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Please utilize this open map as a community tool to spread the green movement locations throughout the Tampa bay area. Please locations that you feel are green such as businesses, organizations, websites, facilities, institutions, and general locations of significance to growing a more local living economy! Sponsored by Code Green Community (http://codegreencommunity.org)
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Number of sites: 38

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Title Site Added by Comment
FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS Hong Kong Willie Anonymous

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE
S.L. GIMBEL FOUNDATION.
IN THIS EDITION OF "WEDU ARTS PLUS,Hongkongwillie

A LOCAL ARTS AND ARTIFACTS BUSINESS TRANSFORMS TRASH
INTO TREASURE.
>> I THINK I WAS MEANT TO TELL THE STORY ABOUT REUSE.
THE PERSON IS NOT IMPORTANT.
THE STORY IS IMPORTANT.

AS A BOY,Florida Famous Artist JOE BROWN WATCHED GARBAGE TRUCKS HAUL TRASH TO A
DUMP ON HIS FAMILY PROPERTY.
TODAY, HE RUNS A TAMPA PRESERVATION ART BUSINESS CALLED HONG
KONG WILLIE, WHERE BURLAP BAGS AND LOBSTER BUOYS ARE
CONVERTED TO WORKS OF ART.
>> MY NAME IS JOE BROWN.
MY ART NAME IS HONG KONG WILLIE.
I AM A REUSE ARTIST TAKING MEDIA THAT WOULD HAVE NATURALLY
BEEN DISPOSED OF IN LANDFILLS AND ADDING THE GIFT THAT I'VE
BEEN GIVEN TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT SOMEBODY POSSIBLY MIGHT

HAVE AN ALLUREMENT TO AND ATTRACTION TO.
REUSE AND RECYCLING CAME FROM BEING RAISED ON A LANDFILL ON
GUNN HIGHWAY HERE IN TAMPA.
IT WAS AN ENTRAPPING WAY WITH VERY LITTLE FUNDS TO MAKE
SOMETHING THAT WAS ATTRACTIVE AND REWARDING TO ME
PERSONALLY.
¶¶
>> ACQUIRING MEDIA, SUCH AS BOARDS, STARTED WHEN WE WERE
PICKING UP BOARDS MAYBE FROM BUILDINGS THAT HAD BEEN
DESTROYED FROM THE HURRICANES.
BOARDS THAT CAME FROM HISTORICAL BUILDINGS IN THE KEYS.
SOME OF THE REAL THICK, THICK HEAVY BOARDS WERE BOARDS THAT
I THINK WERE CUT ROUGH CUT.
THE SMOOTHNESS CAME OUT OF MANY YEARS OF WEARING.
WE ACQUIRED SOME BOARDS THAT CAME FROM THE ORIGINAL RAILROAD
BRIDGE THAT FLAGLER BUILT.
I THINK ALL ARTISTS SOMETIMES INVOKE THE FEELINGS AND THE
STORIES ABOUT THE MEDIA THAT THEY ARE WORKING WITH.
I THINK THAT ART, ESPECIALLY WHEN SOMEONE FALLS IN LOVE WITH
IT, THEY WANT TO KNOW THE STORY.
AND BECAUSE OF THE KEYS HAVING THE TREMENDOUS EFFECT THAT IT
HAS ON US, AND BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS SHAPED THE KEYS, THERE
COMES A TIME WHERE ALL OF IT COMES TOGETHER AND THAT'S WHAT
MAKES IT SO SPECIAL.
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING CHANGES

WITH DIFFERENT MEDIA THAT WE'VE ACQUIRED.
AS YOU DRIVE IN THE DRIVEWAY, YOU'LL SEE HAND PRINTS AND
SOME SPRINKLED PAINT WITH ACTIVITY.
WE TRY TO USE LITTLE DIFFERENT MINIPICTURES OUT THERE WHERE
YOU MIGHT SEE A SIGN HANGING ON A TENNIS SHOE WITH A TV
REMOTE.
SHOES THAT HAVE FLOATED UP FROM THE OCEANS THAT WE'VE USED
SOMETIMES TO INVOKE THOUGHTS OF WHERE WE WERE AT A
PARTICULAR TIME.
THE TRAVELS OF THOSE SHOES.
THERE ARE BOARDS OUT THERE THAT WE'VE ACQUIRED THAT WE'VE
MADE LITTLE DESIGNS ON.
I FOUND THAT MOST WOOD, PROBABLY THE WORK IS ALREADY THERE.
YOU'RE GOING TO DO A LITTLE BIT OF SHAVING, A LITTLE BIT OF
CARVING.
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, THE OBJECT IS FINISHED.
AFTER 9/11 HAPPENED, I REALIZED HOW GREAT A MIRACLE WAS.
I HAD A LOT OF MEDIA AROUND AND I STARTED WITH THE CROSS.
AND I PUT THE CROSS UP.
THEN I HAD SOME LITTLE OBJECTS THAT WERE POLICEMEN AND
FIREMEN, AND I PUT THEM IN THERE.
AND THEN I HAD SOME OLD BEEPERS FOR THE TECHNOLOGY, AND THEN
ANOTHER TWO OBJECTS THAT WERE SHERLOCK HOLMES AND NAPOLEON
FOR POWER AND INVESTIGATING.
I LOOKED OVER IN A PILE OF WOOD, AND THERE WAS A SHAPE OF A

PIECE OF WOOD AND A NINE.
NEXT TO IT WAS TWO PIECES THAT LOOKED LIKE 11.
BEFORE I KNEW IT, IT ALL CAME TOGETHER.
I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST.
AS TO WHERE IF WE CAN FIND MEDIA THAT'S EASILY OBTAINABLE
AND ADD OUR TALENTS TO IT, IT BECOMES VERY REWARDING IN THAT
FACTOR, BECAUSE WE HAVE LESSENED THE COMPLICATED FACTOR AND
TAKEN SOMETHING THAT'S WITHIN US AND HAD THE MEDIA AND THEN
GIVING US SOMETHING THAT HAS SOME KIND OF APPEAL TO EITHER
OURSELVES OR SOMEONE.
I THINK I WAS MEANT TO TELL THE STORY ABOUT REUSE.
I THINK I AM JUST A PERSON THAT'S IN THIS ELEMENT TELLING A
STORY.
THE PERSON IS NOT IMPORTANT.
THE STORY IS IMPORTANT.
Google Hong Kong Willie

11/21/2015 - 13:33
By Tristram DeRoma The Story Hong Kong Willie Anonymous

By Tristram DeRoma
The Story Behind the Eye-Catching Art at I-75 Exit 266 Tampa Florida
Famous Artist Joe Brown, better known as "Hong Kong Willie," makes art with a message at his home/studio near I 75 Exit 266 Tampa Florida.

Sometimes, it’s the smallest experiences that have the biggest impact on a person’s life.
While attending an art class in 1958 at the age of 8, Famous Artist, Joe Brown recalled being mesmerized by the lesson. It involved transforming a Gerber baby bottle into a piece of art.
“The Gerber bottle had no intrinsic value at all,” he said. “But when (the instructor) got through with me that day, she made me see how something so (valueless) can be valuable.”
By the time class was over, Brown learned many other lessons, too, such as the importance of volunteerism, recycling, reuse and giving back to the community. He recalled being impressed by the teacher's volunteer work in Hiroshima, Japan, helping atomic bomb survivors.
"One of the last words she ever spoke to me about that was, ‘When I left, I left out of Hong Kong,’ ” he said. After turning that over in his young brain for awhile, he decided to use it in a nickname, adding the name “Willie” a year later.
You've probably seen Hong Kong Willie's eye-catching home/gallery/studio at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75. But what is the story of the man behind all those buoys and discarded objects turned into art?
Brown practiced his creative skills through his younger years. But as an adult, he managed to amass a small fortune working in the materials management industry. By the the '80s, he left the business world and decided to concentrate on his art. He spent some years in the Florida Keys honing his craft and building his reputation as a folk artist. He also bought some land in Tampa near Morris Bridge Road and Fletcher Avenue where he and his family still call home.
Brown purchased the land just after the entrances and exits to I-75 were built. He said he was once offered more than $1 million for the land by a restaurant. He turned it down, he said, preferring instead to make part of the property into a studio and gallery for the creations he and his family put together.
And all of it is made of what most people would consider “trash.” Pieces of driftwood, burlap bags, doll heads, rope — anything that comes Brown’s way becomes part of his vocabulary of expression, and, in turn, becomes something else, which makes a tour of his property somewhat of a visual adventure. What at first seems like a random menagerie of glass, driftwood and pottery suddenly comes together in one's brain to form something completely different. One moment nothing, the next a powerful statement about 9/11.
One Man's Trash ...
Trash? There is no such thing, Brown seems to say through his art.
He keeps a blog about his art at hongkongwillie.blogspot.com. He also sells his creations through the Website Etsy.com.
In his shop, he has fashioned many smaller items out of driftwood, burlap bags and other materials into signs, purses, totes, bird feeder hangars and yard sculptures.
He sells a lot to the regular influx of University of South Florida parents and students every year who are are at first intrigued by the “buoy tree” and the odd-looking building they see as they take Exit 266 off I-75.
Brown Sells More Than Art
Of course, the real locals know Brown’s place for the quality of his worms.
If there’s one thing that Brown knows does well in the ground, it’s the Florida redworm, something he enthusiastically promotes, selling the indigenous species to customers for use in their compost piles. Some of his customers say his worms are just as good at the end of a fishing hook, though.
“To be honest, what made me come here is that they had scriptures on the top of his bait cans,” said customer John Brin. “Plus, they have good service. They’re nice and they’re kind, and they treat you like family.”
Though Brin knows Brown sells them mostly for composting, he said they are great for catching blue gill, sand perch and other local favorites. He also added that he likes getting his worms from Brown “because his bait stays alive longer than any other baits I’ve used.”
For prices and amounts, he has another blog dedicated just to worms.
Of course, many people also stop by to buy the smaller pieces of art that he and his family create: purses made of burlap, welcome signs made of driftwood, planters and other items lining the walls of his store.
He’s also helped put his mark on the decor of local establishments too, such as Gaspar’s Patio, 8448 N. 56th st.
Owner Jimmy Ciaccio said that when it came time to redecorate the restaurant several years ago, there was only one person to call for the assignment, and that was his good friend Brown.
"I’ve known Joe all my life, and we always had a good chemistry together,” Ciaccio said. "He’s very creative and fun to be around, and that’s how it all came about.”
Ciaccio says he still gets compliments all the time for the restaurant’s atmosphere he created using the “trash” supplied by Brown. He describes the style as a day at the beach, like a visit to Old Key West. “They’re so inspired, they want to decorate their own homes this way,” he said.
It’s that kind of testimony that makes Brown feel good, knowing that others, too, are inspired to create instead of throw away when they see his work. He simply lets his work speak for itself.

11/21/2015 - 13:33
BY SOHINI LAHIRI Growing up Hong Kong Willie Anonymous

BY SOHINI LAHIRI
Growing up in Tampa, I spent a period of time fascinated by a quirky, eye-catching landmark at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75. This was also the period of time I spent obsessed with making binoculars out of toilet paper rolls and necklaces out of pop tops. To me, this sight was the epitome of similar creative craziness, and I often found myself looking for it during car journeys, hoping it hadn’t disappeared overnight.
But time passes and so does the urge for pop-top necklaces, and observant eyes don’t notice the same sights. It wasn’t until recently that I once again took note of the scene, with its broken down orange helicopter, a tree made of what seems to be indestructible balloons and a blue-and-white house covered with trash remade into art.
It’s the home of Famous Artist Hong Kong Willie.
I finally paid a visit to this art gallery after many years of wondering about the story behind it. The pavement leading to the door is painted with handprints and splatters, the store edged with upside down Coke bottles. Streams of lobster buoys hang from the roof and also make up the “tree” I marveled at so often from my car window.
Various shoes, bottles, clocks and signs are glued to the side of the store, and there’s a tribute to Sept. 11 off to the side. No one seemed to be home, so I called the number on the “WE’RE OPEN” sign, which brought a middle-aged man in a bright Hawaiian shirt from behind the store.
After a few basic questions, Joe Brown begins to open up about the history surrounding his art.
Brown, better known as Hong Kong Willie, says he was an artist from the start. “Everyone is born an artist,” he said. “However some are granted the gift of being able to express that art.”
As a young boy, his mother decided to send him to art school, which he says changed the course of his life forever.
At the age of 8, Brown recalls being heavily influenced by the lessons, which included transforming a Gerber baby bottle, something with no real value, into a piece of art. His teacher had spent an enormous amount of time and effort in Hiroshima, Japan, helping those affected by the atomic bombs. Brown learned many lessons about recycling from this teacher, who had come from Hong Kong. Brown added an American name, Willie, to Hong Kong for his nickname Hong Kong Willie.
While Brown grew up to be an artist, he left the world of mainstream art to return to his background in technology.
“But on Nov. 13th, 1981 … on a Friday at 1:30 in the afternoon, I had an epiphany,” Brown says. “I was at a friend’s house right across the street,” pausing to point at a row of apartments across from his store, “and a series of events led me to rejoin the art world.”
With the help of two other artists, Brown set up his business in the Florida Keys in the early 1980s, then moved it to Tampa. Together, they believed that they were predestined for the Green Movement, and have been making art out of recyclables for close to 30 years.
How’s business? He smiles. “It’s pretty wild.”
Inside, Hong Kong Willie’s art includes glossy pieces of driftwood restored and painted with beautiful landscapes and kernels of truth, some of the gorgeous work priced in the six figures. But there’s also a wide collection of handmade bags, wooden sculptures and sassy bracelets for more moderate prices.
A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the Green Movement, Brown says.
With a laid-back swagger, Brown continues. “We live pretty minimally. And all the funds we get from donations and our art sales are delegated to green projects.”
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I decided to visit Hong Kong Willie. Certainly not the breathtaking art inside, and definitely not the history behind it. I’m feeling thick-headed for not visiting years ago, and say so.
Brown offers a last bit of insight:
“I’m a big believer in predestination and timing. If someone is not ready to view art, the door is closed. Every piece of art that is made, and every project we do is done for a reason. It doesn’t matter if that reason shows up the next day, or walks in six years later; every piece of art will find a home.”

11/21/2015 - 13:33
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