Once carried by truck, now carried by hand: tarpaulins turned into bags

Respect, diversity and openness are promoted every year on the Daimler Pride Tour, including the German Christopher Street Days. But what remains apart from confetti and memories of the event? An upcycling campaign captures the feeling of togetherness and the message advocating greater tolerance: the tarpaulins from the Daimler Pride Truck are transformed into brightly colored bags. Nicole Smit from the Global Diversity Office accompanied the tarpaulins on their journey.

One of Nicole Smit's roles in the Office is being project leader for the global Daimler Pride Tour. "2019 was a special tour for me. In Europe alone we took part in six Pride parades – including in Stuttgart. The atmosphere was indescribable", she explains. Back in the office she couldn't get one thing out of her mind: "How can we convey this feeling of togetherness beyond the Daimler Pride Tour? And what happens to the truck tarpaulins?" The spirit that people associate with the tour should not just be a memory, it needs to live on. The idea: to turn the tarpaulins from the Daimler Pride Truck into bags that keep the spirit alive. Instead of finishing up in the garbage, the tarpaulins are given a second life as bags that carry a message.

The confetti hearts are not the only things left over from the Daimler Pride Tour.

The tarpaulins' journey

Nicole Smit sets off for Windhagen on a rainy Tuesday morning. This is where the Daimler Pride Truck's tarpaulins are stored before the sewing team gets to work.

Nicole Smit spreads out the tarpaulins from the Daimler Pride Truck.

Together with her colleagues, Smit starts removing the last remnants of confetti from the tarpaulins, unsticking the crepe tape, and cutting the tarpaulins to shape. They are then piled high in a car for the next stage of their journey.

Next stop: Bruchsal-Bretten. This is where Christian Tschürtz collaborates on the "COMEBAGS" project with charity organization "Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten e. V." "I'm actually a trained and freelance graphic designer," says Tschürtz. "I always feel a bit sick when my work ends up in the garbage after the end of a campaign." He therefore got together with the "Lebenshilfe" organization in 2012 to realize his idea of turning old advertising banners, designed by him, into bags.

Hand-over of the tarpaulins to Christian Tschürtz at COMEBAGS.

Today Christian Tschürtz is waiting for Nicole Smit outside theworkshops of the non-profit association Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten e. V. This time he is expecting a delivery of brightly colored tarpaulins from the Daimler Pride Truck rather than the usual advertising banners. Dawn is already breaking by the time Nicole Smit sets off on the journey home to Stuttgart, while the tarpaulins move on to the first stage of the bag-making process.

“Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten" has around 1200 people working for it, including 870 with mental or psychological disabilities. Around 30 members of the team make bags in the textile workshop (more information about "Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten e.V." is available on their website www.lebenshilfe-bruchsal.de).

Each bag is a unicum

A week later, she returns to the Lebenshilfe site in Bruchsal to take a look at the production. Department head Uwe Hillenmaier and Christian Tschürtz show Nicole Smit the textile workshop. As the employees are still on their lunch break, Nicole Smit uses the time to find out more about the textile work. The head of department explains that all those who work here are assigned to the area that best suits their skills and makes them most happy. "There's something really special about the work in our workshops. We see our employees as customers, so we never take on too many jobs. But that doesn't mean we are idle here. When COMEBAGS started up, we produced 50 bags per month, now we make up to 2000", he states proudly.

Uwe Hillenmaier, department head of the Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten textile workshop, Manuela Dresel and Heike Miltenberger, both team leaders of the Lebenshilfe Bruchsal-Bretten textile workshop (from left to right).

The bell rings to signal the end of the lunch break. Within seconds the production hall is full of life. The sewing machines start to rattle. Nicole Smit and Christian Tschürtz roll up their sleeves, too.

Firstly the individual stamped parts are cleaned, and the last bits of stubborn dirt are removed. While this is going on, the Lebenshilfe employees explain that work in the textile workshop is a lot of fun because the patterns and colors of the advertising banners and truck tarpaulins change all the time. The rainbow colors are particularly well received here. One thing is crystal clear: Each bag will be a one-off.

Today Nicole Smit and Christian Tschürtz are helping the "Lebenshilfe..." team.

For the next step in the process, the textiles move on to the workshop's sewing area. Each sewing machine has a specific task: One station sews the seams, while another attaches carry straps. The bags slowly take shape. Once all the stray threads have been removed the bags get the finishing touch: a brochure explaining what the COMEBAGS project does is placed inside each bag.

Daimler Pride in the bags

"The enthusiasm the Lebenshilfe employees have for their work reminded me of the atmosphere on our Daimler Pride Truck", explains Nicole Smit. This bag contains a lot of the spirit from the Daimler Pride Tour: "'Everybody's different. All are equal.' We are all about recognizing diversity and cherishing people for who they are. Here at the Lebenshilfe, everybody can contribute with their own skills. And each and every one of them is proud of this." An attitude which will endure long after the Daimler Pride Parade – and a bag with a special brief: We carry diversity!

Each bag is a unicum.

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