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Nonprofit Spare Parts recycles for the sake of art 

Mary Cantu's fledgling nonprofit, Spare Parts, is poised to take flight. You know what I say...'behind every nonprofit are people with a passion for helping others.' Cantu is a smart, talented young woman with a passion for art, education, environment, and collaboration. Those four elements are the definition of Spare Parts. Connect with various agencies/businesses & provide a steady supply of materials (otherwise thrown away) for the artistic community & educators. But, I like the shorter version "Trash is the failure of imagination." Cantu is San Antonio born and bred. She graduated from Brackenridge High School and attended the all-girls college, Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, earning a degree in elementary education. This afforded her a introduction to the culture of teaching and a glimpse into the world of teacher needs. "Budget cuts in education always hit the arts hard," said Cantu. "I decided this was the area of need in which I wanted to focus." So, how did that all lead to trash? Realizing our throw-away society holds many hidden resources, and just about anything can have a second life, Cantu began a quest to make reuse the theme of her own unique brand of art supplies. In the past year, Spare Parts held several community fairs, collection events, and collaborative art supply round-ups. Evidenced by Cantu's recent "Friend of Art" award from the N.E.I.S.D. many of these material collections have been shared with teachers around the City.

click to enlarge teacher-at-spare-partsjpg
A few weeks ago, the Blue Star "Stuff the Bus" event gathered an panoply of materials like old picture frames, tiles, instruments, baubles and beads... These materials were used at various school-sponsored family days by Supporting Multiple Arts Resources Together (S.M.A.R.T.) a nonprofit which develops diverse art educational outreach programs. Cantu also collaborated with Henry Ford Academy on a spare-parts camp and materials give-away day. All this to energize the creative community in San Antonio.

So, what's next and how can you help? Spare Parts will have a creative reuse activity booth at The Best of the West Fiesta Event at OLLU on April 21 from 1:00-5pm. There will be a Spare Parts meeting to discuss the possibility of more materials drives on Saturday, April 28 at 12:30 pm at Forest Hills Library - 5245 Ingram Road, 78228. Everyone is welcome. On May 5, S.M.A.R.T. presents: "Pie to the People 2" Art & Education event emphasizing RE-USE from 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm at La Villita. If you are a business or corporation, or just someone with materials for reuse, contact Cantu through the Spare Parts website. I also dub Cantu one of the queens of social media as she excellently uses Twitter, Facebook, Flicker, YouTube, Pinterest and more. I'm looking forward to an art show of recycled trash art pieces for purchase. Could that be in the future, Mary?   San Antonio activist and nonprofit veteran Laura Carter believes in enabling the community to work from the heart, not just the wallet. During her time at the San Antonio Area Foundation, Laura implemented new technology, managing website design and content for all published materials. She introduced multimedia and social media into the communications plan, increasing the community's participation in the Foundation's programs. She is now Communications Director at Providence Catholic School.            

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January 12, 2022

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