Stores Across L.A. Boarded Up Their Windows. A Local Group Has a Plan for All That Plywood

The California Wildlife Center is helping businesses turn a symbol of anxiety into something positive

Driving past boarded-up shop windows can feel like a visual representation of the anxiety and distress that has defined this year–from businesses shuttered due to the pandemic to, more recently, those that felt compelled to cover their windows for fear of post-election unrest. But, aside from a few isolated pro-Trump demonstrations in Beverly Hills and Huntington Beach, Election Day has now come and gone with no significant incidents in the region–and one local group is stepping in to help turn the plywood into something positive for the community.

Late last week, the California Wildlife Center put out a call to local businesses offering to come collect the boards, rather than see them go into the typical waste stream.

“Once we get the donated plywood, we plan to repurpose it to build enclosures, herding boards to work with our marine mammals, and any other animal-related projects,” says California Wildlife Center Executive Director Jennifer Brent. “We even were contacted by a group that builds shelters for food pantries that is also interested, so we plan on sharing the wood with them.”

Brent’s team pitched the repurposing idea to boarded-up businesses after finding that prices for new plywood had shot up amid pre-election hoarding, and realized it could be an opportunity for a win-win situation.

“We feel that this solution is a good one as it prevents trees from going into landfills, prevents more trees from being cut down for our use, saves us money, and can provide housing for our recovering animals,” Brent says. 

The Center is leaving the offer to collect boards open indefinitely as businesses slowly reopen. Patagonia, Jed Lind Interiors, and Safe Haven Archive are among participating retailers, as is Jenni Kayne, a fashion and decor brand with a boutique in West Hollywood.

Out of an abundance of caution, we made the difficult decision to board up our West Hollywood store last week while we awaited election results. Fortunately, the area remained peaceful, but it was disheartening to look around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills and see a sea of plywood that would undoubtedly all be headed for a landfill,” says Lauren Holmes, V.P. of Retail and Customer Service at Jenni Kayne. 

Jenni Kayne herself saw the Instagram post from the California Wildlife Center and sent it to the staff. Holmes reached out immediately, and the boards were picked up Monday morning.

It’s so great to see something positive come out of a situation like this,” Holmes says. “We love how forward thinking California Wildlife Center was to react and implement this program so seamlessly.”

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