Volunteers build piece of Raleigh's sustainable future

Volunteers build piece of Raleigh’s sustainable future

On a rainy Saturday, July 13, Activate Good volunteers gathered in a downtown Raleigh warehouse to help create elements for the Wilder’s Grove Project, a community based art installation. The installation has been commissioned by the City of Raleigh’s Half-Percent for Art public art program, which is implemented by the Raleigh Arts Commission’s Public Art and Design Board.

Wilder's Grove Art Project Raleigh Sustainability Activate Good
Volunteers don pieces of their artistic feats.

The artists behind the project, Matt McConnell (McConnell Studios), Lee Cherry (NCSU College of Design), and Marc Russo (NCSU College of Design), hope to raise awareness of the impact of waste on the environment and the importance of thoughtful waste management. When complete, the wall will be installed inside Wilders Grove Service Center – Raleigh’s new 27-acre recycling solid waste facility on Beacon Lake Drive. The center is the nation’s first integrated solid waste facility and was built to LEED Platinum standards, which measure a building’s sustainability.

Facilitating sustainability in Raleigh

The facility reduces energy consumption by more than 40 percent using renewable geothermal energy, LED lighting, solar photo voltaic panels and a web-based building control system. Recycled building materials were incorporated throughout construction of the facility and nearly 95 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.

The art installation will feature an 8×40 foot wall covered with items that are usually recycled, including cardboard boxes, plastic bags and fabric scraps. The materials will have a kaleidoscope theme that mimic the colors and shapes found in nature. The wall will also include interactive videos that explain the recycling process.

McConnell said they asked for help from the community because they wanted to go beyond just having the public view the completed installation:

[quote]“We thought that the piece could not only inform visitors to the center,” said McConnell. “But also teach participants in the fabrication of the elements to be more mindful of their waste.”[/quote]

Volunteers do not necessarily have to be artists themselves. They can use the opportunity as a chance to learn more about the creative process. “Involving the public has shifted the process, and through this informed both us as artists, and the public, who don’t often have an opportunity to be exposed to the way these projects are conceived and built,” said McConnell.

Wilder's Grove Art Project Raleigh Sustainability
One of the finished panel bases.

Activate Good volunteers worked for three hours turning the donated items into elements that will be attached to the wall. Four work areas were set up for each aspect of the recycled materials portion:

Wilder's Grove Art Project Raleigh Sustainability Activate Good
Some volunteers got hungry seeing all the food boxes.

1. Participants cut various sizes of red and yellow circles from empty food boxes to be used in a collage.

2. Others clipped the tabs from aluminum cans and linked them together to create chain mail.

3. Strips were cut from plastic bags for volunteers to roll into “yarn” balls. The strips will be crocheted into panels for the wall.

4. Donated clothing in various shades of green was cut into strips that were tied onto ropes, creating another textural element for the wall.




Wilder's Grove Art Project Raleigh Sustainability Activate Good Adam Peele screenprinting
A young volunteer makes her own T-shirt.

In addition to helping put together artistic elements for the piece, volunteers had a chance to take some art home with them. A special guest, local artist (and previous Couture for a Cause designer!) Adam Peele, was on hand to screen-print items with the logo he created for the project. With his help, volunteers were able to screen-print their own T-shirts.







Some decided to “tattoo” the logo on their arms.

Wilder's Grove Art Project Raleigh Sustainability Activate Good Amber Smith
Matt McConnell and Amber Smith flex their creative muscles.


It is not too late for you to get involved! There is an additional public build planned for Saturday, July 27 from 11-3 p.m. at Guth Sound & Electrical Service, 1115 W Lenoir Street. The Wilders Grove project will also be a service project at Activate Good’s 9/11 Day of Service, Activate Raleigh. All ages are welcome.

Learn more about the Wilders Grove Project and see pictures of the installatation’s progress at their Facebook page. The completed project will be installed at Wilders Grove Waste Facility in September.

Keep up with Activate Good for updates on great volunteer opportunities like this and more!