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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Hero of the Month

RRRheroJulySteve Burke, a Town of Gilbert resident for over 20 years, is a textbook example that you don’t have to be an artist to make art.  Retired for 34 years from the U.S. Marshals service, Burke was looking for a hobby and happened to see an old Schwinn bicycle thrown out by his neighbor.  Though Burke has never attended an art class nor worked with a wrench, he took the bike to his garage and tinkered with it until he configured a masterpiece.

Burke now focuses on refurbishing/up-scaling Japanese or American-made bicycles because of their heritage. He knows they will last and they are frequently made of American steel.  After garnering much interest from the public in his home (garage) business operation, Steve opened a shop in Gilbert.  Unfortunately, Steve’s shop relied heavily on foot traffic from a local sports bar and when that business closed, so did much of Steve’s walk-in customer traffic.

Neighborhood support of Burke’s dream and talent to make usable art from discarded objects led him to Glen Blackmore, owner and operator of the Eclectic Monkey Emporium in Mesa.  Blackmore, like Burke, has a passion for converting discarded industrial items into works of art. It became a match made in heaven.  Together, Burke and Blackmore challenge each other to complete projects, shop yard sales to salvage unique pieces, and gradually restore the Eclectic Monkey’s unique building.

Starting in August, Burke and Blackmore will start hosting Technology, Entertainment and Design “TED” talks at the store twice a month on Fridays and Saturdays with a speak-easy garage theme. There will be drinks, food provided by local vendors and, of course, Burke and Blackmore will showcase their completed up-scaled art pieces.   During the last week of the each month, the up-scaled art will be offered for purchase. Then, the process will start again with both men creating new innovative one-of-a-kind art pieces to be sold the following month.

Burke is excited to be working with Blackmore and together they envision a great future for the Eclectic Monkey Emporium.  Though Burke continues to volunteer his time in support of local Gilbert sustainability efforts, he wishes to make a larger impact in his own community by someday opening another eco-friendly up-scaled art shop within town lines.  With his artistic talent and a healthy knowledge of “going green,” (thanks to attending a Chandler Gilbert Community College class on sustainability,) Burke is sure to realize his dream.   Because of his passion for sustainability, his enthusiasm for community involvement and his dedication to working exclusively with recycled material, Steve Burke is our Gilbert Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Hero for the month of July!

If you know someone who you feel should be recognized for as an RRR Hero, please e-mail us at recycle@gilbertaz.gov or give us a call directly at 480-503-6459.

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