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Marlene Stidham’s recycled crafts draw fresh raves.


Etsy crafter It’s everything I love about Etsy: Recycling-savvy, trendy and cheeky, Marlene Stidham of Island Girlz Jewelry taps into my pleasure center and runs amok. A onewoman production, she specializes in staying on top of the latest and greatest trends in pop culture through her line of jewelry, keychains, bags and accessories. Want to rock a Justin Beiber charm bracelet? Don’t have your Dumbledore’s Army key chain yet? Or maybe you never lost your rabid devotion for Elvis. Whatever your bliss, Marlene’s got you covered. Using recycled objects from thrift stores or scrap heaps, Stidham makes over-the-top bling from Scrabble tiles, rubber tires, cigar boxes, soda cans, paper bags and more unlikely bits. She calls it “Fashion with a Conscience,” and being green never looked so good. Putting her money where her mouth is, she’s also led multiple fundraisers for environmental causes. Additionally, she’s an active leader in the Vegas Etsy team, Handmade in Vegas (disclosure: I’m team captain), and is quick to share her advice and enthusiasm for greener living. — Sarah Flake She should know: Sarah Flake is the creator of an abnormal plush toy line called Flaky Friends ( and is also the captain of Vegas’ first and only Etsy team, Handmade in Vegas, which incorporates more than 250 local Etsy sellers.

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Political activist Little more than two years ago, Derek Washington was an unknown. Then the ReviewJournal minted a star with its front-page feature chronicling the openly gay, HIV-positive black man’s struggle to afford his trip to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, for which he had been elected a Hillary Clinton delegate. He got to go and returned to help Obama win, but Election Night brought a confusing mélange of glee and devastation when Obama’s triumph was sullied by the passage in California of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage. By early 2009, Washington took control of Stonewall Democrats, a heretofore sleepy gay group

best known in Nevada for hosting genteel meet-andgreet coffees with legislators and candidates. Under Derek, it started doing what real activist groups do: agitate and organize. Derek’s assets can also be his liabilities — he’s frequently combative, persistent, irritating, vainglorious and inappropriate — but he’s undeniably effective. Proof? How about the astonishing, improbable fact that U.S. Sen. John Ensign was one of eight GOP senators to vote for repeal of the ban on gays serving opening in the military? We don’t know what specifically pushed Ensign to favor repeal, but most Vegas progressives — and pundits! — figured it was a waste of time to even try him. Washington and his posse called and visited Ensign’s offices incessantly leading up to the vote. Perhaps they succeeded because they didn’t know they should have failed. — Steve Friess

Place to take your kids and maintain your hipster dad cred You love your wife. But when she comes at you with, “Let’s take the kids to Springs Preserve today!” for, like, the hundredth time, don’t you want to reclaim your ecologically insensitive testes? Also, what if you need to hit Lowe’s and only have a small window of opportunity for entertaining the little beasts? One place that’s fun, free (to look) and won’t take all afternoon is La Joya Auto Sales at 2520 Fremont St. just off Charleston. The lot is a slice of muscle car heaven, from the 1972 Dodge Challenger (swap stick) to the 1968 Plymouth GTX (power disc brakes). La Joya proprietor Rick is a cool dude. Ask him nicely and he may

Who’s the valley’s best unsung bureaucrat? Bonus Former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury knows. Read his pick at

M A R L E N E S T ID H A M an d D E R E K WA S H I N G TO N : C H R I S TO P H E R S M I T H

People+Places+ Community

Profile for Nevada Public Radio

Desert Companion - February 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada

Desert Companion - February 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada