Invasive plants to usable fiber
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Invasive plants to usable fiber.
Using unwanted invasive plants we can train community in traditional hand skills for new,local cottage industry textile production I mile diet urban cloth!
About Your Organization
the urban weaver project
Canada, BC, Vancouver
Country where this solution is creating social impact
Canada, BC, Vancouver
Region in BC where your solution creates social impact
Vancouver, Vancouver Island.
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Less than a year
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Idea (you're poised to launch)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two
Access, Quality, Equity.
The Need: Describe the need for your solution and the size and characteristics of the community(ies) your solution is engaging
Invasive plants are one of the largest threats to biodiversity that our planet faces. Communities and governments spend huge resources in removal and control attempts but by finding uses for invasive plants we shift the paradigm. With the invasive biomass being usable - not sent to incinerators - but up-cycled into locally made clothing, baskets and other useful and beautiful objects, we can create a new cycle. This process uses what is unwanted and readily available while teaching traditional hand skills to a community of makers and revitalizing core survival skills such as weaving, spinning and basketry. Urban centres can host small collectives of spinner/weaver groups making local cloth and objects from the greenwaste around them.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Scotch Broom shows promise as a spinnable fiber for cloth production based on initial research that follows traditional methods in Italy with Spanish broom. The labour intensive process requires many hands, but provides opportunity for communities to be formed around a common goal that breaks down social, cultural and generation barriers in the process. Currently, invasive plant removal is a linear path that ends in a pile of unwanted biomass. Using the plant to a different end creates a cycle that makes the plants part of the system in a positive way. They now have a purpose and funding going into invasive control has a second agenda by feeding a creative community of producers that are sharing discoveries in processing while training community members with traditional hand skills. Best case scenario: Our unwanted Scotch Broom becomes beautiful garments, harvested, processed and made by local hands.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include the primary activities involved in your solution.
Gathering Scotch Broom is linked in with highway removal efforts. Raw material is passively processed in vats for a few weeks then community celebrations are hosted for processing. Live music, food, public participation in "dancing the broom" removes the outer bark layer, exposing the fiber which is then washed, sorted, dried and carded for spinning and weaving. Community members assist in each step, learning a new skill and appreciation for how cloth is made. A worker cooperative model could be established for payment in spun fiber to key participators of all steps for personal art production.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others working to address the same needs as you and indicate what sets you apart from them.
No known local models would be competitors. Fiber produced would be high end in cost and due to intensive work time, small or one-of-a-kind objects could be produced. A new industry standard for local cloth production from unwanted invasives could be created where the harvesting of the plant is tied to the stewardship of the land.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
The Urban Weavers have been working with invasive plants; English ivy, Yellow flag iris and Himilayan blackberry for a while now, and one of our participants found a video online showing an Italian village processing and dancing on the Spanish broom. The mix of community, celebration, fiber processing and the possible connection of our invasive Scotch broom to the Spanish broom in plant characteristics led us to the "AHA! We HAVE to try that” moment! We have a wealth of knowledge and skill in artists, musicians, spinners, weavers, dyers in our neighbourhood. Certain plants around us are unwanted, yet may hold huge potential as we look at them with a different lens and have knowledge and skill sharing as a guiding principal.
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
creating a purpose for unwanted invasive plants, creating a new local industry for makers and teaching traditional skills to community members
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Our first harvest took about 1.5 meter cube of cut scotch broom and with many hands, songs and feet, spun roughly 150 meters of yarn that feels quite soft, is pretty strong and looks like a burlap/ hemp fiber. Participants from 10 years old to seniors assisted with the process. With our weaving we are developing a new relationship to the plants that grow around us, and a new respect for the products we buy- "Who made that dollar store basket? What did they possibly earn when it costs so little to buy?" A slow revolution in what we use, what we buy, and an understanding of where it comes from is in the making while people re-learn how to use their hands and talk to their neighbours.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
To increase the number of folks with skills to lead more weaving circles, empower individuals to make what they need themselves in their daily living, provide possible low-threshold jobs in fiber processing to individuals with employment barriers in urban centres and create meaningful participatory opportunities for makers in the community while reducing unwanted invasive plants that grow in both natural and disturbed landscapes.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Funding for processing equipment to maximize our time, need to be working with someone with a background in collective or cooperative models, familiar with the downtown eastside of Vancouver to build a business plan and develop a model for the enterprise.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
work is seasonally based, we will conduct research throughout the year to determine the best season for harvesting and process
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
continued seasonal research and development of processing steps
building the equipment needed for processing raw bast fibers
continued documentation and step by step process recording
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
find a mentor within the business community
develop a community based/ social profit business model
link in with BC road work initatives
Tell us about your partnerships
working closely with Vancouver Park Board and Stanley Park Ecology Society as ongoing partners. workshops are held with community partners: Atira Housing- Enterprising Women Making Art, Broadway Youth Resource Centre and various community centres in the DTES and eastside of Vancouver.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?
When we have our processing research finalized and best harvest time figured out I want to do island tours around the gulf islands and other BC locations where scotchbroom continues to be a major problem.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
inspirational, creative space that is community motivated and involved. A larger operation would need to provide for ongoing artists R&D and have small scale marketable objects made in a cooperative model for local tourist/ hand made markets
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
|42 weeks ago April Dutheil said: Great- can't wait to see the video!! about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|43 weeks ago Sharon Kallis said: thanks April- stay tuned we have a great video that I will be posting soon of the research phase so far- yes, would LOVE to be able to ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|43 weeks ago April Dutheil said: This could be a great initiative to bring to Haida Gwaii as well, I know there is a ton of work being done there to remove scotch broom ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|45 weeks ago Sharon Kallis updated this Competition Entry.|
|45 weeks ago Sharon Kallis updated this Competition Entry.|
|45 weeks ago Sharon Kallis submitted this idea.|