Upcycling is reusing discarded objects to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
Surely that’s what we should be doing with people who are discarded and with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
I believe in people. I even like people. To think of people never being able to break the mould and become better/different/valuable just because of birth or life circumstances makes me scared.
If some people are disadvantaged because of life, we are all at risk. Circumstances can change at any time. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
I think of the kids living on Baruni Rubbish Dump in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea; PNG) and I shake my head in disbelief. HOW has that happened? PNG is resource rich, and, a beautiful country. Port Moresby is my closest capital city and city of my birth.
How is it that we have discarded children foraging for survival on a filthy rubbish dump.
I do recycled craft to stop discarded objects going into ocean or landfill. I constantly upcycle – I turn junk into funk. I work with disadvantaged women to teach them the skills to weave post-consumer plastics into beautiful fashion products. We upcycle plastic garbage and I focus on that.
Why am I not upcycling people as well? Surely they are more important than craft skills? Inadvertently I am. But; the definition of professional is being able to clearly articulate what you do. I upcycle people as well as upcycling plastic garbage.
With the help of a friend of mine, Bronwyn Clee from Darwin, an upcyling people movement has been born. My speaking journey has taken a slight turn and my speaking message is not just about talking garbage but about upcycling people.
I am off to Baruni Rubbish Dump in September to work with people living on the dump, kids at a tiny village school and women in prison. I will be teaching them to weave and setting up a distribution chain for their finished products. But, more importantly, I am off to upcycle people.
With Operation Food for Life, I am going to take these discarded people and create a sense of higher quality or value than they originally had. These kids are no longer going to be dump kids – they are going to be paid plastic suppliers for gorgeous fashion bags. Bags will be sold in Australia and 100% of the money returned to the kids through Operation Food for Life‘s monthly work at Baruni Rubbish Dump.
This project is the basis for my speaking. Port Moresby today, kids in Timor Leste tomorrow.
Upcycling people. Yes. That is the right thing to do.
Before you go off to talk garbage, I would love to know if you have you ever thought about upcycling people? Let’s talk about this – leave a comment and I will respond.
Megan Bayliss xxxx
PS: I am presenting my upcycling people journey at a PechaKucha night in Cairns on Wed Aug 19th. I would love to see your face there and to talk more with you about ideas for upcycling people.