What a fab afternoon I had yesterday at #Beetlemania and no, before you ask it’s not some meeting for people with a mad obsession with hard shelled insects or a band from the 60’s but it’s part of Gumtree’s #UpcycleRevolution.
For those that don’t keep up with the times, in recent years there’s been a surge in repurposing, upcycling, or whatever you want to call it. For the layperson, it’s basically taking old, unused and perhaps considered useless items – so Junk, and breathing new life into it by giving it a new purpose in life. So basically what our older generation used to do but now it’s all cool and trendy and items can fetch a merry sum! How does that saying go…
Now who better to head up Gumtree’s #Upcyclerevolution campaign than the very lovely Max McMurdo who has basically made a living out of upcycling since before it became in vogue and on trend. You really do need to check out some of his amazing works of art/beauty/design or whatever you want to call them at his Reestore website.
You may have seen Max on your teleboxes as he’s been on or in a few shows including being one of the judges on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year. This is where I met Max last year (did you know I won Garden Office Category on Shed of the Year?!?! Yes I know, you’re sick to the back teeth of hearing about my blooming shed obsession!) and we bonded over our ownership of Sinclair C5’s!
Anyway enough of tangents, back to the point!
Max has become a bit of an ambassador or even the ambassador for Gumtree’s #upcyclerevolution campaign and I think…I may be wrong and should really look it up first…this is the 2nd year he has run workshops for them.
So what is #Beetlemania?
Now I think most people would share my opinion that the iconic VW Beetle is a pretty awesome looking vehicle, love them or hate them there is no getting away with the fact they are iconic! Images of Herbie fill my head! Also my mum had one when I was a nipper, I remember it well as I had to sit in the tiny space behind the back seat which at the time did not impress me much! (Now I have Shania Twain playing in my head!)
So when I tell you that Gumtree provided Max and his merry team with a retro VW Beetle and the challenge of upcycling parts into useful household objects I can see some of you cry out: ‘that’s sacrilege’ but don’t despair as there is going to be a very happy ending as the Beetle was pretty rotten and was saved from the crusher and not only saved but most of the parts are being repurposed into lots and lots of household items that will bring joy to all those who are lucky enough to purchase them (This is where you guys can come in as you could be the very proud owner of some of these weird and totally wonderful pieces of art!) and this Beetle will be spreading it’s love into many a home!
But I haven’t got to the really cool and perhaps the most important aspect of #beetlemania. While it is heaps of fun for those involved and some people are going to end up with some pretty unique pieces in their home that can be a talking point at dinner parties, there are two great things that will come out of this project:
Firstly, it is raising awareness. We live in such a throw away culture and as a nation we are losing the ability of craftsmanship – I don’t know about you but my parents taught me from a very young age to cook, to sew, to knit, basic woodwork skills and much more. The important underlying message was ‘if it’s broke then mend it’ and I was equipped with the skills to do this (read I was raised to upcycle). It seems the lesson these days is ‘If it’s broke just toss it aside in the landfill and buy yourself a new one’. In fact it’s worryingly moved on from that to ‘It doesn’t need to be broke but the next shinier model is now out so let’s chuck out the model you got 2 minutes ago and get the new one’! So to me #upcyclerevolution is a great campaign to encourage people to see ‘junk’ with new eyes and to encourage them to roll their sleeves up and have some fun! The rise in the popularity of chalk paint is a great indicator that ‘upcycling’ of old furniture has become fashionable, a few years ago it was called ‘shabby chic’ but with time there’s been a move away from that term and it’s we evolve to what it is today!
Now I really hope I haven’t bored you all with my ramble and you are still with me, that’s the other problem with today’s society, everyone has now got used to everything being said in 140 characters, so I’ve probably lost the vast majority of you in the first paragraph but for the die hard, old school peeps that still possess the ability to read an article, I am now getting to perhaps one of the most important aspects of the #Beetlemania project.
So for me, what makes it so worthwhile is that all the money raised from selling the upcycled items will be going to charity mate! BUT not only that but whatever is raised the lovely people from Gumtree will be matching this amount.
Now I know we all are drawn to different charities to support but the one chosen by Gumtree is ‘The Butterly Tree‘:
THE BUTTERFLY TREE CHARITY SUPPORTS RURAL COMMUNITIES IN ZAMBIA DECIMATED BY THE HIV AND AIDS PANDEMIC – PROVIDING SAFE WATER, FEEDING PROGRAMS, IMPROVED HEALTH AND EDUCATION FACILITIES, MALARIA PREVENTION, SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY PROJECTS AND AN ORPHAN SUPPORT PROGRAM – ALL FUNDS GO DIRECTLY TO THE CAUSE – NO ADMINISTRATION FEES ARE DEDUCTED – ALL MEMBERS ARE VOLUNTEERS.
Those that know me well will know I’ve always had a passion for Africa that started at the age of 13 when I joined the Anti Apartaid movement and subscribed to the New Internationalist. After University I spent the summer in Kenya on a project and later became a trustee for a charity that supported an orphanage and school in Uganda and when working as a Legal Advisor for Asylum Seekers I dealt with many clients who had fled African countries for refuge. I also currently give to a charity called Spring of Hope that is a community-based rehabilitation non- profit organisation for children with disabilities in rural areas of Uganda.
What I love about this The Butterfly Tree is that it’s a grassroots charity that works with communities to enable them rather than encourage dependency on aid which has happened with aid in the past. Please, you really don’t want to get me started on this subject and at Uni I wrote many a paper on inappropriate aid and once you break open the seal I really won’t be able to stop, I really am passionate about World development issues and did at one point want to save the world – I have settled now with just making small changes where I can in the hope that this is more achievable and if we all changed little things then the big changes would then proceed . See, tangent again!
The other great thing about The Butterly Tree is it works with children – without wanting to sound cheesy, children are the future, treat them well and let them save the world!…sorry I’m not being flippant, it’s true!
Not only that but the money given to this charity goes directly on the projects and not on paying for personnel to compose expensive glossy paraphernalia and the odd pen which is rarely used to fill in the form to say you will increase your donation, to the people donating telling them what their money is going on. Sorry it’s just a personal bug bear of mine and I’ve actually stopped giving to charities that spend so much of their money on marketing activities like this out of principle. Saying that though I guess these activities do generate more funds over and above what they spend on it and don’t get me wrong a lot of these big charities are very efficient in raising awareness about certain issues and are great advocates for a cause It’s just a personal thing and that’s why I try and just donate to smaller charities where the money goes right to the root and you can actually see how your money is making a difference in lives. But we are all different and we all hold different causes close to our hearts which is a good thing as the world would be very dull if we all thought the same plus it means all causes are supported.
Anyway this blog post was originally going to be a blog post about what I got up to in the afternoon and how much fun I had and about all the great people I met yesterday and it was going to be interspersed with photos of a sneak preview of some of the projects but I really think I’ve gone on long enough so in brief I want to give a big shout out to all the below people who are involved and apologise to all the other people I met yesterday and due to my terrible memory cannot remember your names or handles (sorry showing my age again!).
Firstly, Max – one in a million – McMurdo (see what I tried to do there, Maxamilian get it? OK, I’ll shut up). Thanks for being you and for being so welcoming and injecting the fun factor. Oh and thanks for the pizza, cakes, sweets and all things bad for you! 🙂
But perhaps firstly I should have thanked the very lovely Marie Dalia from Gumtree who somehow stumbled across humble little me on the interweb and invited me to be a part of such an awesome and inspiring project! Without you… Also a big thanks for the Gumtree bag, the t-shirt, pen and the apron – love them all and will wear with pride and they will remind me of my afternoon!
Thanks for everyone involved in the project who were so welcoming and have been working their socks off all week for charity, I’ll name who I can remember by giving you their twitter names: (good to see you again!) and who is actually making a corset out of the car bonnet!
But last and really not least is my new BFF (well I don’t think he see’s it like that) Jez from Trong Upcycling () who was really helpful and provided me with some great little woodwork tips – I could have spent all day with him – doubt he could have spent the whole day with me as I was a bit over excited and didn’t shut my trap!
And then the other bloggers who were invited there, weird saying ‘other’ bloggers as it infers i’m a blogger! I’ve only been doing it 5 minutes so I feel it’s perhaps a bit premature to label me as one, whereas they were ‘proper’ bloggers and they were in no particular order, and again their twitter names: and who travelled from Liverpool, Bournemouth and Birmingham respectively and me, well I was lucky enough to be just 10 mins down the road.
But above all, and not sure why this has come last in the list, but maybe mentioning her last will lead you to clicking on the link and finding out more about the The Butterfly Tree charity or perhaps keep an eye out for the #Beetlemania products you could buy to support the charity. So the last person to thank is the founder of the charity Jane Koye-Bailey. It was great you made the long journey to come and talk to us with such passion and with first hand knowledge of how the money donated has made a massive impact on some Zambian communities and how they are empowering the next generation.
Right folks, I think that’s probably all you can probably take from me in one sitting so I’ll leave you be.
If interested please please please keep up to date with the project then pop #Beetlemania into twitter or check out Gumtrees Blog and have a nosey at what items are up for sale.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post then it would be great if you could hit the like button so I know I’m not just talking to myself and people do actually read my posts but even better if you think #Beetlemania and #Upcyclerevolution are great initiatives and deserves publicity and support then please do help spread the word by sharing my post!
Over and out…oh and if you enjoy the ramblings of a mad woman – that’s me – then please do feel free to follow my blog by popping your email address in the box in the top right of this page and you’ll get informed when I’m waffling again!
Until next time…adios amigos!