Houston Re-Market brings new life, turning recycling into a habit-forming streetparty
It’s almost 100 degrees at the corner of Fannin and Drew (just below McGowen) and it’s not quite 10 a.m. Nevertheless, the Houston Re-Market is bustling with customers. With vendors selling everything from sculptures to handbags to used LPs, the Re-Market takes the shape of your typical local weekend market.
It’s the event’s underlying ethos, however, that’s drawn people to the market on this sweltering third Saturday in August.
Approaching its one year anniversary, the Re-Market is the first of its kind in Houston to dedicate itself solely to the repurposing of everyday materials. The brainchild of green entrepreneurs Michael Cannon and Paloma Garner, the monthly event grew out of the couple’s first project, Greeni — a recycling service aimed at residences, businesses and events not reached by the city’s municipal recycling programs.
Since 2009 Greeni Recycling has built a varied list of clients that includes Inversion Coffee, Brasserie Max & Julie, Beaver’s, SummerFest, and the Westheimer Block Party.
“Recycling is habit-forming — it just takes a simple shift in your habits,” Cannon says of the basic philosophy behind Greeni Recycling and the Re-Market. He sees these recycling efforts as a social vehicle, involving multiple layers of a given community through volunteer efforts and outreach programs.
The idea for the Re-Market gestated for several months until Greeni’s work early last year led to a close working relationship with Adam Brackman, a co-founder of both the eco-friendly home store New Living in Rice Village and Urban Deal, a real estate brokerage firm that focuses on socially-responsible development. A strong proponent of creating businesses that are both green and economically viable, Brackman instantly took to the Re-Market concept and offered his help.
“Mike and Paloma are some of the most passionate people I have met,” Brackman writes in an email. “When we first started working together, they had a vision for a re-market in Houston, but did not have a home for it.”
The Re-Market is the first of its kind in Houston to dedicate itself solely to the repurposing of everyday materials.
At the time, Urban Deal’s vacant former MHMRA building in Midtown had become a pet project for Brackman. Sitting on an entire city block in the middle of a high-traffic area, the pink stucco building begged for new life. He had recently commissioned Houston artist Daniel Anguilu (known as Weah in the local art and graffiti scenes) to wrap the street-level wall space with his signature angular designs, using non-toxic paint provided by New Living.
As Weah’s bold work progressed, the property gained a certain amount of notoriety throughout the neighborhood, establishing the building as a cultural icon and earning the artist a string of commissions, including a large-scale mural on the side of the nearby Lawndale Art Center. Cannon and Garner jumped at the opportunity to use the MHMRA lot to launch their inaugural Re-Market last October.
“There’s life at the Re-Market,” Garner notes as she takes a seat behind the “oops-paint” stand, a small outfit selling non-toxic paint from The Green Painter, New Living’s dedicated paint store that opened this past spring.
Hip-hop artist Alex Nikkhoo spins funk records from the back of Greeni’s heavily spray-painted biodiesel delivery truck. A woman running a small garage sale explains in detail the benefits of Tibetan meditation to a customer. A late-arriving vendor draws a crowd as he sets up a stand offering a stack of posters that includes both Michael Jackson and the cast of Jersey Shore. The ever-changing “free swap” area maintains a steady stream of donors and takers.
“Ultimately, relationships are more important than monetary gain,” Cannon tells me, speaking loudly over the generator the Boulevard Grill food truck powered up to serve a line of customers. “The Re-Market is about cohesion with like-minded individuals. People are clearly interested in preserving the planet, but they just don’t always know how to get involved.”
The Houston Re-Market is open the third Saturday of every month at 2850 Fannin.