Something that has become a major problem is getting rid of things we don’t need. Junk often collects in people’s sheds, garages and even gardens over the years. Sometimes, these things may be damaged in some way so the owners know they couldn’t sell them. At other times, people dump them in a common area that has not been designated by the council and it ends up causing an eyesore and a real problem for both the community and the environment.
This shouldn’t be seen as a problem but as a great opportunity. There is probably going to be an abundance of material that could be collected and re-used to make new items of furniture (as well as other things) that can also make use of creative design skills to create unusual things that can’t be found easily.
This is how such a venture could be set up:
– Find a disused factory building and try to strike a deal whereby the cost of acquiring it would be low (emphasise that it is for the good of the community in many ways – jobs, recycling, etc.) You could also ask the community to donate towards buying a building, if it is not too expensive. If this can’t be done, at least to begin with, work in someone’s garage or shed while you get things up and running.
– Form a group of people to design and make items of furniture (for inspiration, take a look at this ‘Cool Home Design’ section on Oddee).
– You could even set it up so that customers tell you what they would like, maybe even give you their own designs, and you make what they request. If people know that they can get things to fit their rooms and to their own specific wishes, there is a greater chance of success.
– Make it known to the public that you will gladly take all their bits of junk that they don’t want and offer a free collection service.
– Ask people to donate tools or sell them cheaply to you. It’s easy enough to work with non-electric tools for a lot of things (I’ve made furniture in Ecuador using a machete, a blunt saw and a load of rusty nails that I’ve hammered in with a rock! – See below) and it keeps the energy costs down.
– Organise your business so that the people who work there are the management and all the sales made go to the workers, either equally or to the worker who made the product that was sold.
If you minimise the energy costs by using mostly manual tools, natural light and so on, and you produce innovative items, your success will depend simply on your own work.
As long as you can arrange a deal so that you don’t have to pay high rent and that the council supports such a community-empowering venture, I believe this can generate a lot of work and money for the local economy.