It isn’t waste ’til we waste it.

“Imagine a place in San Antonio where waste inspires creativity…because it isn’t waste ’til we waste it,” reiterates Mary Elizabeth Cantú, Founder and Director of Spare Parts. As an organization whose mission includes–cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; community, education and creativity, green-style–Spare Parts engages the public with many possibilities to reach zero waste...


Art Explorium merges art, academics & creative reuse

Art lives and breathes inside every segment of education.

It’s aloha again from our colleagues at Hawaii’s Art Explorium. You may remember Heather Williams & Julie Uyeno-Pidot from our previous blog post No Ocean is Wide Enough for spare parts–A Creative Reuse Tale between 2 Cities. We caught up with Heather & staff after reading about their recent Creative Reuse Open House for Teachers.

“By weaving the arts into & through our content in naturally aligned ways, we are providing relevance to student learning, & giving them an opportunity to connect their world to our classrooms,” said Susan Riley in an edutopia blog post.

Believing this approach combined with the creative reuse applications, Art Explorium staff hosted more than 50 teachers at an Open House event in July.

Heather–During the planning phases of this event we meet with other people in the community (educators, people from our local museum & arts organizations, etc.) to discuss what would be most valuable to teachers. We feel that if our projects integrate with critical academic subjects so that they support each other, teachers will be more likely to attend our event, find value in it, & to actually try these projects in their classrooms.

Making the event easy for teachers to attend was one of the most important elements.

Heather–We thought by using an Open House informal format teachers can stay as long or as little as they want. They don’t have to give up an entire day or half a day. Each station was set up with a different academic focus (language arts, science, math). With an arts education expert, teachers learned about two projects that tie in to an academic subject. For example, the science table this year featured Fabric Bowls & Cork Boats as the two projects. Each station also had relevant books set out so teachers could get ideas about other helpful resources. We invited them to bring their children with them. While they were getting materials & talking to resource people & getting project ideas, their kids could do art activities in another area. Teacher resource handout

More than 50 teachers attended, up from only about 10 in 2014, so we have definitely come a long way! Hopefully these teachers will take what they learned & share exponentially with their students.

Heather–Being a new nonprofit, the past three years have been a day-by-day learning experience where we try new things, see how they work, learn from them & move forward from there. We are now starting to see some patterns, & get a better understanding of who we are & what we do.

One of the best parts is that we have built a community around us – in our neighborhood, amongst the families that visit us, amongst teaching artists & other local organizations.

Art Explorium staff plans to participate in creative reuse art activities at some upcoming community events such as a STEAM event at Windward Mall and at the Kaiwi Coast Run/Walk later this month as well. They will do some activities at each event. And, they are presenting at a Preschool Conference in September to share creative reuse ideas with teachers there.

Creative Reuse Lesson Plan Pamphlet

Heather and Julie shared pictures of some of the event’s projects:

Carole with fabric bowl and cork boats

This year I really liked the Fabric Bowls because we have so much donated fabric. They are so cute & kids can really add their own personal touch to them. Carole on the left. She is an artist, an art teacher & a curriculum expert. She is giving ideas to teachers on how to integrate the science projects into their classroom

Janice at science station at workshop

Janice shares some of our favorite classroom resources including the t-shirt apron, robot kit, bottle cap mosaic &felt board.  T-Shirt Apron Directions

The author’s favorite project is the Found Art Collage. 


Laura CarterThe author's favorite project, Found Objects Collage is a writer, blogger, social media maven & nonprofit advocate. A communications professional, she is currently working with Blessed Sacrament Academy on Mission Road developing their communications/development programs. Laura serves on the Advisory Board of Spare Parts. In addition, she has volunteered all five years with TEDxSanantonio.




Guest Post: #IAMREGION8 Brings Child Abuse Center Stage

Laura Carter_spare parts guest blogger
Laura Carter, Communications Director, Providence Catholic School

United We Will Conquer Child AbuseRegion 8” live reading is collaboration against child abuse.

Something interesting is happening in the fight against child abuse. It involves a collaboration of artists, writers, actors and area nonprofits to bring awareness to the dire condition of the foster system in Texas. A new TV pilot, “Region 8” written by Windell Middlebrooks, actor and star of ABC’s “Body of Proof”, and Shannon Ivey, a Texas Lutheran University professor, is the basis for a live reading taken to the stage by Theater for Change.

Middlebrooks and Ivey are committed to giving a voice to the fragile children and youth in a broken system in hopes of encouraging lawmakers to make changes and volunteers to work with agency programs.  Shannon Ivey is also the founder of Theater for Change, a nonprofit consisting of dramatic media artists whose mission is to produce theater that will bring messages of awareness, compassion and a call to action. “Region 8” is their current project.

Region 8 –The Truth behind the Texas Foster System is based on true, compelling stories collected from hundreds of interviews from one of the most afflicted foster regions in Texas–a section of the State that runs across the South Central portion from Val Verde County in the west through Jackson and Calhoun Counties in the east, with Bexar County right in the middle. Though the name sounds innocuous enough, in terms of child abuse, nothing is harmless about Region 8. Alarming statistics of child abuse are found here. In a DPS report from February 2014, more than 8,000 confirmed victims of child abuse were reported. There is neither agency staff nor volunteer assistance to handle more than 1/3 of the cases.

In addition to sponsorship and participation of other nonprofits like Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA), Any Baby Can, St. PJ’s and SA2020, Mary Elizabeth Cantu’s spare parts will share some of the art projects generated by youth in workshops previously facilitated by CASA at the events. “We’re thrilled to present some of the artwork created by these young, creative heroes in partnership with #iamregion8 on April 4 and 6,” Cantu said.

Photo thanks to Theater for Change.
Cantu reading “What a Wonderful World.” Photo thanks to Theater for Change.

Cantu elaborated on her involvement working with the foster system. “spare parts was asked to facilitate art-making workshops with youth in the foster system. The theme for our creative times was hope, and we were inspired by the song “What a Wonderful World” sung by Louis Armstrong and written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. We also read the book “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney. Kids were encouraged to reflect on all of the wonderful aspects of their world and were given all sorts of reusable materials to make their own artwork. Everyone was so proud of their work and kept it; some allowed us to keep one of their artworks so it could be exhibited.”

Working with kids in foster care is one of the reasons why Cantu got into arts education and arts education advocacy. Cantu has 10 years experience creating curriculum and teaching art to kids in CPS care. “It’s a fact: the arts (from theater to dance; visual art to poetry) can allow kids to express themselves in a positive, productive way,” stated Cantu. “It can give them the tools to help with healing and to help with processing the past and set positive goals. The materials that spare parts uses show everyone you don’t need expensive supplies to be creative.”

I asked Mary how she got involved with the upcoming #iamregions8 events. “The Molly Cox! We are so grateful she connected us to Shelly Chance and Shannon Ivey of Theatre for Change,” Cantu said. “Ivey and Chance are devoted to being part of the solution of making change in the foster care system.”

IAMREGION8 spare parts art workshop
spare parts facilitated art workshops with youth in the Region 8 foster care system.

Melinda Tucker’s oldest son, William, is involved in the “Region 8” project by portraying a six year old boy who is in the State’s care, and has been terribly abused. When asked by his mother why he agreed to be a part of the live reading for the pilot, “Region 8”, William said “At first I was very hesitant because of the nature of abuse I would be portraying and was very uncomfortable doing so live on stage.” He added, “After praying about it, I decided that if I could make even a small difference in helping these abused and/or neglected children to be placed in a loving home then it would be worth it.” If this young man can overcome being ‘uncomfortable’ to help these children, shouldn’t we adults be able to do the same?


Friday, April 4th @ Texas Lutheran University Jackson Auditorium, 7pm – FREE ADMISSION

Sunday, April 6th @ The Empire Theatre, 7pm – TICKETS AVAILABLE


About “Region 8”: “Region 8” is a television pilot written by Shannon Ivey and Windell Middlebrooks, based on the true stories collected from hundreds of interviews from one of Texas’ most afflicted foster regions. “Region 8” is a powerful look into the lives of three people who are brave enough to endure the heartbreak, and rejoice in the triumphs of working as an advocate, a foster parent and a CPS investigator in a system that is seemingly broken from the inside out.

About Theater for Change: Theater for Change, 501(c)3, is a coalition of South Texas dramatic media artists who are committed to linking the stories inherent within theatre, film and new media to the needs and messages of nonprofit organizations. We aim to weld the weakest links in our community by producing, reviewing, and creating works of theater, film and new media that encourage awareness, compassion and a call to action.

Follow us on Twitter: @theatre4change