By Rebecca Osowski – 1851 Contributor
The Beautiful Stuff Project is a mission to “inspire creativity and increase access to play and the arts through reuse,” an idea that runs true through their unique treasure box curriculum.
But what actually is the Beautiful Stuff Project? Well, about 35 years ago, The Beautiful Stuff Project Founder and Educational Program Director Marina Seevak started her first job at the Boston Children’s Museum. The museum had a recycle center where museum goers could create art projects with recycled materials. The idea stuck with Seevak as she continued her career as a public-school teacher where she had a junk center where her students could play and create projects. As Seevak moved through careers, her passion for creative reuse followed her, until she started her own nonprofit and created The Beautiful Stuff Project.
The treasure box curriculum was created to use recycled materials to recognize and support children’s natural play inclinations, and inspire careful exploration of provided treasure. The students use their senses to discover new materials and how to play and experiment with them. Seevak first tested her curriculum with an old friend’s kindergarten class. While the teacher was hesitant, she let Seevak into her classroom and the children fell in love.
“We grew because of the community, because teachers wanted us,” said Seevak. Despite working pro bono, teachers from all over Somerville Public Schools were requesting Seevak and her curriculum and she taught in some classrooms.
Now, Seevak has a contract with Somerville Public Schools and has recently taught in Cambridge Public Schools as well. She also received the Cummings Foundation Grant, which is given to local nonprofit organizations working to better the community and the lives of its members through education, healthcare, human services and social justice.
On top of the treasure box curriculum, The Beautiful Stuff Project has a storefront that allows visitors to purchase materials and open studios four days a week, allowing members of the community of all ages to embrace their creative side through art with reused materials.
Due to COVID-19, Seevak had to adapt both her curriculum and her storefront but continues to help the community in immense ways. As her treasure box curriculum has now transferred to Zoom, her storefront has become a diaper donation center. Quickly after the pandemic began, Seevak partnered with the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative as “there were many families that were very impacted by the devastating loss of jobs,” and she wanted to provide basic needs for these families. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Seevak and the Beautiful Stuff Project have distributed over 260,000 diapers to the Somerville community at free meal sites every Wednesday.
As Seevak continues to give back to her community in more ways than one, she is calling on those who can, to help those in need. “If everyone who can, could, things could be a lot better.” If you’re at Lasell University looking to learn more and get involved, or even just donate, you can go to their website. Donation drop-off hours are from Monday-Thursday 12:00-4:00 p.m.