Photo by Robert Betz
ReUse Industries

A New Life for People and Products Through Makerspace

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What is Athens MakerSpace?

MakerSpace, the newest addition of ReUse Industries in Albany, Ohio, is set to expand.

MakerSpace encourages economic development and sustainability by providing tools and space to artisans in the Athens area. Through a variety of workshops, MakerSpace gives members the opportunity to learn new skills, expand their business or simply develop a hobby. 

Economic Influence

The original principle was to use anything from the waste stream to create art or something functional to sell. ReUse Industries maintains the principle of reusing waste, but MakerSpace takes that one step further by teaching locals new skills and getting them jobs.

The workshops often teach their students how to use tools they might not otherwise have access to. Fiber and fabric shops, woodworking, metal shops and laser engraving are just some of the training areas available to Makerspace students.

In an impoverished area like Southeast Ohio, those new skills can be lifechanging as members, armed with these new skills, are able to either sell their work or to start their own businesses.

Sean King, the workforce development coordinator for ReUse industries, said the workshops are often aimed directly at needs in the labor force. Where there is an opening, MakerSpace can sometimes fill that need creating a synergy between those needing a job and industry needing workers.

“If we can find places that need welders and we have people graduating from the welders’ certification program, then we can be like ‘hey, we’ve got another welder for you,'” he said. “That’s huge, that can change someone’s life in ways I can’t even think of.”

Sean King, workforce development coordinator for ReUse industries is working with Washington State Community College and Athens County Jobs and Family Services to teach new skills to students who will then fill openings in the local labor market.

Environmental Impact

Erin Hogan, retail and production manager of ReUse, says the primary focus since its founding in 1994 has been to thrift, saving things that would
otherwise go to a landfill.

In recent years, ReUse On Union and MakerSpace, have given area residents a place to sell upcycled art, fabric, sewing supplies, used books and more.

Upcycling is the process of transforming waste materials and unwanted products into
something new.

“Our commitment over the last 25 years has been to try to divert as many things possible from the waste stream and make sure they have a real second, or third, on up from there, life.” Hogan said.

MakerSpace also hosts upcycling competitions where participants can show off the creative ways they have upcycled.

“We challenge everyone in the area to submit their most creative reuse of just about anything.” she said.

ReUse has also gotten more innovative with their upcycling. Hogan says they aim is not to merely upcycle, but reinvent.

“Not just from a table to a table, from a table to something totally new,” she said.

ReUse also recently launched an online store named Athens FabMaker on Etsy, to further their mission of economic development with a focus on sustainability.