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After having worked at the Scrap Exchange for almost three weeks now, I can confidently say that I have learned a lot. But I’ve also realized that there is so much I have yet to learn!

For my first project, my supervisor giving me a list of twenty terms. She wanted me to research and write up a report on each term, so that I could get a better understanding of the terminology used around the Scrap Exchange that dealt with environmental sustainability and reuse. Though this assignment was initially dull, I found that I learned a lot about topics such as gentrification, sustainable development, grants, and LEED certification. I then took this research and converted it into a presentable form, making graphics and a presentation that is more easily digestible for a wider range of audiences.

For my second project, I was tasked with researching different types of funding. The Scrap Exchange ultimately wants to provide safe and inclusive community for those dealing with the harsh effects of gentrification, they require a lot of funding. As such, in the next few years, they hope to construct more community infrastructure, such as a basketball court, a skate park, and an affordable housing complex. They hope to add these facilities to their developing projects, such as their community garden, their thrift shop, and their newly-opened food pantry. All of these plans are expensive, however. So my partner and I are researching all of the different types of grants and foundations and funding sources that could potentially help support the development of this reuse arts district. Although it is tiring to have to sift through all of the thousands of foundations and grant sources out there, I know that this information will be very important to the Scrap Exchange as well as the Durham community.

My favorite part working at the Scrap Exchange is coming in the next week, where I will be able to spend a week just painting picnic tables to add to the new picnic area of the reuse arts district. Originally, my partner and I had only painted two, but my supervisor loved them so much that she ordered eight more tables for us to paint. The whole next week will consist of us just painting!

Working at the Scrap Exchange has taught me a lot of patience and humility. I have long work hours, but also get to meet and serve underprivileged people of the Durham community. During the school year, it is often easy to feel comfortable within the confines of Duke and its community. I hope to be able to come back to the Scrap Exchange long after this internship is over and to be able to witness the new developments to which I have had opportunity to contribute!

three people and picnic tables
Original picnic tables
three people behind a picnic bench
Finished picnic table