For the Train and Amtrak and GOOD DESIGN fans out there!

Shameless self-promotion of the non-profit for which I am Board Chair.

People for Urban Progress has been working with Amtrak over the last few months - in secret - to develop a line of bags that re-use the seat covers from their first class trains. I'm very excited to be able to announce that the product is now public!

PUP was founded when we salvaged 13 acres of air-supported canvas roof from the RCA Dome as it was being demolished. We used the roof fabric to make bags, which we sell to fund urban design initiatives in Indianapolis. Over the last decade we've become known as the "re-use non-profit" in Indy. The Amtrak project is our step into national attention, as we know Amtrak is much more popular on the coasts.

Primary to our goals as a non-profit: we pay our designers to do good design on these bags. We pay our stitchers to hand make them well right here in Indianapolis.

Watch the video and see our process.

And consider a one-of-a-kind piece of train history, and good design, as a holiday gift for the people you love.

(Also: we interviewed PUP's founder Michael Bricker, MArch UT, on the Sessions podcast awhile back...

(Edited to add better quality images - sorry the first ones sucked!)

Oct 17, 18 10:51 am

Also, to forestall any "Ewww how many butts have sat on those bags?!" comments: the leather has all been dry-cleaned prior to sewing. I get it, my sense of humor is that of a 12-year-old, too. ;-)

Oct 17, 18 10:58 am  · 

pretty cool 

Oct 17, 18 7:40 pm  · 

Really cool initiative Donna, as was the previous re-use project. 

Will the bags come 2 months late and cost 3x what a normal bag costs? I'm just wondering how true you are being to the "Amtrak" theme...

Oct 17, 18 8:13 pm  · 

So many double rub jokes. Such a cool thing.

Just bought a tote. Great gift, thanks!

Oct 17, 18 8:17 pm  · 

+++++ Way to go, Donna!

Oct 17, 18 8:38 pm  · 

I love the non-profit and the look of the bags.  But I spent a few years commuting to teaching jobs on Amtrak in my younger days, and can't get myself to be ok with recycled train seats, even after dry cleaning.  It's not so much all the butts that have sat on those seat covers - or the spilled foods and fluids.  It's more about all the mice I saw on the trains.  Rationally I can concede that there's just as much if not more chance that mice were living in the warehouses where the materials were stored that were used to create any of my bags or other possessions.  But, it's more the memories of late-night train rides home, with dim lighting and sleeping commuters - and mice running sideways along the walls and over the tops of seats.

Oct 17, 18 9:46 pm  · 

Very nice work, Donna.

And I love the blue, too!

Oct 18, 18 12:57 am  · 
Thanks everyone for looking (and buying - thx SneakyPete!)! I’m so proud of how much work our people have put into this project.

Part of how I feel PUP has been very successful as a design non-profit is by forcing ourselves into the materials stream: after we salvaged 5 miles of Super Bowl banners from the NFL, they implemented a program whereby host cities of NFL events need to have a reuse plan in place for their banners. We also work with local entities like the Indianapolis Speedway to help them order banner material that *can* be reused so they can pass it along to us rather than toss it. With Amtrak they were throwing the seats away anyway, so we just stepped into an existing process and extracted value.

There has to be a way that ARCHITECTS can do this in the construction and real estate process, right?!? We need to figure it out, and not in a self-serving middleman consultant/PM way, but in a way that fundamentally changes a process that makes tons of money for others to be less wasteful, more sustainable, and more beautiful.
Oct 18, 18 8:32 am  · 

I have questions and ideas, more offline...

Oct 18, 18 8:38 am  · 
Non Sequitur

I really like the duffel bag but I don't like white and I don't need a duffel bag. Would be nice to carry the toddler's stuff around tho.

Oct 18, 18 12:01 pm  · 

Very cool! I'm putting this on my Christmas List (then probably buying one for myself after Christmas)

Oct 18, 18 11:38 am  · 

Remember to not put the bag on the seat next to you while on the train - you might not find it back again.

Oct 18, 18 2:45 pm  · 

PUP in the news, some info on our process and vision with these bags. They are selling quickly! Over 3/4 of our first run are sold. 


Nov 3, 18 12:58 pm  · 

Ours was delivered last week. It's FANTASTIC. We're gifting it to relatives who are from Indianapolis AND love Amtrak.

Nov 5, 18 11:42 am  · 

v cool!

Nov 6, 18 8:08 pm  · 

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