The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB) is an artist-run, renovated recreational vehicle that exists as a flexible space open to community members’ proposals for alternative educational and cultural programming.

MLAB is the collaborative effort of the 2007-2008 Social Sculpture class at Syracuse University, comprised of 10 art and architecture students and lead by artist and Director of Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts of Syracuse University, Marion Wilson. Our mission was to transform a used, 1984 Recreational Vehicle Bus into a Mobile Literacy and Arts Bus for use by the Syracuse City School District and the greater Syracuse Community. MLAB serves as a physical manifestation of Syracuse University’s Scholarship in Action initiative, by pairing University resources with community needs in an attempt to address the staggering drop out rates in the Syracuse City School District High Schools. Through the School of Education at Syracuse University, incredible curricula that bridge photography, poetry and literacy currently exist within the public schools-- however due to a crisis of space, the schools don't always have the space or resources to house it. MLAB is this space. The bus serves as a mobile classroom, digital photo lab, gallery space, and community center. As a team, we did it all: demolition, design, and construction.

MLAB is made possible from the generous support of the School of Education at Syracuse University and Entitiative.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On the Quest for Reclaimed Materials

Given the interest our team has had in the potential for using reclaimed materials in our construction, I took the liberty to make some calls around campus to get information on how to find this stuff. I know it's possible-- my landlord floored my house in old SU gym flooring!

So I got to calling. I began with Physical Plant, who referred me to Recreational Services and Excess Property. From there, I was referred back to everyone I'd just talked to, and then was put into contact with Design and Construction. At Design and Construction, I spoke with Mary Kendrat who suggested I put everything in an email and send it to a Ms. Carol Melendez (who was in a meeting), the secretary/administrative assistant to the Director of Design and Construction. So I did this. According to Ms. Kendrat, Ms. Melendez would get the email to the right people to help us find what we needed. We're just waiting on her response.

Here's the mail:
Dear Ms. Melendez,

Hello, my name is Jessica Posner. I am a senior Sculpture and
Television, Radio and Film major at Syracuse University, and I'm
emailing to enquire about acquiring reclaimed materials for a
community project that I'm currently a part of. Mary Kendrat gave
me your email address, saying you where the exact woman to get in
touch with as you know the avenues of information and would be able
to connect me with the information and people I need.

First, I'll tell you about our project:

As part of a Social Sculpture course through the College of Visual
and Performing Arts, a combined class of Architecture and Art
students are currently working to transform a used 30' RV into a
Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (M-Lab) for use by the Syracuse City School
District and the greater Syracuse Community. Thus far, we have a
acquired and gutted the RV. We are currently in the design stage, but
will very shortly begin with our construction. As a team, we are very
interested in Green design and construction, and would very much like
to use reclaimed materials in the construction of furniture and
interior for the bus. We are particularly interested in wood-- like
old gym flooring-- but would be interested in hearing more on any
other materials to which you have access/information. This interior
will serve as classroom, digital lab, community space, and gallery.
As a team, we think it is very important to work in an
environmentally conscious and responsible way-- which is why I've
contacted you about finding and acquiring reclaimed materials.
Furthermore, in using reclaimed materials from the University, we
believe that we will be contributing to the legacy and relationship
of SU out into the Syracuse Community-- which is where and whom our
project will be serving.

Furthermore, we are on a tight budget and tight time frame, so any
help you could offer would be much appreciated.

If you could please help provide me with information as to who to
contact or how to find and acquire reclaimed materials for use by my
team in our efforts to transform an old RV into an exciting Mobile
Literacy and Arts Bus, we would very much appreciate it.

Please contact me with any questions, concerns, or information. Also,
visit our blog at to see
our team in action.

Thank you,

Jessica Posner

If anyone else has any sort of leads on acquiring stuff, let's get on it!
Found some free barnwood on craigslist in Hannibal, NY id we're interested...
Also, some other interesting stuff for sale on craiglslist under "materials."


M-Lab said...

The Syracuse City School District may be doing some renovation and construction. The person you would want to call is Nick DiBello who is the head of Facilities at 4354292. He knows about the RV (remind him about it) and tell him what you are looking for. It would be a great way for them to participate. The other person to ask would be Carole Terry also in SCSD (again remind her of the Partnership and the class and you can use my name) and ask her for leads of who to contact. Don't wait too long for them to call you back - follow up. Good work.

Jexcesso said...

Thanks, Marion. I'll make these calls tomorrow morning.


Jexcesso said...

update on the quest:

I called to follow up with Carol Melendes, and she forwarded the message to the Assistant Manager that's in charge of this stuff. She said he's been out in meetings for the past couple of days, but said to keep calling back and she'd give me more information (if there is any) when she gets it.

I called SCSD, and Nick DiBello was out at a meeting (and is pretty busy all day), so I left a message expalining what we were looking for and will call him back again before class.