One idea relevant to the Veblen House is the Fix-It Club. The Fix-It Club concept involves rescuing stuff headed for the landfill that deserves a second life. Participants bring stuff that can be easily repaired to a workshop, and share tools, knowledge and conversation while fixing the stuff up.
On June 17, we had our first Fix-It Club meeting in my garage. Here is the "diagnostic center"--a solid oak table I rescued from the curb that's in need of a bit of glue. In the meantime, it's a handy surface for setting tools, abandoned A/C units, lamps and what have you. A Kill-a-Watt meter allowed us to measure energy use of the various items.
A couple hours of light work, expedited in particular by my neighbor Mark, who has insight into electronics, expanded our inventory of functional items to two microwaves, a mini-frig, two computer monitors and two lamps. A couple fans also turned out to work just fine, but still need cleaning. Liz and Jill came by to help out.
There is, of course, the question of how to find these items new homes. But the front side of the project--the rescuing and repairing--turns out to be straightforward and rewarding.