Project Orange is an idea I embraced some time ago. Working to create cool products and projects that others could use, always open sourcing some of the work, always making sure to give a bit back from each completed project.
Getting employers to let-go of non-industry specific code isn't nearly as difficult as one might think. To the average client you, the developer, are a magician. They're trusting you with their process, their product, a new aspect of their business. Inspire confidence and trust. It's worked fairly well.
'orange code' has some good stuff. Each item will take you to a demo or tutorial and a download link.