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Reusing the rubble

Posted on Aug 30, 2013

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By Melinda Collins

Social enterprise occupies a unique space; a kind of halfway point between business and charity, it is a social mission driven organisation which applies market based strategies to achieve a social purpose.

Perhaps that’s what underpins the success of Rekindle, perhaps it’s the excellent products, or perhaps it’s just a great little home grown Kiwi idea.

A social enterprise that transforms salvaged wood from an earthquake demolition sites into stylish boutique furniture and other items, Rekindle is the direct consequence of a social conscience.

“It really came about through a blend of my own experience as an occupational therapist and my own practice as an artist working on sculptures using waste material,” founder Juliet Arnott explains.

“Through working in occupational therapy came the desire to work towards creating a therapeutic woodworking experience for people.”

Rekindle-jpg-HIGH-RES--BY-Laura-Forest-7While the idea was born during Juliet’s time living in the UK, the concept adapted easily to the quake-ravaged Canterbury region, at least on paper. “The reality is the main mission is to get the damaged houses demolished as quickly as possible because of the sheer scope of work to be done. So the agenda for demolition companies is to do that in the most cost effective manner possible. For them, that includes the use of a digger.

“We’re trying to work with companies to be able to salvage the wood prior to the digger arriving.”

James Jagger and Candice Adams are the two furniture makers whose skills are complemented by those of Tim McGurk who carries out sculptural works and Emma Byrne who makes the jewellery and other small objects. “It’s really important in terms of valuing the material we already have in our communities,” Juliet says.

“It gives people an opportunity to get involved in meaningful work transforming materials which are being thrown away into something which is useful both environmentally and socially.”

The items are strong and powerful pieces which represent a piece of history. “It has been really well received. We have created a positive response to something which was tarnished with loss and disempowerment.

“The furniture tells a story; every mark on these pieces represents the life of that piece.”

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