th
11:00pm  31˚  snowing

Saturday, February 16th
2:30 pm  45˚  sunny

Glancing through the window of the Gaslight Tavern I noticed it was snowing all of a sudden, big flakes with almost no wind, landing in snow globe slow motion. I'd been planning on doing a night time inventory at the dumpster, but now with the snow what would I be able to see? I went anyway.

I love walking through falling snow as the harsh noise of the street becomes muffled and life slows down. Approaching the dumpster, it seemed empty - nothing protruding over its edges or spilling into the alley. I looked in just as a police car pulled away.

What could I write down? Maybe I saw the outline of a shoe and a curled up... body,  but who could say? I could get in (it would be harder getting out) but I decided not to. I'd rather imagine what's there than know, rather make-up a story than make another list of things. Look closely. What do you see?

Postscript: I returned about twelve hours later to see what would be revealed after the snow had melted, and was greeted by this herd of mismatched giraffes carefully placed along the dumpster's rounded edge.
To be continued...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Inventory #11

Thursday, February 7th
3:00 pm
45˚ Sunny

coat hangers some of them nice wood ones from The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin
a couple of raw yams
straw hat
two pairs of flip-flops
two fresh banana peels
small colored bible quote / prayer cards

men's Footjoy golf shoes
many books including:
"The House on Hope Street" by Danielle Steele
"Introduction to Economic Science" by George Soule
"Gather Together in My Name" by Maya Angelou
"Discipline and the Disruptive Child" 
Kansas City Scouts tote bag
blue sidewalk chalk
one ping-pong ball
"They Grow Like Weeds" posters by Anne Geddes
Pioneer Investments white baseball cap
handwritten cardboard sign that read "Homeless & Pregnant  Cold, Hungry + Very Tired  Please Help!  Thanks"
close to a full set of 1958 World Book encyclopedias 
Bible Fun coloring book and mazes
dried dandelions carefully wrapped and packaged in plastic bags
1991-92 color proofs for cover of Explore Magazine from the University of Kansas

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Introduction to Give Take Give

They say the National debt is $14,000,000,000,000.
The average family credit card debt in the U.S. is about $16,000.
The average student loan debt is $25,000.
We’re told that this debt will destroy our country, our families, and our potential.
Maybe…but I believe a certain kind of debt could be the thing that holds us together.

I have other debts.
To my family, I have a debt I can never repay.
To my teachers, I owe a debt of gratitude.
I am in debt to my peers, and past artists who have inspired me.
I am indebted to my friends and neighbors who never ask for the balance of what I owe them.
Looking at the ledger of my life, the accounts are never quite square. From some I receive, to others I give. We are indebted to each other and the cycle never seems to end.

In my neighborhood there is an annual event called the Free Sale where there is no trading and no money changes hands. I was reminded of the Free Sale a while back when I was introduced to the small gift economy that had developed out of a city dumpster in the alley near my apartment. Like the Free Sale, people were leaving what they wanted to give and taking what they needed. But unlike the well organized Free Sale, the rules of the dumpster were unspoken.

I am a participant in this exchange, and have documented its ever-changing contents. It is a wonder of mixed up treasure and a locus for neighborhood news. Its layerings of are like a living archeological site continually being excavated and reburied. An uncurated space, it is organized only by those who go through it looking for things, those who add to its bounty, and the sanitation workers who empty it once a week.

I always thought I would make something of my observations, but have hesitated until now. I held off because I worried that drawing too much attention to this place might overwhelm it. Now, I take that risk. Plans for a hotel to go in the space across from the dumpster have been filed with the city. Although It’s not clear how use of the dumpster would change if the hotel is built, the alley would become a far cry from the pedestrian corridor and improvised gathering place it is now.

Through photographs, interviews with participants, a regular inventory, and modest publication given away for free, this project will explore the economy of and stories connected to the dumpster. By shedding light on an alternate economy hidden in plain sight, I hope that others will be inspired to reflect on how gifts of labor, teaching and time, as well as things, can help bind us together in a connected circuit of good will. In other words, how this asymmetrical cycle of giving and taking engenders new relationships, creating a network of mutual indebtedness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Inventory #10

Friday, January 4, 2013
3:00pm 35˚ sunny

(I was met at the dumpster by Journal-World reporter Sara Shepherd who interviewed me about the project while Richard Gwin took photos)

View of the dumpster through fenced off area
that will soon become a five-story Marriott hotel

black costume witch hat
pink and blue jack-o-lantern trick or treat baskets
men's and women's sandals
assortment of women's shoes
cds painted to look like records
poster of irises mounted on foam core
glazed ceramic coil pot with the word 'Bath' embossed into its base
faux wicker wall decoration accessorized with plastic ivy
glass vases
tote bags
pink flower decorated tray table with stand
toy '911' police truck
wicker fruit basket
32 oz refillable drink cup
plastic cupcake
green denim pants
children's book "One Grain of Sand"
handmade watercolor Mother's Day card from 2000
lots more down below

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Take a penny, leave a penny

Coffee and a bagel, $4.97. I handed over a five dollar bill, got three cents change and put the coins in the little ceramic dish next to the cash register - a small gift for a future patron who comes up a few pennies short. The next time it may be me who needs the help, and without a second thought I'll reach into that same dish.

In a very unscientific study of coffee shops along Massachusetts St., I found that all five of the locally owned ones I visited maintained penny dishes, while the two corporate chains I checked did not.

It's a modest convenience to help make change and keep the wheels of commerce turning. It's also a form of gift exchange that operates right next to the cash economy. As pennies lose buying power (Canada minted its last one cent piece in 2011, and many in the U.S. have called for the End to the penny here), they are easier and easier to part with. But imagine, if there is, let's say, just $20 in change that circulates through these exchanges in Lawrence in a week, that would mean $1,040 in a year, and literally millions circulating freely across the country, from those with more than they need to those who don't have quite enough.




La Prima Tazza
All of us who give and or take a coin or two are participating in a kind of 'pay it forward' economy predicated on trust (there are no explicit rules for how many coins we can take) and long-term reciprocation (we can imagine that one day we will be the ones in need). This begs the question, if we can freely exchange pennies, nickels and dimes, why not quarters, and why other things like food, housing or education?

As an answer to my question above, an old friend who lives in Nevada City, California sent the blog post below. The original source can be found here. To see more photos of the veggie cart click here.

Outside Inn Veggie Cart

The Outside Inn’s veggie cart has made its 2102 season debut, for those of you who have been wondering when it would reappear.  The original antique cart didn’t weather the winter and we’ve been trying to come up with an alternative option to house our free neighbors vegetable baskets, so we apologize for the delay in the opening of our free fruit and veggie stand.  For those of you unfamiliar with our cart please check out this blog post about the 2011 Neighbors Vegetables season.  Lots of great pictures from last year’s bounty, click here to see more.  The Outside Inn loves watching the flow of traffic, from the generous people sharing their extra homegrown fruits and vegetables, to the folks who enjoy collecting a goodie or two to the Outside Inn guests who don’t understand the concept that the cart is free, the whole project is another reason why we love Nevada City.