Yes, I know it sounds strange, but a visit to the SF dump can actually be – inspiring. That’s because the company managing the City’s waste stream, Recology, is a progressive, company-owned organization that sponsors artists and that leads public tours of the facility that will leave you wanting more. Sure, it can be a little, um, stinky, in parts, but touring their sculpture garden, hazardous waste facility, artist studios and recycling stations will likely incite you to run out and buy a compost bucket – or at the very least – think much differently about your trash.
I’ve posted about Recology’s Artist in Residence program before http://sunsetscavenger.com/AIR, but a quick recap might be in order. Every year, they sponsor six artists and provide them with studio space, a stipend and materials from the waste stream from which to create wonderful things. The mandate is that each artist is encouraged to utilize only what comes from the dump to make their works of art. Seems like slim pickins’ but as we toured the studio, we saw the area where the current artists Lauren DiCioccio and Abel Rodriguez had set aside colorful objects, statuary, toys, vintage collectibles and other items they retrieved from the garbage heaps that may one day become part of their art installation. Or, if not, it will be given away for free when they have their exhibit. The artists have 24-hour access to the studio and each day are given a pass to use whatever is pulled out of the waste stream to use as inspiration or actual material. On our recent tour there were several Artist-in-Residence applicants getting the inside scoop in preparation for the looming September deadline.
Here are some of the facts that I learned from our tour and found particularly interesting/disturbing:
-Every day there are at least 1,400 tons of garbage processed at the dump. 1400 tons. And that’s just for San Francisco;
– Approximately 60 long-haul truck trips originate from the dump everyday to take whatever can’t be reused or recycled to the Altamont landfill;
– Any items that can still be re-used are plucked from the waste stream and donated to St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores (good to know!);
– An entire garden has been planted complete with rosemary, lavendar and other gorgeous flora made up entirely of plants that were thrown away. You should see it!
– Chunks of the Embarcadero Freeway have been crushed down to make the walkway throughout the sculpture garden;
– There are over 35 art pieces throughout the sculpture garden, many of which can be seen on the following link http://sunsetscavenger.com/AIR/sculpturegarden.php; and
– Styrofoam is put into a hopper at the dump and turned into a material that is then turned over to a company that manufactures molding out of it for our homes.
Tours of the Sculpture Garden are held the third Saturday of each month, but reservations are required. Next time you have out-of-town guests, skip Alcatraz and take them to the dump!