Local changemakers part 2
By Brett Marlo DeSantis January 2019
Call them what you’d like: changemakers, system-buckers, truth seekers, or simply those who walk-the-talk.
Acccording to William Dayton, founder of Ashoka:
The job of the pattern-change social entrepreneur is to recognize whenever a part of society is stuck in an inefficient or harmful pattern, to conceive a better and safe alternative, to make that vision realistic…and then to persuade his or her entire society to make the leap to this new way.
In part 1, we met four local changemakers: Jason Sobottka, Professor/Artist/Tacoma Gallery Co-owner, Vito DeSantis,PGA Golfer/Founder of Grips fore Good SPC, Becca Clark, Urban Farmer/Honey’s Healthy Hive, and Rick Gagliano, Founder at Pin Foundations Inc.
We learned about what sparked their passion for attempting change in their industries: the arts, sports, agriculture and building. Now let’s discover how their stories are evolving.
Q&A Explain your journey. What’s next?
Jason- We secured a studio space working with the Spaceworks program. We named it Tacoma Gallery and opened in April 2018. Our plan is to continue to work as artists, teach others and promote emerging and mid-career artists. Our motto is “continuous improvement over perfection” meaning that we wanted to jump in and grow. We are curating a show of local artists that will run through February 28, 2019. In spring, we hope for an exhibition of women artists.
Vito- Within six months of creating the first grip collection box, Grips Fore Good began. We collected grips at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay, which gave me the confidence to know that people believed in the idea and started to get behind it. In the Puget Sound area, grip collection approximates 400-600 pounds/week. Current upcycled products include wet pours, various mats and rubber flooring. Our latest project was the Tacoma Rainiers’ dugout.
Becca- What started as a personal garden with mason bees grew to Honey’s Healthy Hive. After learning more about those native pollinators we added honeybees to our yard, and also took time to learn about other pollinators. After constant mentions of “I’d love a beehive and to help the cause but haven’t the time to care for them properly,” we developed a pollination program; placing hives, nests and boxes into different yards around the community maintained by my husband, Mario, and I. We received over a hundred interested parties our first year.
Rick- 2019 will be my 35th year doing this now, since I put my first pin pile system in the ground. For many, many years, we tested variations of micro-pilings and head-styles, many of which did not make it into the market. However for twenty years now, we’ve actually created and tested this foundation system. It’s basically a leap forward.
Q&A What’s your final goal?
Jason- Something new to emerge, like an arts center that places a priority on showcasing local talent in a museum-like setting. We would like to be a part of that movement and community.
Vito- One hundred percent diversion of rubber at tour events, continue national grip collection and to have regional manufacturing near regional grip collection sites.
Becca- To double our program, place hives at downtown businesses, speak at schools, place habitats at community gardens with educational boards; explaining how pollinators function, how we benefit, what hurts them and how we can help to end the decline of pollinators in our area, and ultimately getting communities to become pollinator communities.
Rick- To get certifications for nationwide codes in the International Building Code.
Q: What can others do to help this change/innovation move forward?
Jason- Buy art. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be authentic and hopefully local. Go to art galleries, museums, live performances and events. Learn more about making art yourself or the cultural significance of art. Show your art!
Vito- When consumers buy a product, the ball is in their court to recycle it. You can just ask when you go to get your golf grips replaced…”what are you going to do with my used grips…throw them in the garbage or recycle them or repurpose them?”
Becca- Big to little changes help. Stop using chemicals known to harm the environment: most pesticides, fungicides and weed killers. Use native plants: Fruit trees, herbs, and flowering ground cover.
Rick- The more people who see it and want to be involved, the better chance of change.
These emergent leaders introduce us to new ways of thinking, doing, or being.
“Everyone has changemaking in their DNA; it’s just a matter of unlocking it.” -George Roter, Engineers Without Borders