One of our goals at Perennial is to support opportunities for under-resourced populations to engage in the creative reuse process. In our unique programs, we work with women at a point of personal transformation or transition, giving them a chance to learn new skills and develop confidence in their ideas, abilities, and gifts through a positive and creative outlet.
For Perennial’s DIY Workshops, we partner with local social service agencies to bring once-a-month creative classes to their clients. Perennial’s teaching artists lead 1-2 hour workshops that allow participants to gain do-it-yourself skills as they create artistic and functional projects using reclaimed materials. Projects range from creating handmade paper from paper scraps, making custom journals from reclaimed books, crafting unique jewelry from old leather belts, and more. Perennial works with partner agencies to develop lessons that fit their clients’ needs while making sure each workshop teaches participants a new handy and artistic skill, such as sewing or glass cutting, and shows them a new use for an item that might otherwise be thrown away, such as an old shirt, book, or picture frame.
Perennial’s ReCreate Studio program engages clients from the DIY Workshops and provides a structured open-studio environment once a week for three hours at Perennial’s shop. In the Studio program, participants work on self-identified reuse projects. Perennial’s teaching artists assist participants in developing their ideas, setting goals, creating a work plan, and teaching any skills necessary for the successful completion of their projects.
A typical ReCreate Studio begins with participants from our various partner organizations making their way to Perennial’s shop. The women check in and find a work space in the craft studio. Whether they have brought in a photo of a project they would like to learn how to make or see a material in the community basement that sparks their interest, they gather their tools and supplies and begin to work.
Our woodshop specialist and our outreach specialist are there to assist and support when things get frustrating. Participants socialize, catch up with others, share their crafts, and teach each other skills all while this weekly time and studio space are reserved for just them. Women bring in clothing to alter or repair, repurpose jewelry, construct furniture and decorations for their homes or apartments, and try their hand at many other new skills and tools. The projects we see the most, however, are crafts that they intend to give away and gift to others. The women of outreach are innately resourceful and resilient individuals who we learn as much from as they may learn from Perennial.
Green Neighbors is a quarterly Perennial outreach event that began in 2021 with hopes to grow and evolve. Each Green Neighbors event features a reuse craft, education on a local environmental justice topic through guest speakers and demonstrations, and food from a local vendor. The series is open to residents of Perennial’s surrounding neighborhoods (Dutchtown, Marine Villa, Gravois Park, and Mount Pleasant) and gives individuals and families a fun and unique opportunity to expand their concept of sustainability while enjoying the company of neighbors.
Since 2012, Perennial has partnered with Keyway, a non-profit that provides comprehensive wrap-around services for women and trans individuals reentering the St. Louis community from jail or prison.
Since 2013, Perennial has partnered with Lydia’s House, a non-profit that provides domestic violence survivors and their children a safe place to heal, a voice for justice, and an opportunity for better and sustainable lives. Lydia’s House provides safe, affordable transitional housing for its residents.
Since 2013, Perennial has partnered with St. Patrick Center, a non-profit that provides opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity to our unhoused neighbors and those at risk of becoming houseless. Perennial brings creative programming to women in the Women’s Night program, which is an emergency shelter that provides temporary housing for women who are experiencing homelessness and who have behavior health issues and/or substance abuse issues.
Since 2017, Perennial has partnered with Bilingual STL, a non-profit whose mission is to ensure equal access to healthcare, mental health, and social services for all, regardless of national origin or language ability.