Friday, November 25, 2011

Educate, Empower and Inspire

We have recently embarked on a new venture in our efforts to rebuild the inner city of North St. Louis. We have launched a neighborhood newspaper called the 3rd Ward STL. This newspaper will bring information to the community that is targeted to our community. It will be a medium of communicating all the positive things going on in and around the neighborhood.

So why did we name it the 3rd Ward STL? It may sound like a political paper but it is not. As a Non-Profit 501(c)3 we cannot take part in political promotion. The reason we chose the name and the service area is simple. The political ward boundaries in the city of St. Louis are a huge determining factor in how things get done in our city. From the influence of the Alderman to the distribution of certain types of government funding, all are determined by ward boundaries.

One thing this means for us is that we are preparing to expand our service and target area. The majority of the 3rd Ward was in our original target zone. We now have 9 missionaries living in Hyde Park. We have one property and another coming soon. Once the Leadership Center is operational along with the Opportunity Center we will be ready to accelerate our work.

This new newspaper will help us to communicate the change that is happening. It will also help us to promote new businesses that launch in our incubator. Please take a minute and visit the online version of this newsletter. Click Here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hyde Park Festival Recap

The Hyde Park Festival, which took place on September 10 and 11, was a success. It certainly was a challenge. We had some bumpy months leading up to the festival, with things changing pretty frequently. We had bands cancel last minute, and volunteers fail to show up. But we managed to fill all the gaps.

The games that Jake's on Main (from St. Charles, MO) loaned us were a huge hit. The kids packed them all day both days. The face painting also had a long line throughout the festival. We also raffled off Life is Good t-shirts every hour of the festival.

Tim and Christy Sawyer, potters from St. Charles, set up a spinning wheel and taught kids how to throw pottery. A local artist painted a watercolor in the park on Sunday.

The police flew their helicopter in and hung out for a while, describing the different parts of the helicopter to the kids. The fire department pulled the truck out and let kids climb around. Our historic walking tour took about 5 groups to different historic sites in the neighborhood, including the Bremen Theater.

A few stomp groups opened the festival, and Andre Williams closed Saturday's entertainment with a 2 hour long jazz/soul set. Our own band of missionaries, Reformation Sound, performed on Sunday. There were several local rap groups, a rock band, and a group of 3 young girls who performed some impressive tap dancing.

We are already planning for next year. It will be Saturday, September 8. We are getting entertainment lined up. We hope to have more vendors, more promotion, and hopefully more help. If you'd like to get involved, let us know! Contact our executive director, Dr. Terry Goodwin, at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pallets and Pews

We enjoy taking custom orders in the Opportunity Center woodshop. It gives us a chance to try new things and expand our skill sets, which means we can make better and varied products, and we have more skills to teach. All of our missionaries who work in the woodshop were amateurs, so we've been learning as we go. We try to fund most of our operation with the products we can make with our hands, so improving the quality and variety of our products allows us to become more sustainable.

Our biggest indoor custom order came from Alderman French of the 21st ward, which is our neighboring ward to the north. The ward has purchased an old church building, and is in the process of turning it into a community center, that will also include offices and meeting spaces. Since it was a church, it was full of old oak pews. Alderman French asked us if we could turn the old pews into a conference table. Of course, we said yes.

The project took an exceptionally long time, as the Opportunity Center was very busy from Spring through Summer, and we made the table for free. When we finally got down to it, we discovered that the backs of the pews, which were nice and wide, were bent plywood, so they would not make good table tops. The seats, although upholstered, were solid oak. So we disassembled the pews, cut the seats to a width that would fit into our planer, and planed them down so they would be nice and flat. We ended up gluing five seats together, to make a 5 ft. by 8 ft. table top.

We originally thought we could use the carved oak ends of the pews for feet, but found it to be a huge problem logistically. So we ended up building a supporting frame out of the recycled pallet wood.

Attaching table tops to their frames is a delicate business, as wood swells and shrinks with changes in humidity. Furniture makers have discovered a variety of ways to compensate. We, however, were unaware of all that. So we got decorative bolts and bolted the table top onto the frame. It gave the table a slight industrial feel, which we felt worked, as it was all recycled material.

We stained the whole table a nice dark brown, and sealed it with polyurethane. The table top was exceptionally beautiful, as it was furniture grade oak. A lot of the wood from the pallets looks great, but to get free furniture grade lumber (although it cost some processing time) is a sustainable way to make more traditional looking furniture.

The Alderman loved his table, and we enjoyed the opportunity to make something unique and learn a bit as we did. This coming winter, we are going to try to develop more indoor products. If you have ideas of wood products that you think would be desirable made from recycled wood, and some price ranges, you can contact our executive director, Dr. Terry Goodwin, at, or leave a note on our Facebook page.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recycled Pallet Furniture Continues

A big part of our operation is the Opportunity Center Woodshop. Our missionaries work with their hands building furniture and other wood products, and this is largely how we make a living and support the ministry. Donations of money and materials are always welcome, but building and selling products not only helps our ministry be sustainable, it also provides a huge connecting point, as well as a training environment and sets the stage for multiplying economic opportunities in hurting areas.

Starting in February of this year, we've been receiving an average of 35 hardwood pallets a week from a local tool and die factory. We have been disassembling them, planing the wood, and making sturdy outdoor furniture, like our popular deck chairs. We also made the furniture for La Mancha Cafe in the Old North neighborhood. We were all surprised and pleased with how well the recycled pallet material translated into indoor furniture.

A woman asked us to build four custom dining room chairs for her, and wanted arms on them (something we'd never done) and wanted a light colored stain, and they would have to finished in polyurethane (something else we had never done). This project supplied a perfect opportunity for us to increase our skills in product design and wood finishing. This is the first product we've made with a light colored translucent stain that would really highlight the character of the recycled wood.

We came up with a unique design that allowed us to build a traditional looking armed chair, but without complicated joinery which would have required machinery and know-how we don't possess. The chairs are very sturdy, incredibly heavy, and fit her dining room perfectly. Because the chairs were finished in a light stain, and the pallets are made from an assortment of hardwoods, we matched up like -kind and complimentary woods, so each chair is a unique work.

Our next project is a conference table made from recycled church pews and recycled pallets.

If you would like to volunteer in the woodshop, donate tools or materials, or learn more about our products, you can check out our facebook page or contact Jason at 314-437-3861.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hyde Park Festival

The task ahead of us is huge. We are seeking to reclaim and restore the inner cities of America for the glory of God. Luckily, He does most of the work. But having this vision leads us to many places, and gets us involved in a variety of activities. We hope to pastor the community, and there are innumerable ways to do that.

How about organizing a festival? It was never on our radar. But we go forward with a heart to serve, and this is the stuff that is laid before us. The Alderman of our ward has been putting on the Hyde Park Festival for many years, and it has had its ups and downs. Last year we participated in the festival. We had an informational booth, our missionaries played music, and we all helped with the labor. This year, as we have sought to work with various organizations in the area, we found ourselves meeting with the Alderman, discussing the festival. The idea was brought up to allow the non-profit organizations in the area work together in order to organize and carry out the festival. The Alderman agreed and our executive director, Dr. Terry Goodwin was voted as chairman of the festival.

So we have been organizing the Hyde Park Festival for a few months, with the help of other organizations and individuals in the neighborhood, including Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and ND Consulting. It will take place September 10 and 11, in Hyde Park. We have the theme of “Historic Past, Dynamic Present, Bright Future”, because we know that the history of our neighborhood is powerful, and it's something no one can take away. Our present is full of newer organizations, century old churches, long-time residents, those passing through, broken buildings, new developments, kids, families, firemen, police officers, schools, et cetera. There are ups and downs in any given day. And we are optimistic about the future, especially those of us at Sun Ministries, who are motivated by the love of Christ to serve this community.

This year we will again be doing a lot of labor. Our band of missionaries, Reformation Sound, will be playing music. We will display our Products with Purpose, and have a booth explaining our Opportunity Garden program. There will be live entertainment both days of the festival, including jazz, stomp exhibitions, rap, folk, r&b, dance. There will be artists, a kids' zone, health screenings, food vendors, a flea market, historic walking tours, and more.

We hope the festival will be a tool to move this neighborhood forward: to get the organizations working together, to bring in people from outside the area so they can see the struggle and progress being made in this historic community, to let the residents celebrate their neighborhood, and to promote the businesses, crafters, and service providers of the area.

If you are interested in being a vendor, or volunteering at the festival, contact Dr. Terry Goodwin at 636-544-2151 or You can also visit, or find Hyde Park Festival on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marine Week

The Marines were in town! Hundreds of Marines came to St. Louis to take part in community service projects and perform various exhibitions throughout the city. A group of them were assigned to help with Gateway Greening gardens, and Gateway Greening sent them to us. This is our first year gardening, and we've taken on three defunct community gardens, so the work load this year was massive. Before the Marines came, we still had one garden unplanted.

Ten Marines landed in Hyde Park on Monday, June 20. They laid mulch around our beds at the garden on Newhouse. They cleared the fence lines, trimmed trees, helped assemble a support for our monstrous tomato plants, and mowed the lot. In the midst of the action, a group of kids that live a block over stopped by to see what was happening. They met the Marines and helped us plant some cabbage and lettuce.

From there we went to the Clay School Opportunity Garden. This one has caused us the most trouble. It was in the worse shape and had many delays, including late compost delivery, uncooperative weather, and a massively busy schedule. We cleared the beds of weeds (for the fifth time) and planted mostly cucurbits and peppers.

You can read here about the Marines' view of what they did this week.

The plants in the other two gardens are growing very well. We've harvested greens numerous times, had a huge crop of lettuce, picked some sugar snap peas, and taste tested our first two ripe cherry tomatoes. They had huge flavor. Our flowers are blooming, and the herbs have finally stabilized.

This week, we also installed a 12x16 foot pergola at the Boyle-Laclede Community Garden, made entirely of recycled pallet wood. This was our biggest wood project to date, containing over 280 wooden parts and 1260 exterior screws, and it went fairly painlessly.

If you would like to help us in the gardens, or in any other part of our ministry, contact Jason at, or fill out the volunteer form. You can also stay up to date by checking our Facebook and signing up to receive our monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sun Roast Coffee Launches!

We are ready to embark on the next phase of the Isaiah 61 Initiative. Since the inception of the vision we have known that we would need a public place to display products from the Opportunity Center. This space would act as a retail incubator for those we work to empower.

A retail incubator would be a difficult concept to have as a stand alone that would produce enough revenue to sustain itself. Our concept from the beginning has been to combine the retail incubator with a cafe. The cafe would serve coffee, ice cream and full meals. The revenue from the cafe would help offset the cost of the retail space. It would also give us a commercial kitchen to provide opportunity and training to the community.

Once in place, this space would unlock potential in the community unlike any other endevour we have seen. It will allow us to train residents, help them design and produce a product, and give them exposure to their product. When this space is combined with the power of the existing Opportunity Center facilities we believe there will be an unleashing of new income opportunities in our impoverished area.

We know we have a big project ahead of us. Our missionaries are already in place to run the operation. We have ServeSafe® Certified staff, an experienced barrista, several with kitchen and deli experience, and years of business management experience. What we need to do next is raise the money to start the project.

We feel that every great coffee shop must start with great coffee. So starting today we offer you Sun Roast Coffee and we begin with Hyde Park Blend. The proceeds from the coffee sales will help us establish the Sun Cafe & Market. We plan to open in late spring of 2012. Our location has not been set so we don't have a full cost of the project yet. We plan to finance the start up through donations, product sales, and grants. You can help us by purchasing rpoducts or making donations.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Open House

Yesterday we celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of the Opportunity Center. As I prepared for the day I got the chance to reflect on what has happened in the last year. It was a great time for our missionaries to reflect as well. God has brought us a long way in a short time.

We walked people through the wood shop, the sewing center, and the opportunity garden across the street. We talked about the other two gardens we manage in the area. We toured the Bremen Theater with a group. We showed them the houses we had boarded up. We showed off our products, over 20 items in our product offering. We introduced people to our 12 missionaries. We displayed 3 new business start-ups that are incubating in the Opportunity Center. We introduced people to Roger and Barbara who entered through the work re-entry training program and are now developing their own product to make and sell. We hung up pictures of what the place looked like before.

Most importantly we impressed upon our visitors and our own minds that none of this was a part of our work just one year ago. When we see all that has been done in one year and the meager resources that it has been accomplished with, we know that we cannot take credit for it all. God has granted us the privilege of participating in His work. We look forward to seeing what next year will unfold. And we are most thankful for all of you. The people that we have had the opportunity to meet are the greatest opportunity the Opportunity Center has granted us so far.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I-55 Games Launches Their First Game

What an exciting time for the Opportunity Center and I-55 Games. The new non-profit that is being incubated through the Opportunity Center is launching their first game. The game will be made almost entirely from repurposed materials and almost entirely through the woodshop and sewing center of the Opportunity Center.

Here is how I-55 Games describes themselves.

"We offer creative job skills training to the disadvantaged through daily operation as a board and card game publisher. Employees are hired and trained in the basic skills of the workplace. (timliness, effort, thourough followthrough, ect.) We then mentor and develop each employee's individual passions and talents, with the aim of either releasing them into the workplace as skilled workers or enabling them to start their own venture that is in line with the core values of I-55 Games. I-55 Games is dedicated to the idea that the workplace profits when the people are fulfilled. We strive to make our daily tasks and works of creativity a family affair. We believe that creativity is an act accomplished with God. We believe that education is free whether people charge for it or not. The only barrier is how much a person loves to learn. We believe that games should not only be fun, but enrich relationships with family and peers, and engage the mind, perking the curiosity of the individual to strive and learn more about our world."

Here is a glimpse of the game as I have seen it.

The name of the game is Fair Trade - A game of competitive coffee cartels.

The game is played on a board made from repurposed coffee bags. The hand stained playing cubes and huts are made from scrap wood from our woodshop. The concept of the game is to follow the principles of Fair Trade to buy and sell coffee. The game is a learning game as well as entertaining. The game employs a unique mechanism that creates a very real supply and demand feature to the game.

Go to the I-55 Games Facebook to learn more and see the prototype.

I-55 Games Facebook

Would you like to see this new venture get off the ground? You can help by pre-ordering a copy of the game for yourself. The game will initially sell for $30.00 and $5.00 will secure your pre-order in the first run later this month.

Do you like the idea but you are not much of a game player? You can still help by sending a tax deductible donation to Sun Ministries 234 Christina Marie Dr. O'Fallon, MO. 63368 with I-55 in the memo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Business is Essential to Restoration

One of the goals of the Opportunity Center is to help people start businesses that will locate in the Hyde Park area and employ the local residents. We have officially begun the process of small business incubation with two new businesses.

The first business is a Non-profit game design company. This game company will launch its first game design this month. The game will be made from nearly 100% repurposed materials and be made completely in the Opportunity Center. The game theme centers around trading coffee. It will come with a game board made from repurposed coffee bags. It will be available for pre-order at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival.

The second business will try to become a certified minority business. New City Design will offer custom design elements and event items. Many of the items made through New City Design will come from the Opportunity Center and thereby assist us in building the job training programs we have started.

For more information on these projects you can visit our Facebook page and then follow the link to their pages.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gardening in the snow

A group of students from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota decided to spend their spring break in St. Louis and volunteer with Gateway Greening. Gateway Greening sent them to us for March 14 and 15. Our gardens have tons of work to be done, so we certainly appreciated the help. However, no one was planning on a late winter snow storm for our first garden work day. We watched the forecast go from bad to worse, and eventually watched about two inches of wet snow fall on our weedy gardens. But the Macalester Crew showed up for work anyway, so we all went out and gardened in the snow in the middle of North St. Louis.
Our first youth garden employee was also present, working towards his laptop. Everyone ended up having a great time, and afterward we took them on a tour of the neighborhood, and tried to communicate the idea of pastoring the community. The Macalester group asked a lot of really good questions.

The next day, we went to the Clay School garden, which is completely full of crab grass. Tuesday was a little windier, and the garden was very muddy. But we all worked hard again, and made great headway. Our youth employee's little brother came, and kept the college kids entertained. This garden had a lot of small trees growing in it, and we all celebrated whenever one was dug up. We wrapped up our time having some good conversations back at the Opportunity Center.

Thanks so much to the group from Macalester College, for spending their spring break serving a community miles away, and coming and working hard with us in the snow and mud! And thanks to Gateway Greening for helping us accomplish our goals! And thanks to God for supplying us laborers!

We still have a lot work ahead of us for the gardens, including weeding, tilling, filling beds with compost, mulching, repairing, and of course, PLANTING!!! If you or your group are interested in helping, let Jason know:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Urban Gardening

We've started gardening!!!


Because we look at the community as a whole, and try to minister on all levels. We call this pastoring the community. We try to come along side people and minister to every need.

So, this year we are taking on three gardens that have not been producing, and don't have the manpower to manage. One at Clay Elementary School, one at Most Holy Trinity Church and Academy, and one that was managed by the Friedens Neighborhood Foundation, which is directly across the street from the Opportunity Center. Two of the gardens are in very bad shape, and will certainly be an adventure to restore. Gateway Greening has helped us make these connections, and provided the free Growing Gardeners class which two of our missionaries attended. They also provide us with free seedlings, seeds, compost, and mulch.

We hope to sell the produce from the gardens. The money used from the sale of the produce will help us employ youth in the area under an agricultural work permit. The money will also help us fund the gardening project that is truly on our hearts, and that is to come along side individuals and families, help them to get a garden lease on a city-owned lot, and teach them about gardening from planning to table, and perhaps to market. This beautifies the neighborhood, helps them get fresh, healthy food, and could help them get additional income. Bethlehem Lutheran is starting a charter school and wants to buy our produce. A few other entities have also expressed interest.

We are very excited about this venture, as God has already used it to unite groups in the community. It is resurrecting what was dead and neglected, and provides an educational space for schools and for us.

If you are interested in coming out into the garden with us, you can contact Jason at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Board Up Hyde Park

Sun Ministries is working with Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr. to board up city-owned vacant properties in Hyde Park. The city cannot afford to board them all up, as there are several hundreds just in this neighborhood. We try to work with other groups, get them to adopt a house, raise funds for materials, and decorate the boards with positive words and images, and we go and install them. Doing this protects the properties from break ins and the elements, preserves them until they can be rehabbed, and shows the community that somebody cares. It takes a property that looked dead and abandoned, and gives it some life and presence, and shows that things are changing.

The 7th grade class of St. John Neumann Catholic School in Maryville, IL adopted 1923 Bremen. This house borders the actual park, and is part of the historic Bremen Theater, that has been abandoned for some time. We are working with groups to revitalize it.

They did a great job, and the pictures speak for themselves. If you know of a group interested in a board up, you can download this flyer, or email Jason at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recycled Pallets

At the Opportunity Center, in addition to a sewing center, we have a wood shop. We've been making mahogany and pine deck chairs for about a year. We've also made a couple custom wood items, and experimented with some others. The wood shop offers a great place for missionaries, volunteers, and those to whom we minister to work with their hands, use creativity, and develop basic measuring, assembling, and safety skills. And we all really enjoy it.

We have now found a source for free wood. Thiel Tool and Engineering Company has started donating us their hardwood pallets. And they are conveniently located just under a mile from us. The pallets are mostly oak, with some assorted hardwoods, and some yellow pine. Once we sand the wood, it is very pretty and sturdy.

We have started making garden benches, picnic tables, and compost bins. Pallets are a huge waste problem for businesses (much like coffee bags); they have to pay for them to be removed, and they pile up in landfills. We are turning them into furniture, allowing a setting to teach various job skills.

If you are interested in sprucing up your yard or garden with handsome, recycled products, you can email Jason at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Praise God!!!

This year has started full force and progressed quickly, as God continues to provide for and guide this work. So, deep breath everybody; here’s a summary of what is already happening in 2011:

  • Gardening progresses. We are definitely taking on two school gardens which were defunct last year. We will be revitalizing them so the schools can have educational gardens again, and will use the gardens to get neighborhood youth involved in community service, and will hopefully be able to compensate them for their work. This will get them into a character-building activity before they are old enough to make bad decisions that greatly affect the rest of their life. Two of our missionaries are taking Gateway Greening’s Growing Gardeners class; Gateway Greening will also supply free seedlings for the gardens.
  • We found a source for free wood! A father of one of the missionaries works at a machine shop that gets in about 20 hardwood (mostly oak) pallets a week, and said we can have them. We have already begun to make benches, compost bins, and picnic tables out of them. The wood is solid, pretty, and good quality. We are trying to connect these products with our new network of gardeners.
  • We were donated a full kitchen cabinet set! This helps us organize the Opportunity Center and makes it a much nicer, brighter, inviting place.
  • We had a huge bag order! January and February is a pretty slow time for orders of our products. Incarnate Word Foundation met with us, and decided to order 175 custom bags from us for a conference they’re having in September. This provided much needed funding at a slow time, and also proved our increased capacity and caused our missionaries to expand their skills, and provides a new connection.
  • We had a huge bag donation! A local roaster donated 5 pallets of coffee bags, which gives us plenty of material with which to work, and allowed us to pass along about 200 coffee bags to local gardeners.
  • God has continued to open doors. We have met with new groups and are working on new connections, to truly unite people to serve the world. A future blog will explore these new connections God has opened up.
  • We have another board up! We are attempting to board up the numerous vacant properties in Hyde Park, as the city cannot afford to do it. Boarding up the buildings preserves their historic architecture from the elements and vandals, and shows the community that someone cares. St. John Neumann Catholic School adopted a building. Pictures and blog are coming soon!
  • We were donated 5 laptops by Covidien, which will help with organizing our work and training; two will be used as incentives for youth employment.
  • There are two brothers from Hyde Park who are being discipled by our missionaries. They accepted Jesus Christ, and have helped us around the shop and the community. We built a dog house with them out of scrap wood, and when we delivered it to their house, their mother commented on how they have changed, and told us to keep up the good work. Praise God for transforming lives and the community!
  • God has continued to guide, direct, and refine our work, bring opportunities and provision, and increase our ability to minister to the community.

Thanks to all who support us through donation, prayer, and joining us in our work!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making Paper: Part 2

We have paper! Sort of.

We researched commercial methods of creating paper from jute (the plant from which burlap is made) and there is still currently experimentation going on at that level for how to do it. Some use strong alkaline solutions, while others use powerful acids. We didn't want to do either. So we tried soda ash, which is sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda), which is widely used as a water softener. Pretty safe stuff.

So we chopped up the burlap sack, and put some in water with some soda ash, and boiled it. It smelled terrible. After boiling we let it sit for a while.

We put the soup in the blender, and immediately noticed a difference. It seemed to be breaking up very well. So we poured it in the mould and pressed the pulp, and out came a sheet...of paper!

We blended some more of it, and got a second piece of paper.

We made pulp, and made paper. However, it’s not very strong. The fibers are still (relatively) very large. And it much more resembles felt than paper. We tried another batch from scratch, but it kept boiling over from too much soda ash. So we’re still figuring it out. We might start experimenting with adding waste paper to the mix.

In other news, gardening is moving forward. We’ve continued to meet with different organizations in the area about community gardening, and two of our missionaries attended their first Gateway Greening Growing Gardeners class.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Making Paper: Part 1

The products that Sun Ministries makes in its sewing center are made up of almost all reclaimed materials, and we enjoy being able to do that. The coffee roasting companies go through so many burlap sacks that some don't know what to do with them. And we get the privelege of turning them into products that not only give us skills we can teach to others, but provide us with funding to keep doing everything we do.

However, we end up with a lot of burlap sacks, and even after we cut what we need from them, we are left with barrels of waste burlap.

We've heard that you can make paper from jute, which is the plant material that is woven into burlap. We started the new year experimenting with this process. We could find no clear information for turning jute burlap into paper, so we read up on making recycled paper and tried our best.

We assembled our tools, and set up a makeshift paper making station, which included: a basin for water, a blender, a food processor, a piece of wood, a potato masher, an old metal tray for a drain pan, coffee pots set up making really hot water, and our hand made mould and deckle (basically wooden frames for making paper). Then we cut up the sack into little pieces and let it soak for a few hours in hot water. After that, we dumped the mess, which looked like wet hair, into the blender, and blended. And blended. And blended. We couldn't seem to make "pulp". Undeterred, we spread out the blended wet jute on to our mould (a screen stretched over a frame), let the water drain, set the mess between some pieces of fabric, and pressed it between boards under the weight of a hefty tool box, and waited.

We produced what looked like dried, matted pet hair. It could be called a sheet, but it definitely was not paper.

We tried again, this time putting dry burlap pieces in the food processor before blending, and ended up with something that looked like a small kitten.

We have since researched some technical papers on the commercial manufacturing of jute paper, and it appears soaking in an alkaline solution is necessary. So we will continue in our experimentation using the safest materials possible. In the mean time, we have also developed some smaller products which will use more of each coffee bag, and we are also offering whole bags for sale, so you can experiment with your own crafts. We will keep you posted on our efforts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Products Available Online

2011 will be a year to expand the reach of the Opportunity Center. Our unique one of a kind products have gained us a growing group of retailers in the St. Louis area. Visit our web site for a complete list. The best selection of one of a kind products will always be found at our retailers and the different festivals or craft shows we attend.

For those of you outside the St. Louis area we have added an online store with a selection of products from the Opportunity Center. These products are consistent designs based on our one of a kind creations. We also include some items that we don't sell through retailers.

Take a minute to visit the store and please refer your friends. The greatest source of funding for our work comes from the products we make and sell!

Products with Purpose™ Store