People for Urban Progress, or PUP, is an environmentally focused non-profit that began in 2008. At that point, the RCA dome was in the beginning stages of demolition, and two bright innovators had an idea to save the dome from being sent to a landfill. Michael Bricker and Maryanne O’Malley brainstormed and implemented a plan to arrange the salvage of the dome fabric. It wasn't their intention to form a non-profit organization but at the time, it just made sense.
Since its creation, PUP has crafted thousands of products out of the RCA dome material, and there are still acres of fabric left. PUP works with designers to make awesome products such as wallets, clutches, tote bags, duffel bags and bike panniers. They also sell popular Indianapolis themed t-shirts that say ‘317.’, which is Indianapolis’ area code.
In addition to this, they scored a deal with the Super Bowl XLVI when it came to Indianapolis almost two years ago. All the banners and signs that were used downtown and in the downtown Superbowl Village in early 2012 were donated for the cause.
The money earned from these recycled products and t-shirts goes towards one of PUP's many on-going community projects. Right now, their biggest project is partnering with IndyGo to install old Bush Stadium seats at bus stops around Indianapolis. These installations have been dubbed ‘PUPstops.’ They focus on stops that don’t have seating or shelters, and partner with sponsoring organizations or use private donations to help fund the installation in addition to the money they earn from their products. As of now, nineteen PUPstops have been installed, and they’re hoping to more than double that number by the summer of 2014.
The dome fabric is also used to create shade structures at local parks and community gardens. The first prototype was created in 2010 and has been adapted for different sites. These structures are great for community gardens or large outdoor spaces since it spent years providing a roof over the old Colts stadium.
This upcoming November, PUP will celebrate it’s 5th birthday by hosting a party on First Friday, a recurring Indianapolis event that celebrates art and culture on the first Friday of every month. In addition to the recent launch of their fall line of products, they are providing tons of entertainment and fun activities and hope to see many visitors to their studio space.
The stories that Indianapolis residents share with PUP are heartwarming. Many people remember numerous trips to the RCA Dome and sitting in Bush Stadium seats as a child. Some people just love that their products are sustainable. Regardless of their reasoning, thousands who call Indianapolis home are supportive of People for Urban Progress and the work that they do.
Does your city have an organization that serves as a think-tank for urban and community projects?
Credits: Image by Laura Granieri and linked to sources. Data linked to sources.