Recyclosaurus: When Recycling and Art Come Together

The business of supporting a busy campus like Georgia Tech does not often afford the folks in Facilities Management opportunities to participate in art projects or children’s charities. This summer, however, Facilities has had a small hand in both. Marilyn Somers, Georgia Tech’s Living History Program reached out to Facilities: Office of Solid Waste Management & Recycling to receive water bottles to help create art projects at a refugee children’s camp. The office rose to the challenge, contributing over 1,000 bottles that were transformed into building blocks and made into a dinosaur.

“We like to help out the community any time that we can," explained Associate Director of Solid Waste Management & Recycling Cindy Jackson. "In this instance, Georgia Tech’s multi-stream recycling program enabled a direct supply for this group’s art initiative. That’s really rewarding!”

Over 400 refugee children participated in the camp at the Clarkston Community Center and Hillside Home, which ran from June 12-21. Renowned Turkish artist and art educator Baris Karayazgan led the project, teaching the children how to create extinct and endangered animals out of empty, plastic water bottles while weaving in lessons on the value of recycling. “Karayazgan is not only an artist, but also an environmentalist and teacher who truly knows how to relate to children,” said Somers, who helped with the camp. “The laughter and pure delight as the children see the bottles assembled into animals is magical.” 

This is Somers’ 19th year volunteering with the Art Reach. This year’s camp was initiated by the group as part of their mission to bring art to traumatized children around the world. Based in Atlanta, ArtReach got its start 19 years ago as a refugee outreach program. In 2016, ArtReach launched its local outreach to the burgeoning refugee community in the Atlanta area. The art camps allow for the children of displaced families to be treated to music, drama, art and creative writing to help ease the discomfort of displacement.

One of the larger pieces the children created, a dinosaur appropriately named the “Recyclosaurus,” is soon to be showcased as part of an exhibit at the Fernbank Natural History Museum.

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