La Isla is a recycling redemption center, community space, and fabrication studio created to address economic inequality and lack of free community space in Washington Heights. Its main goal is to give
people more agency through economic empowerment using recycling, fabrication training, and selling material outcomes as a vehicle to this end. I believe empowering communities in ways such as small economic “boosts”, educational and arts opportunities, and public space to gather and organize facilitates a healthier balance in community development. These goals are formed from observing what people are already doing.
Although I do not believe that recycling is a panacea for these issues, what is unique about this solution is that it works with people’s time investment and rewards them for effort in different ways.
One can simply drop off recycling for a cash redemption or invest some time in learning how to make goods at the facility; increasing potential income or creating items they want or need (i.e. a spatula,
a comb, some dominos) without using money. This process returns the means of production to the worker, lessening the cash imperative. It is a luxury of time to participate in community activities, in particular for lower income demographics. This system creates economic compensation for participation, offsetting any income loss and strengthening the neighborhood.
La Isla provides a space to make a few dollars, learn how to create art/products with recycled material, and gather with members of the community/visitors for fun or purpose.