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Throw it “Away” – A De-Salvage Operation at Salvation Alley

by Andy Bosley


This March, Earthaven residents participated in a “Spring Cleaning” event, sorting through a ton of stuff (kept because someone once thought each item would someday be “useful)” and hauling much of it “away” in a trailer of metal and a couple of dumpsters of trash. Items from Salvation Alley, the Village Center, and many neighborhoods were gathered and the two mindsets—“Keep it, we’ll use it someday” and “That’s a piece of junk, toss it!”—got a chance to be debated in real time as we sorted through almost twenty years of built-up stuff. To our credit, much was already headed to a landfill and just took a detour here, some as early as a few years after the community began.

The storage barn on Salvation Lane was the first building built by the Earthaven Forestry Cooperative.

The intention of “Salvation Alley” isn’t to hold ritual evangelical healings, but to have a place where salvaged or excess materials from a building, plumbing, electrical, etc., project can be set aside until someone needs just that thing. As one who dabbles in a lot of projects around the community and our farm, I find it a useful resource overall.

But the reality is that the good stuff gets used and the junk stays around. It gets rained on, more dented, broken and smashed, and becomes if not useful for art projects, landfill. While we keep most carbon “waste” on site (stumps, brush, cardboard, all kinds of paper, natural fiber, etc.) where it can break down into soil, the plastics, metals and other materials humans create just don’t go away that quickly.

Sorting with a smile: “Prince” Otter and Spring Cleaning co-organizer Carleigh O’Donnell.

Paul likes to point out that having things “clean and pristine” is a pathology, and I too question the environmentalist who always wants to “clean it up.” However, if our storage area is not allowing us to find and use salvaged goods, we’re not doing any net good anyway.

The Spring Cleaning days were an all-out community effort that brought a lot of us together in a funky, fun way that could become something more regular as we grow and develop our neighborhoods and the Commons.


Andy Bosley runs Yellowroot Farm with his partner, Julie McMahan, and holds many roles around Earthaven including forestry, governance and men’s awareness work.

junk, landfill, salvaged, Salvation Alley, spring cleaning, storage barn

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