GLEAN: to gather, collect bit by bit, or pick over in search of relevant material

GLEAN is a unique art program sponsored by Cracked Pots, an environmental arts non-profit; Metro, a regional government; and, Recology, a private waste management company. The program was created to help raise awareness about our consumption habits and inspire new ways of looking at trash as a resource. Each year, five artists are selected by a jury of arts and environmental professionals. Over the course of five months, the artists are granted access to the NW transfer station to glean discarded materials otherwise destined for the landfill. They then use these materials as their medium for creating art that inspires and educates about excessive waste reduction. The completed works are shown each August in an exhibition open to the public at the Furthermore Gallery, Bison Building, NE Portland. In December, GLEAN will begin accepting applications from artists who wish to participate in the 2019 program.

2018 GLEAN Artists

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What's a transfer station?

Up until the early 1990s, most regions around the country still had local “dumps” where the community’s waste was taken. Due to concerns about public health and the environment, as well as increasing regulations, most of these local landfills began to close.

As communities struggled to figure out what to do with their waste, large waste management companies began construction of “mega-landfills” in remote locations designed to accept waste from hundreds of miles away. This new system created a new challenge — how could waste picked up by small, local garbage trucks be transported over such long distances?

The solution was to build transfer stations where waste from local garbage haulers and citizens could be processed and reloaded onto long-haul trucks, freight trains and even barges, in some instances. The Portland region’s waste is trucked 150 miles to the 2,000-acre Columbia Ridge Landfill in eastern Oregon. While we can be very proud of our high diversion rate, we still send more than a million tons of waste to landfills each year. Ouch.