Illini Gadget Garage hours and upcoming events

Received via e-mail from my colleague Joy Scrogum:

I wanted to make you aware of the fact that the collaborative repair center for personally owned electronic devices, the Illini Gadget Garage, is officially open to the public this semester. Renovations to make the space ADA compliant were completed at the beginning of the semester, and the students have been hard at work making the interior more welcoming. Open hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 1 PM and Wednesdays from noon to 3 PM. We’re located at 1833 S. Oak St. in Champaign, just north of Hazelwood Drive. See for a map. For general information on the project, including volunteer, sponsorship, and educational opportunities, please see our flyer at

We were pleased to have the opportunity to spread the word about the project at the recent Campus Sustainability Day Celebration, and also have a couple of upcoming events this month. Next Saturday, November 12 from 11 AM to 2 PM, we’ll have our ‘grand opening’ and you are invited to stop by and learn more about the project, services and volunteer opportunities. We have 10 slots available for one-on-one troubleshooting and repair during the event, so registration is required. Please fill out the information on the online sign-up form to the best of your ability so the repair crew may be better prepared to assist you. If your response to this form is received and slots for this pop-up clinic are full, the Gadget Garage team will contact you regarding a time you might come into the shop on campus at a later date. Similarly, if the assigned time they provide doesn’t work with your schedule, they’ll provide options for you to visit the campus space or another pop-up instead. Click here for the Facebook event. See for the event flyer.

We’ll also be part of Urbana’s America Recycles Day event at the Anita Purves Nature Center on Saturday, November 19, from 11 AM to 3 PM. See for this event on Facebook, and for more information, including the link to the online sign-up form for one-on-one troubleshooting at that event.

We hope you’ll be able to join us at regular open hours or one of these events. If your department or organization would like to host a pop-up clinic in your building, please fill out our online form to indicate your interest and we’ll be in touch to schedule your session.

Turning Detroit’s Abandoned Homes Into Greenhouses

Read the full story from The Atlantic.

When Steven Mankouche first saw the house at 3347 Burnside Street in Detroit, in 2013, it was buckling and scarred with burn marks. An artist named Andy Malone, who lived nearby, had just purchased the lot for $500 and was hoping to find some way to bring it back to life. Mankouche, an architect, and his partner, Abigail Murray, a ceramicist floated a proposal to do just that, by commandeering the house’s foundation and repurposing it as a sort of plant nursery.

Inside the Little Free Pantry: a Q&A with its Creator

Read the full story at Shareable.

Earlier this month, Shareable posted a short article about the Little Free Pantry in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Created by Jessica McClard, the Pantry is an easy way for people to share surplus food and household goods, and access items they may need.

The response to the post has been incredible. In the first week, over 21,000 people read the article and it has been shared over 700 times on Facebook. Our hunch is that people love the low-cost, direct action approach that McClard is taking to fighting food insecurity on a neighborhood level. As we face overwhelming global issues, seeing a simple, human-scale project addressing problems on a local level is a welcome relief.

I spoke with McClard about why people are so drawn to the Little Free Pantry, what she hopes comes out of it, and the unexpected challenges the project has brought. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

The youth orchestra that turns waste into musical instruments

Read the full story at Equal Times.

Through the waste at a landfill site in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Asunción, Paraguay, hundreds of children walk with musical instruments, small and large, on their backs. The black cases do not hide a Stradivarius or a cello made from precious woods, but rather violins, guitars, flutes, saxophones and even a double bass made from coins, bits of pipe, plastic, tin cans and the remains of donated instruments.

Their proud owners are members of the Paraguay Recycled Instruments Orchestra, a group of children and young people that grew up in Cateura, a neighbourhood looked down on for its poverty and its closeness to the Asunción municipal dump.


Gowanus Recycling Center Seeks Artist-in-Residence to Turn Junk Into Art

Read the full story at DNAInfo.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and a neighborhood recycling center is looking for someone to prove it.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center is seeking applications for an artist-in-residence to set up shop at its Gowanus e-waste warehouse at 469 President St., near Nevins Street.

The position is unpaid, but artists get a 200-square-foot work space inside the warehouse and free use of any materials brought there for recycling.

In return, the artist is expected to create a product that can be sold at the warehouse and host workshops to teach the public how to reuse discarded electronics.