OUR AMAZING STAFF!
Left to right: Tommy Baker, Lynn Polke, Peyton Huff, Soloman Sanders, Skye McLeod, George O’Brien and Sarah Goff
MIKE MYERS – Co-Founder and Artist
Mike has been involved with recycling for the past forty years. In the past ten years he has noticed a welcome awakening of consciousness towards the diverting of recyclables and other valuable resources from the nation’s landfills.
As a self taught artist Mike has blended his decades long construction/woodworking techniques with the reuse/repurposing of discarded and found objects. He likes to think of the local dumpsters as his shopping cart. This wealth of materials allows him to explore new and exciting multi-media art forms. Mike has exhibited in juried art shows from Myrtle Beach to West Palm Beach and west to Lafayette, LA including Gainesville’s Spring Arts and Downtown festivals. He has classroom collaborations of intarsia type art on permanent display at local Alachua County schools and in the past has displayed his art in the Alachua County Commission chamber.
As a co-founder of Bearded Brothers deconstruction and salvage in 2005 Mike has developed a love for the use of historic architectural elements and has found local outlets for recycled materials which sometimes involve other artists and sometimes involve chicken coops.
In 2012 Mike helped to co-found The Repurpose Project, a community based non profit creative reuse center in Gainesville, FL. Around The Repurpose Project, Mike is affectionately known as UNCLE MIKE!! Today Mike is turning his “forever young spirit” and recycled art in the direction of education. He hopes to develop a collaborative spirit of learning with future generations, fostering a focus on rethinking what we throw away.
Contact Mike: email@example.com
SARAH GOFF – Co-Founder and Artist
Sarah Goff grew up on the island of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands where she was more interested in picking up trash than looking for sea shells. After graduating from New College in Sarasota with a BA in Natural Science and Fine Arts, she embarked on a fashion career in New York City. Eventually, her concern for the world she lives in and a desire to be closer to family led her to S. Florida where she fell in love with a creative reuse center, Trash to Treasure, and all the hard working folks there. Her interest in gardening and nature has since brought her to north Florida where she, her husband(Brian), and two daughters Betsy and Georgia enjoy the woods and the space for a large garden. She LOVES Gainesville, but missed the creative reuse center so in January 2012 she and Mike Myers decided to start The Repurpose Project.
Contact Sarah: firstname.lastname@example.org
WANDA J. BURNETTE-WALKER – Repurpose Mosaic Artist
“Simply Passionate To Create” best describes Wanda’s love for creating one-of-a kind mosaic and fiber art pieces. After over 20 years as a video production editor and photographer, Wanda discovered her love for creating “functional art” (tables, mirrors, lazy susans, etc.). Being a part of the Repurpose Project has given Wanda the opportunity to share her love for recycling and to teach her unique style of art.
Contact Wanda: email@example.com
LYNN POLKE – Creative Enabler
Ever wanted to run away and join the circus? Lynn did. After graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA, Lynn mimed and danced her way through Europe then landed back in San Francisco where following her muse she became a clown, acrobat and choreographer for Make-A-Circus and sang punk rock on the side until she passed the Ringling Brothers audition. There she lived on a train, and worked and played with both humans and animals from around the world while learning to think on the fly and make do with what was available and would fit in a 6 x 11 stateroom with husband, daughter, cat and a dachshund.
Always willing to try something new she developed a hula hoop act, single trapeze act and worked an adagio elephant act the likes of which will never be seen again. Several commercials and the film Big Top Pee Wee in Hollywood led her back into the circus with husband and child in tow criss-crossing the U.S. more times than she can remember with performing jaunts to the Philippines, Japan, and Thailand in between.
Ever the student of life and art her adventures include touring with T-Pain, Justin Bieber and developing and presenting her act, “Madame Flambeau’s Flea Circus” at the Coney Island Sideshow Museum in Brooklyn NY.
From repurposing costumes from Earth, Wind, and Fire wardrobe for her hula hoop act and creating video sets using whatever struck her eye and was free, Lynn has always had a repurposing mindset. Madame Flambeau’s Flea Circus came to life as Lynn remade her grandmother’s old suitcase with bits and pieces gathered and cut, glued and sewn combined with second hand costume pieces, music and script.
As a volunteer at Repurpose Project, Lynn, kept showing up until she became the first employee. Perseverance has kept her going as Repurpose has grown and moved. Highlights include: clearing out and moving Central Florida Office Plus, putting together the Repurpose Project Runway Trashion Show, helping host Green Gift Fair and connecting with customers and community partners to redirect usable resources.
Lynn looks forward to the event space opening.
A sincere belief in the role performing arts play in the culture of world peace has led Lynn to mentor those drawn to the arts. “I’ve always wanted to be the person I wanted to find. Someone with experience willing to pass it on. That’s what I get to do here at Repurpose Project. I encourage others to find their muse and shine their light on the world leaving beauty in their wake and light on a path to peace.”
TOMMY BAKER –
Tommy is an artist and carpenter. He has lived in Gainesville for 10 years and is inspired by the creativity and activism of this community. Born in Miami, he went to Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH) and found his passion for painting and exploring the creative process. He pursued a secondary education in engineering and worked as an engineer before focusing on a career that allows him to pursue activism and the arts. The Repurpose Project was a perfect fit. Tommy started volunteering and participating at the Repurpose Project just a few months after its founding at the South Main location in 2012. He started working here full time in 2016. He plans to help further grow the Repurpose Project by developing its infrastructure and continuing its mission through his art and by being active with local environmental causes.
SOLOMAN SANDERS –
Soloman was born and raised in Fort Myers and moved to Gainesville for school 6 years ago. He graduated from Santa Fe with a degree in graphic design. While in school he developed a passion for drawing and became involved in the local art scene. He currently owns a local skateboard company called Hobby. Inspiration for the company comes from found imagery and everyday life.
Soloman started coming to The Repurpose Project as a customer looking for dated electronics and art supplies. He became interested in their mission and wanted to be involved. Somehow he managed to get a job here and now he can’t imagine a life without The Repurpose Project.
SKYE MCLEOD – Trash Princess
Skye is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Sustainability Studies. Her focus has been in waste management in not only the U.S., but in her mother’s country of Brazil where open-air landfills are still active. This has driven home the fact that environmental issues are also social issues.
Growing up in Orlando, she never lost her sense of magic and wonder, and her love for costumes and characters flourished. In an effort to inspire environmental education among both kids and adults, she and Sarah created the Trash Princess—a character based on a story Sarah tells her children—and an ongoing craft workshop series for kids where they can create with repurposed materials and learn about environmental issues.
PEYTON HUFF –
CHELSEA CARNES – Junk Curator
Chelsea was born right here in Gainesville, Florida at Alachua General (now a parking lot!) Her love for this town and its nature and culture is evidenced by her inability to pull herself away from it. She has worked as a community organizer putting together workshops, shows, benefits, festivals, and promoting and fundraising for local grassroots efforts ranging from human rights campaigns for the homeless to fighting legislation that discriminated against the LGBTQ population. She started a non-profit in 2013 that uses music and performance as a platform to encourage self-esteem in young girls, Gainesville Girls Rock Camp, and serves now as the camp’s Director and President of its board. She has received both the E.T. York Work of Heart Award and the KTK Woman of Inspiration Award for her community work. Chelsea has backpacked northern Europe, parts of South America, and toured much of North America performing as a singer and multi-instrumentalist with various bands. She’s watched humpback whales leap out of the water from a small boat off the coast of Ecuador and she’s hiked a mountain in the summer in Norther Sweden so close to the arctic circle that the sun did not set. 2015 was a big year for Chelsea, she graduated from the University of Florida summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and joined the staff team at Repurpose Project! Visit RP to find Chelsea waist-deep in Chiquita banana boxes discussing important issues such as the history and value of a chipped plate or the age and origin of a rusted nail.