I am so excited to tell you guys all about my amazing friend Nancy. Seriously, I know this post might be a touch long, but stick with me through the end — it’s a great story.
Nancy and I worked at the Star Tribune for many, many years. She was a news copy editor, and we worked very closely when I designed the front page — working weekends, nights and holidays creates a special bond that the two of us share.
Back in those days (2003-2006ish), Nancy’s love of recycling… um… grew into quite the passion. You know that friend of yours that is so passionate about any given topic that they just will not shut up about it, but you love them so much that you continue to listen and smile and nod? Nancy is that friend. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.
When we worked at the paper, not only did she set up the recycling bins around the newsroom (and not just for office paper — for CDs from media kits and batteries and plastic and a variety of other options), but she also set up areas where you could bring in plastic bags or freezer boxes (that the city didn’t collect). She learned which locations around the metro would recycle these special items, and she set up “centers” in the newsroom to collect them. Then she recruited volunteers who lived near those areas to take the recycleables home on a regular basis and recycle them. Seriously. And she did all of this in her “free time.” For “fun.”
She also would shame coworkers by taking photos of their trashcans full of office paper and post them on the break room fridge. Or she’d take photos of trash cans full of aluminum cans that were RIGHT NEXT TO the aluminum can recycling bin and she would post them throughout the room. She was RUTHLESS.
But her heart was good, and she did change us. To this day, I cannot put anything in the trash without first pausing to consider if and where it can be recycled. There have even been cases where I can’t find a plastic recycling bin and I’ll toss my bottle into the trash, then stop and think of Nancy and go back to retrieve it and bring it home to recycle. Her guilt is THAT STRONG.
So! (Still with me? We’re almost to the good part!) A few years back, Nancy’s copy editing job at the Strib was eliminated (along with many others). We were all devastated with the loss, but this girl did the best thing she could do. She took that severance package and got an “internship” (that paid less than minimum wage, I think) with the county helping out with their recycling program. She knew her passion, and she wanted to make a career out of it. And she’s been there ever since.
In 2012, she worked with the county to start something called The Fix-It Clinic. That is what I was photographing today, and it was AH-MAZING. It’s a clinic put on by the county the second weekend of every month (sometimes a Saturday, sometimes a Sunday). You bring in any appliance or household item that is broken and you are thinking of throwing away, and there are volunteers there (electricians, tinkerers, seamstresses, etc etc etc) who will take apart your item and teach you how to fix it! For FREE. So you get your item back, you don’t have to pay to fix it, and the landfill has one less toaster in it. HOW RAD IS THIS?
Today it was packed, and I saw everything from antique irons, table fans, humidifiers, laptops, tape decks, CD players, turntables and even cuckoo clocks being fixed. And talk about bringing the community together! There was even a kid who had turned his cell phone to “Spanish mode” and couldn’t figure out how to get it back to English! And they fixed it!
Nancy has been featured in the newspaper and on the TV news several times to talk about her clinics, and you guys? I could not be prouder of my dear friend. Watching someone you love take their passion and turn it into a career is pure magic, I tell you.
If you live in Hennepin County, and you are interested in attending a clinic to fix a treasure of yours, here is the information. And if you don’t live in Minneapolis, you guys should work to get a program like this set up in your town. For real.
Oh! And the photo up there! That’s a woman who worked with a volunteer to fix a broken lamp, and that moment was when the light came back on. It was fantastic!
Oh, and it would be rude not to mention that Nancy is also the reason we have the wonderful Merlin in our lives. She, like me, has another passion and that is for Collies. She heard of a blue merle pup at a shelter down south and convinced me to go meet him on the day he was put up for adoption. She drove with us to meet him and has been his godmother ever since. And that boy loves her just as much as he loves me (I am pretty sure).