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Whirligig makes it easier to be green

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Olympia’s new eco-friendly shop, Whirligig, located at 314 Capitol Way N, opened Saturday. According to owner Christine Philippsen, a steady stream of people flowed through the space, culminating in what Philippsen considers “the icing on the cake,” as Cyclopsycho Ashley Shomo performed to a standing room only crowd during her CD release party.

The experimental voice musician also had work featured in the shop, delicate filigreed snowflakes made of quilted strips of  junk mail.

Shomo’s performance, work, and the community support of the day was, as Philippsen said, “a good melding of things,” demonstrating the kind of energy Philippsen hopes to cultivate in her space.

Philippsen considers opening her shop to be “an act of courage or an act of craziness.”  She adds, “A number of things have been pointing me in this direction. I wanted to spend a little of my time making a better impact.”

As a graphic designer, Philippsen says, “I enjoyed my work, but I wanted to leave a better legacy.”

She found the space formerly occupied by the Side Door Studio where she’s currently working out her mission: “I’m trying to make it easier for the average person to make it more accessible (to be green.)”

“I struggle at home to make things greener in the choices I make.”

Philippsen notes that the more she researches, the more she feels overwhelmed; she speculates others out there are in her shoes, and she hopes to create a sanctuary of products and resources that will help others to make a lighter footprint on the planet.  But rather than somber preaching, Whirligig seeks to spread the message and educate through light-hearted means, like Shomo’s junk-mail snowflakes.  Joining the snowflakes in Philippsen’s shop so far are artworks by Nora Walsh, collages built from the insides of security envelopes.

Philippsen observes one particular work “captures that Sunday early afternoon where you roll out of bed … that pure, still moment.” She suggests that Walsh, as well as other artists in her shop, “finds things that most people would consider waste and makes beautiful things”

Also in the shop are lamps of scrap metal by Bil Fleming, natural motif works by ceramicist Robin Lee, organic cotton T-shirts and repurposed wool items by Lady Frog Designs, and woodworking by Matthew Gardener of Sirus building Company, which specializes in sustainable woodworking using food-grade tung oil in the finishes of his pieces.

The logo for Whirligig was created by blind artist Jeff Freels, whose line of zombie art and calendars is also in the shop.

But wait, there’s more, with plans set for much more.

Biodegradable dog waste bags and trash can liners are among items Philippsen is hoping to bring in. She’s also hoping to bring in toothbrushes and disposable razors, which can be sent back to the company that makes them; also, she adds, “I’m trying to get a line of biodegradable, disposable diapers.”

She adds, “I’m trying to amass as many different types of green products in this store.”

Philippsen says, “it’s not easy being green.  It’s easy to be just the opposite.  I like things that are convenient, and so does everybody else. I’m trying to make it convenient.”

And along with providing convenient shopping, Philippsen hopes to provide education.

Along those lines, in the same spirit of the opening CD release party, Philippsen will collaborate with Diane Kurzyna, the artist also known as Ruby Reusable, whose plastic-bag babies are also featured items in Whirligig.

On the weekend after Halloween, Kurzyna will teach the perfect post-Halloween treat: candy-wrapper dolls.  That event will happen on Nov 4, from 1 to 3 p.m., for $10.

The event will happen in the multipurpose room in the space, which Philippsen hopes will also host other educationally-themed events, including classes and lectures, potentially from city and county experts on waste reduction.

“It’s a matter of bringing awareness to the public,” suggests Philippsen.

She adds,“I’m trying to bring practical and fanciful items, and bring education along,” 

[Whirligig, reserve a spot at the “Sweet Wishes” candy wrapper doll making class taught by Diane Kurzyna before Nov. 4, 314 Capitol Way, Olympia, 360.943.1403]

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