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NYer Of The Week: Harriet Taub Collects Donated Materials For School Art Education

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With so little space in the city, New Yorkers are left with the dilemma of what to do with their old or unwanted belongings. This week's New Yorker has an answer that is helping school groups and nonprofits get creative in Long Island City. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

Paint cans, fabric trimmings, electronics and twine. New York's trash is Harriet Taub's treasure.

"I was always someone who loved materials, was kind of like a dumpster diver, was always looking for things," Taub says.

Today, Harriet is looking to pass her passion for the environment on to New York’s next generation.

As the executive director of "Materials for the Arts", she's helped create a warehouse full of donated materials. School groups and nonprofits can reuse the materials for free.

"What we really want our students to learn is that everything doesn't need to go in the garbage, that the world, it's finite, and that we want to be good stewards of the environment," Taub says.

"If you don't reuse and recycle, the earth will be full of garbage, and we will have nowhere else to go," says Isyss Walker, a student at P.S. 279 in Brooklyn. "It's very fun, and you can make projects. And actually, today, we got to play with worms."

The program is run out of an expansive warehouse in Long Island City, Queens. Donations come from businesses and residents in need of more space. Already this year, more than 300,000 pounds of materials have come through the doors.

"In some other city, a business might say, 'Put that in the barn, Fred. We'll use it somewhere.' But that four square feet of space is worth a lot of money. People in New York City can't afford to keep things lying around if they don't know if they are going to use it or not."

"It's really, really important, with budget cuts and the lack of funds for classroom teachers, it's important for kids to know that they don't have to have expensive objects, things that their parents might not be able to afford, that are not accessible to them in order to create art," said Erica Giller, a teacher at P.S. 297.

So, for giving arts education a new lease on life, Harriet Taub is our New Yorker of the Week.

For More Information

For more information, go to mfta.org.

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