Meet Ray Young, Ecostar Award Finalist and Amazing Placemaker who is combining his two favourite hobbies: reading and woodworking.
In an interview with Teale Phelps Bondaroff, GVPN’s Pocket Places Project Lead, Ray spoke about his inspiration behind iusedtobeapallet.com. We are fortunate that Ray made this time for conversation and sharing this story about family and community bonds, and transformation from pallets to little free libraries (he’s on number 20) to 650+ different upcycles!
TPB: Teale Phelps Bondaroff (interviewer, Pocket Places Project lead)
RY: Ray Young (Amazing Placemaker)
TPB: Tell me a little about yourself. What got you into carpentry and what inspired you to set up I Used To Be A Pallet?
RY: I started woodworking in 2016 after having retired for a few years. At that point in time, my Father moved back to Victoria after a 30 year absence. Woodworking was my Father’s hobby. I took up woodworking to spend time with him.
TPB: Tell me a little about I Used To Be A Pallet? What kind of things do you do?
RY: I convert discarded pallets, used wood, end cuts, and discarded lumber from building sites into furniture, art, commercial items, home and garden products, seasonal décor, and various novelties. This has resulted in the creation of over 650 different products, sourced from my own artistic creativity or customer specifications. My catalogue can be viewed at: www.iusedtobeapallet.com
TPB: Let’s talk little free libraries, why LFLs? What do you like about these little book boxes?
RY: I have been an avid reader for over two decades. When I was asked to build my first LFL, I jumped at the chance to do so, as this request combined two of my favourite hobbies of reading and woodworking.
What I enjoy about the many Little Free Libraries around town, is that there could always be a surprise book in the LFL that you would normally not read. LFLs also create a bond with other readers and owners of LFLs.
TPB: How many LFLs have you built and what is your favourite?
RY: I have started my 20th LFL this month. My favourite LFLs are the ones that have the most detail and provide a creative challenge. I don’t necessarily have a favourite library, but there are bits and pieces from different libraries that I have particularly enjoyed making.
TPB: What goes into making a LFL? Walk us through your process.
RY: Upon contact from the LFL Owner, I make a site visit and take several photos of the actual house and note some of the design features that I will be capturing. I then sketch a rough plan of the library and start to cut wood to reflect my plans. Usually, I build the box portion and interior shelves of the library first, followed by the elaborate details of the front door of the library, I then clad the rest of the sides of the library. I add the roof structure, install the library door and then trim out the rest of the details.
TPB: What is the most challenging LFLs you’ve built?
RY: It is difficult to say which LFL has been the most challenging. Several different libraries have their own unique challenges such as replicating brick or stone work, replicating roof lines and capturing various complex details.
TPB: How do you see LFL transforming communities?
RY: LFLs act as a great community meeting point and creates a connection between people with the common interest of reading and sharing books. These neighbourhood connections facilitate a greater sense of community. LFLs also prevent books from being disposed of into the landfill and allow others to use books many times over.
TPB: Last question for you. How can people get one of your LFLs?
RY: For those interested in one of my LFLs, you can contact me at email@example.com
TPB: Ray, thank you for sharing your story with the Placemaking Network!
Do please let us know about future installations and when people set them up, please connect with me so I can add them to the LFL email subscription list for book pickups and events!
Ray’s story was featured in this CTV News video clip: 91-year-old father and son reconnect by turning replicas of homes into little libraries
And inked in Saanich News: Retired Greater Victoria Consultant crafts wasted wood into libraries
More Little Free Libraries in recent news: www.teale.ca/littlefreelibraries
All image credits: Ray Young