Key Ingredients of
Community Composting:
BK ROT
Guy Schaffer, BK ROT Board Member
Cultivating Community Compost Roundtable...
BK ROT is a bike-based, youth-powered
composting service based out of
Bushwick, Brooklyn.
We collect from households and
businesses.
We compost at a city-owned park space.
We sell or donate finished compost to
ga...
The project was founded in 2013 by Sandy
Nurse, and she has co-facilitated it with
Renee Peperone since then.
2013:
• 2 youth workers
• $675 in youth stipends
• 36 households
• 707 lbs/year
• Hosted by a local community center
2016:...
BK ROT works to introduce an
alternative set of values into the
design of organics recycling
systems in New York City:
• C...
I came to BK ROT in 2014 as a Ph.D. candidate
interested in local compost systems.
Informal infrastructures: those built outside
the realms of formal planning; the often
minimal resources, under-compensate...
What allows informal compost systems to
form, function, and create changes in the
waste system of New York City?
• City support for local compost:
• Grants for community
organizations.
• Land resources.
• Training for composting expert...
• Resources available through
social networks.
• Space for hosting compost.
• Fundraising networks.
• Volunteer labor.
• N...
• Design of workflow makes
composting into good work.
• Design of space makes
composting into public work.
• Nonprofit sta...
BK ROT is designed with the values of
good work in mind:
• Meaningful work
• Safe work
• Educational work
• Respected work...
Bikers pick up food scraps from
households and businesses, and
bring them back to KnowWaste
Lands for processing.
At KWL, workers chop up food
scraps, mix them with browns, and
add them to the four-bin system.
Frequently, customers stop by to
drop off food scraps; they either pay
a fee or chop the scraps themselves.
The youth workers turn the piles
once a week on Sunday workdays.
After three months, material from
the bins is added to the windrows
and covered with overs.
BK ROT uses a diversity of
composting methods:
• Tumblers
• Bins
• Windrows
• Worm bin
• Bokashi
Experimentation is built into the
system; tumblers serve as a space to
practice with new methods.
This allows us to accomm...
Sifting is mostly done by volunteers.
Overs are added back to pile or used
as windrow covering.
Youth are in charge of this
composting space; they regularly
have to direct and educate
volunteers and customers.
KnowWaste Lands has been designed
to nurture a specific idea of what waste
infrastructure can feel like.
• Open location.
...
“…the prettiest dump in town.”
-Brooklyn Paper
KWL is located at the corner of two
busy streets, under a subway station,
between two bus stops.
It is open on two sides, and is inviting as
a shortcut.
It is surrounded by commercial spaces:
a grocery store, pawn shop, pizza shop,
café, bodega, and bar are all within
view o...
Public art in the space was designed by
artists of color based on ideas
generated by long-term residents of
Bushwick.
The majority of KWL is devoted to
native plants.
The compost at KWL occupies a raised
central space, and the bins are both
functional and handsome.
The concrete pad puts the compost on
display and also provides a solid
platform for chopping, mixing, and
moving equipment.
The presence of youth workers,
volunteers, and coordinators makes the
space open and inviting whenever
people are working.
The BK ROT system makes compost
inviting to neighbors. It puts waste
management on display.
“We need to learn how to live with waste.”
-Sandy
In 2015, BK ROT was able to
register as a 501(c)3, as a training
organization.
This may not be the final evolution
of BK R...
Nonprofit status has enabled us
to:
• Participate in larger, municipal
grant programs.
• Insure our bikers.
• Participate ...
The process of filing has been
difficult; the shift from informal to
formal structure has required
work that is difficult ...
Intentional construction of community:
Who is the community?What do they
they want?What community builds it?
builds it?Wha...
Institutional support: municipal space
for composting, educational and
material resources, funding.
WHAT
COMMUNITY
COMPOST...
Support for organizers: more robust
funding systems that can allow the
important work of running green space
to be compens...
Contact me:
guy.schaffer@gmail.co
m
Or Sandy and Renee:
info@bkrot.org
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CCC Workshop - Part 1: Key Ingredients of Community Composting [Guy Schaffer, Bk ROT]

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Guy Schaffer of Bk ROT in New York City presented this at ILSR's Cultivating Community Composting workshop.

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CCC Workshop - Part 1: Key Ingredients of Community Composting [Guy Schaffer, Bk ROT]

  1. 1. Key Ingredients of Community Composting: BK ROT Guy Schaffer, BK ROT Board Member Cultivating Community Compost Roundtable January 23, 2017 / Los Angeles, CA
  2. 2. BK ROT is a bike-based, youth-powered composting service based out of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
  3. 3. We collect from households and businesses. We compost at a city-owned park space. We sell or donate finished compost to gardens and households.
  4. 4. The project was founded in 2013 by Sandy Nurse, and she has co-facilitated it with Renee Peperone since then.
  5. 5. 2013: • 2 youth workers • $675 in youth stipends • 36 households • 707 lbs/year • Hosted by a local community center 2016: • 7 youth workers • $15,837 in youth stipends • 80 households and 6 commercial accounts • 37,814 lbs/year • Managing its own garden
  6. 6. BK ROT works to introduce an alternative set of values into the design of organics recycling systems in New York City: • Creating good work that is safe, self- directed, and respected; and training youth of color for these jobs. • Building local resource cycles that are sustainable and benefit local residents. • Celebrating the labor that goes into waste management.
  7. 7. I came to BK ROT in 2014 as a Ph.D. candidate interested in local compost systems.
  8. 8. Informal infrastructures: those built outside the realms of formal planning; the often minimal resources, under-compensated are designed improvisationally.
  9. 9. What allows informal compost systems to form, function, and create changes in the waste system of New York City?
  10. 10. • City support for local compost: • Grants for community organizations. • Land resources. • Training for composting experts. • The creation of a market for compost.
  11. 11. • Resources available through social networks. • Space for hosting compost. • Fundraising networks. • Volunteer labor. • Nonprofit, small business, and corporate support. • The incredible commitment of coordinators.
  12. 12. • Design of workflow makes composting into good work. • Design of space makes composting into public work. • Nonprofit status offers stability, but also puts more pressure on unpaid staff. KEY INGREDIENTS OF BK ROT
  13. 13. BK ROT is designed with the values of good work in mind: • Meaningful work • Safe work • Educational work • Respected work • Positive, healthy work environments DESIGNING FOR WORK
  14. 14. Bikers pick up food scraps from households and businesses, and bring them back to KnowWaste Lands for processing.
  15. 15. At KWL, workers chop up food scraps, mix them with browns, and add them to the four-bin system.
  16. 16. Frequently, customers stop by to drop off food scraps; they either pay a fee or chop the scraps themselves.
  17. 17. The youth workers turn the piles once a week on Sunday workdays.
  18. 18. After three months, material from the bins is added to the windrows and covered with overs.
  19. 19. BK ROT uses a diversity of composting methods: • Tumblers • Bins • Windrows • Worm bin • Bokashi
  20. 20. Experimentation is built into the system; tumblers serve as a space to practice with new methods. This allows us to accommodate different kinds of involvement from different customers.
  21. 21. Sifting is mostly done by volunteers. Overs are added back to pile or used as windrow covering.
  22. 22. Youth are in charge of this composting space; they regularly have to direct and educate volunteers and customers.
  23. 23. KnowWaste Lands has been designed to nurture a specific idea of what waste infrastructure can feel like. • Open location. • Public art. • Attractive garden with central compost. • Youth and coordinators keeping space active. DESIGNING FOR SPACE
  24. 24. “…the prettiest dump in town.” -Brooklyn Paper
  25. 25. KWL is located at the corner of two busy streets, under a subway station, between two bus stops.
  26. 26. It is open on two sides, and is inviting as a shortcut.
  27. 27. It is surrounded by commercial spaces: a grocery store, pawn shop, pizza shop, café, bodega, and bar are all within view of the space.
  28. 28. Public art in the space was designed by artists of color based on ideas generated by long-term residents of Bushwick.
  29. 29. The majority of KWL is devoted to native plants.
  30. 30. The compost at KWL occupies a raised central space, and the bins are both functional and handsome.
  31. 31. The concrete pad puts the compost on display and also provides a solid platform for chopping, mixing, and moving equipment.
  32. 32. The presence of youth workers, volunteers, and coordinators makes the space open and inviting whenever people are working.
  33. 33. The BK ROT system makes compost inviting to neighbors. It puts waste management on display.
  34. 34. “We need to learn how to live with waste.” -Sandy
  35. 35. In 2015, BK ROT was able to register as a 501(c)3, as a training organization. This may not be the final evolution of BK ROT, but it has been helpful in some ways. NONPROFIT STATUS
  36. 36. Nonprofit status has enabled us to: • Participate in larger, municipal grant programs. • Insure our bikers. • Participate in the BIC composting pilot.
  37. 37. The process of filing has been difficult; the shift from informal to formal structure has required work that is difficult for our minimal organizational staff.
  38. 38. Intentional construction of community: Who is the community?What do they they want?What community builds it? builds it?What community uses it? it? WHAT COMMUNITY COMPOST NEEDS
  39. 39. Institutional support: municipal space for composting, educational and material resources, funding. WHAT COMMUNITY COMPOST NEEDS
  40. 40. Support for organizers: more robust funding systems that can allow the important work of running green space to be compensated, regardless of organizational structure. WHAT COMMUNITY COMPOST NEEDS
  41. 41. Contact me: guy.schaffer@gmail.co m Or Sandy and Renee: info@bkrot.org

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