ReBuilding Center Gift Guide

Are you looking for gift ideas? Is someone you know interested in building, DIY, or have a passion for sustainability or community building? This holiday season, get your special someone a gift that will keep giving, something that promotes reuse and self-sufficiency. Instead of buying new things that take more energy and resources to create, help divert materials from the waste stream with gift certificates to the ReBuilding Center Store and ReFind Education Program, or use reclaimed materials to create a handmade gift!



The ReBuilding Center offers gift certificates for all your building, crafting, and creative needs. Whether your special person needs old-growth lumber, hardware, a vintage door, or seating salvaged from an old Portland Theater, RBC has a large and ever-changing stock of Pacific Northwest history. Available for any amount $5+. Stop in the store on N. Mississippi Avenue today to get yours!

Woodward-ReBuilding Center-022.JPG

ReFind Classes Gift Certificate

The ReBuilding Center offers classes like "Intro to Carpentry for Women: Tables & Benches," "Intro to Electrical for Homeowners," and "Tablesaw Bootcamp," providing hands-on building skills on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials. Certificates range from $30-$100 depending on the class. For a full list of available classes check out our website.

Or get crafty and make your own presents this year

Here are some creative reuse ideas utilizing salvaged building materials you can find at the ReBuilding Center:

door .jpg

Door Tree Hall Bench

Photo credit: LG Custom Woodworking


box shelf.jpg

Reclaimed Wood Boxshelf

Photo credit: ReclaimedTrends

shutter book shelf.jpg

Shutter Bookshelf

Photo credit: SweetiesAttic 

"I Work To Feel That I Belong," Words of a Day Laborer

For many, “work” is simply a place to go and spend one’s time in exchange for their livelihood (read: money to pay the rent). We go, we put in some effort, and we receive payment. And that is completely fine. But for others, including many here at the ReBuilding Center, I am certain that “work” carries a deeper value.

And we’re certainly not alone. Recently, a worker-led organization in Portland, “Voz," partnered with local artist, Thea Gahr, to paint a mural on one of the Rebuilding Center’s street-facing walls. Maybe you’ve seen, walking by our front donation area, a beautiful black and white mural of a man working and the words: “I work to feel that I belong.”

A simple statement to some, perhaps but a brief moment standing before the mural is all you need to realize its artful message of belief, determination, and grit. 

The mural was created in collaboration with Voz Workers' Rights Education Project and MLK Workers Center, an organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working conditions. One of those day laborers is Jose Gonzalez. He is the man in the mural and the quotation above him is his own. 

Patricia Vasquez, who organized this project, explained to us that Voz connects hundreds of workers each month with local employers, and that it’s “critical to the day labor movement in Oregon [because it] offers a safe space for workers to build community, participate in trainings that increase employability, and organize themselves towards ending exploitation, discrimination and wage theft.”

mural 6.JPG

Many of the workers at the Voz MLK Workers Center, like Jose, take pride in their abilities to paint. Therefore, as Patricia explained, it made sense to paint murals to depict the lives and realities of real day-laborers.

mural 5.JPG

Patricia and the team felt it was appropriate to partner with the ReBuilding Center on this mural because many who come to purchase materials are contractors and many contractors rely on the skill and experience of day laborers. She felt that the ReBuilding Center and Voz were two organizations with related missions and that this project would be a great collaboration. We couldn’t agree more.

On the right-hand side of the mural of Jose is a short biography about his life. It shares about the skills he’s attained while working as a day laborer in Oregon over the past fifteen years. Beneath that it talks about why painting as an art form is so important to him. Without putting words in his mouth, I wonder if for Jose, “work” here could refer to his paintings as much as it could his day-laboring. If so, then “I work to feel that I belong” carries a whole new meaning. Work becomes about contributing to something bigger, about skill, mastery, and passion, and about one’s own community. 

Volunteers needed for Inventory Shifts & Pizza Party!

Sign up to help out with ReBuilding Center's 2nd Annual INVENTORY!

Woodward-ReBuilding Center-057.JPG

Rummage through 53,000 square feet of Portland history while we treat you to coffee, donuts, and the best of Mo-Town. Pizza will be brought in for lunch—be sure to let us know of any dietary needs so we can be sure to feed you right!


There are morning, afternoon, and all-day shifts available!

If you would like to volunteer to help us with inventory you can sign up by:

  1. Signing in through your volunteer portal to get on the roster. >
  2. Or emailing Dave Lowe, Volunteer Services Manager, at >

Shifts available: 

January 1st, 2018
Prep Shift:

Team up with our management staff to tag all the areas of the store, put some chalk markings on the floor, prepare clipboards, and all the fun things. We know it's a holiday, which is why the pizza will be extra tasty for this shift.

January 2nd, 2018   
10am-2pm; 2-6pm; OR 10am-6pm
Counter Shift:

Exactly what it sounds like. Count the things, write down a number, and voila!

January 2nd, 2018
9:30am - 1:30pm; 1:30pm - 5:30pm
Area lead Shift:

You'll be assigned to an area of the ReBuilding Center to make sure everyone has enough inventory sheets, helpers, good vibes, etc. You'll also help with getting the food for the day from our local vendors. You'll make sure that any completed inventory sheets make their way to "Inventory HQ"!

Woodward-ReBuilding Center-030.JPG

All shifts take place at the ReBuilding Center at 3625 N Mississippi Ave.

Meet the ReBuilding Center's New Interim Executive Director, Alison Dennis

The ReBuilding Center is excited to announce Alison Dennis as our new interim Executive Director. Alison has worked to help numerous organizations, teams, and individuals realize their missions and achieve their goals. She has done this serving as an interim executive director, consultant, or as a teacher at colleges and universities. Her focus on strategy, leadership, and collective action makes her a wonderful fit for this position. She is a graduate of Bennington College and holds an MBA from Portland State University.


So what was the ReBuilding Center looking for in their new executive director? Kelly Stevens, the Administrative Services Manager at the ReBuilding Center, says some of the characteristics were "a demonstrated passion for our mission, a deep commitment to transparency, a collaborative leader with a record of success in nonprofit and business sectors, a willingness to learn from everyone, the ability to connect and communicate with a broad and diverse spectrum of people, and someone who can be very focused on our work but not be afraid to have a ton of fun with the team while doing it!” She also remarked, “Alison brings a wealth of care, nonprofit experience, and business savvy to the interim ED position, with a passion for work that has a social and environmental impact.” 

Alison herself has stated “I’ll be, in as many ways as I can, helping everyone who is a part of the ReBuilding Center ask and answer questions in a collective and collaborative way.” Her mission is clear and she is very optimistic, “everyone within this community has been so warm and welcoming. Not only that but they are also a community of doers, people who not only talk about change but also roll up their sleeves and get things done and I’m excited be working alongside new colleagues that are doers."

A little fun stuff about Alison: In 2004, she and her husband eloped and took a year off to travel, visiting 27 countries across six continents in 365 days. (Her engagement ring was an onion ring.) Alison ran and finished her 12th Portland Marathon this past October, and loves how it feels when thousands of people all run in the same direction together at the same time. She also loves visiting her parents in Ashland, Oregon, where she likes watching horror movies with her dad and seeing as many plays as she can each season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Alison has lived in North Portland’s Arbor Lodge neighborhood since 1995.

Students Expand Juice Box Project to Bring Even More Light & Power to the Houseless


We reported back in March on the "Juice Box Project,” a student-led effort from Catlin Gabel School to provide light and power to the interiors of the tiny houses that have recently been created to help accommodate Portland’s houseless population.  New tiny house clusters are being developed as alternatives to the tent camp model exemplified by the R2D2 (Right to Dream Too), formerly located off Burnside at the entrance to Chinatown. Tiny houses afford the residents more agency and the Juice Box Project aims to help them claim even more self-sufficiency.

What do Juice boxes do?

unnamed (5).jpg

The ReBuilding Center has played host to work parties as well as materials to build the Juice Boxes which are rectangular, gray metal unit containing two large LED lights, a USB plug, and a charging outlet. They are powered by heavy-duty batteries that get charged by solar panels on the outside of the houses. When fully charged, the battery can run up to four hours per night for seven nights straight!  Andy Olshin, a long-time advocate for houseless and tiny house communities, told us the communities could be net energy producers in the summer! With the sun setting at 4:30 p.m. here in Portland in the winter, the boxes provide light to read by, juice for cell phone to be able to make important phone calls, and electrical charge for small appliances for self-care.

Photo of students building Juicebox at the ReBuilding Center - photo credit: Hollywood Star

Photo of students building Juicebox at the ReBuilding Center - photo credit: Hollywood Star

Big Moves Are being Made by High School Students

unnamed (4).jpg

To date, expanded efforts from Benson High School and Catlin Gabel School students have brought 70 Juice Boxes to the following houseless encampments: Hazelnut Grove, Dignity Village, Kenton Women’s Village, Bishop Simm’s Houseless Village, and Right 2 Dream Too.  These machines have been fabricated with funding from the Lexus EcoChallenge, Lloyd EcoDistrict, eBay, the ReBuilding Center, and many other supporters and private sponsors. 

Next Steps

The students are aiming to complete 100 Juice Boxes by the end of 2017.  Each Juice Box costs around $350 to build.  To underwrite the cost, the students from the Caitlin School are asking for donations.  Hopefully they will meet their goal and help light up every houseless group. If you would like to help support this project or learn more click the link below:

Decon+Reuse'17: And the Award Goes to...


This year, to the delight of deconstruction and reuse enthusiasts, the Chicago-based nonprofit, Building Materials Reuse Association (BRMA), hosted their annual conference in Portland, Oregon—the first city in the nation to pass a deconstruction ordinance. People from around the globe gathered at the Smith Memorial at Portland State University for the two-day conference with "several presentations [...] relat[ing] to the recent development of a Portland city ordinance requiring deconstruction and salvage of materials during [the] removal of pre-1917 homes" discussing, "the development of the ordinance, the economics of deconstruction in Portland, growth of new deconstruction operations and reuse stores, and BMRA training of contractors and deconstruction workers."

unnamed copy.jpg

The ReBuilding Center played host to the opening reception where attendees got to sample our special release Lumber Lager from Stormbreaker Brewing. 


There were eight awards presented at the DeCon+Reuse’17 closing reception at EcoTrust and the ReBuilding Center was proud to receive two of those honors! Read how the BMRA recognizes our team for innovation and equity in the field:

Award for Excellence in Innovation in the Fields of Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse

Doug has led the ReBuilding Center’s Deconstruction Services for the last 9 years.  What is really remarkable is that Doug has done it all essentially by himself. He started at the ReBuilding Center as the Great Recession hit - and as a result, he has been manager, assistant manager, sales manager, and chief  bottle washer almost since the day he was hired. He has built extraordinary relationships across the City and has helped to ease the pathway forward for deconstruction amongst developers who hold Doug in such high regard.  

Award for Advancing Equity in the Field of Deconstruction and Building Materials Reuse

Stephen Reichard and the ReBuilding Center are being recognized for their organizations multi-faceted commitment to creating equity.  Since their beginning nearly 20 years ago, the ReBuilding Center has always been about building community in North and Northeast Portland.  Stephens background in social justice helped the organization double down its commitment to equity and building community

This takes many forms, including:

  • From stuff like making free building materials available to hundreds of community projects each year
  • Recruiting staff and board members that increase the diversity of the ReBuilding Center
  • Providing Organizational support to other grassroots groups:  Such as the Black Williams project and The North/Northeast STEAM Coalition which both benefit African American communities in Portland’s North/Northeast Corridor.   And The Village Coalition which represents Portland’s houseless community, helping them organize to be able to better advocate for safe camps.
  • A short workforce development story:  Stephen saw a need to provide stipends for the deconstruction workforce skills training participants. It was asking a lot for many of the students to take part in a two and a half week class with no paycheck coming in.  Stephen successfully lobbied Metro and Portland PBS to chip in to provide stipends to the students to help out with child care, transportation, and living expenses.  That helped students stay focused on the class and be more successful.

2017 BMRA Awards

2017 BMRA Award for Excellence in Innovation in the Fields of Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse
Der Lovett, Lovett Deconstruction

2017 BMRA Award for Excellence in Innovation in the Fields of Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse
Douglas Lichter, ReBuilding Center 

2017 BMRA Award for Excellence in Building Material Reuse Industry Promotion and Service
Jim Schulman, Alliance for Regional Cooperation

2017 BMRA Award for Excellence in Building Material Reuse Industry Promotion and Service
Shawn Wood, City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

2017 BMRA Award for Exceptional Educational, Academic or Training Activities Related to Deconstruction and Building Materials Reuse
Sara Badiali, Reclamation Administration

2017 BMRA Award for Exceptional Educational, Academic or Training Activities Related to Deconstruction and Building Materials Reuse
Dave Bennink, Reuse Consulting

2017 BMRA Award for Advancing Equity in the Field of Deconstruction and Building Materials Reuse
Alisa Kane, City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

2017 BMRA Award for Advancing Equity in the Field of Deconstruction and Building Materials Reuse
Stephen Reichard, ReBuilding Center

Finally, an appreciation for Anne Nicklin's 10 years of service to the BMRA was offered as she steps down in the next couple of months from the Executive Director position.

The Dropbox Derby: Overnight Sensation

Move over World Naked Bike Ride; back of the line Pickathon and Bridge Pedal; take a backseat Sunday Parkways. There’s a new sheriff in town. Or at least a new, instant classic Portland street event.

The first – of what must absolutely be – annual DropBox Derby took place on Saturday, September 30 at Lovett Deconstruction. Fourteen teams, four hours, a supply of identical salvage materials to each team, and a vague concept – Bridge House. Throw in a little beer and a little cider and we have the start of what will soon be a Portland event institution.

The brainchild of deconstruction entrepreneur Der Lovett, and former ReBuilding Center employee, Dropox Derby is a one-day design and build competition using salvage materials. Participatants included Team Curry from Owen Gabbert, Siteworks Design-Build, Splintered Fingers from Clarkbuilt, Inc, Team RBC from The ReBuilding Center, Revive Upholstery & Design, Festering Splinters from Salvage Works, Team Silver Fern, Red Rooster Remodeling, Metalwood Salvage, Plan B Salvation, If you build it they will come from deform, Team Compound, Mightier Miter from CarpentryPDX, and Team Decon from Lovett Deconstruction.

The event took place during the Portland ReUse for Societal Transformation: A Week of Neighborhood ReUse.

The Rebuilding Center Team. Photo Source

The Rebuilding Center Team. Photo Source

Sponsors included Heiberg Garbage & Recycling, Voodoo Donuts, and Umpqua Bank. Cider Riot served up pints and Aybla served up authentic and delicious Mediterranean cuisine, while the Ukaladies and a Mariachi Band performed. Even though we didn’t take home the win this year, we are thrilled to be part of this event, and excited to try again next year. The first prize went to Team Silver Fern for their inspiring interpretation of a Bridge House, second prize went to Clarkbuilt Splintered Fingers and third to Siteworks.

We spoke with Der at Lovett Deconstruction to see how they felt after the event and where they saw it going in the future:

Whose idea was it to have the derby?   

I had this idea some years back then last year I pitched it to the Lovett Deconstruction team and we decided to make it happen this year. And so we did.

What was your vision for the event?  

My vision was to have a fun event where crafts people got to make cool stuff with reclaimed materials. I kept imagining tons of tiny structures like architectural models, built from beautiful wood that normally gets thrown away.

What was your impression of the day?

I loved the idea and our team loved the idea but we weren't totally sure how people would respond. As it turned out it was quite clear that all participants and spectators loved it just as much as we did.

What were some of the things you felt made the event such a success?

The vibe! The energy! I lost count of the number of times people told me they couldn't believe this event didn't exist already. And of course everyone said “This is so Portland!” The builders, the makers, the carpenters all said they had been looking for something like this. One carpenter said “chefs get to compete all the time and show their creativity. Now at long last we carpenters get an opportunity!

What are your plans for the future?

This is just the beginning. The plan is to host this event each year and for it to become not just an ever present on the Portland Events Calendar but one of the most anticipated events of the year. We learned so much this time round. We are already starting to plan for next year. I think every entrant on Saturday said "sign us up for next year" as did many visitors. We're hoping to see it grow, and for us to build community around it as well as raise monies for some well deserving organizations. We raised $2300 on Saturday for Sisters of the Road Cafe.

So it looks like we can expect the Dropbox Derby to be an annual event during PDX Rust's Portland ReUse for Societal Transformation: A Week of Neighborhood ReUse Events. Further information on the events during that week can be found here. For more information on Sisters of the Road Café or how to donate to their cause visit their website.





Treasure Hunting with Nathan Fasold, Owner of Black Book Guitars

If you are looking for renovation inspiration, head on over to our awesome neighbors at Black Book Guitars. The five-year-old music shop specializes in vintage and rare guitars and is now expanding into Chloe Eudaly’s old shop, the Reading Frenzy, in order to house more gems for music lovers. You can often find the curly-haired treasure-hunter at the ReBuilding Center, rifling through the lumberyard finding materials to help house his renovated instruments.

Finding the beauty and value in reclaimed materials must come naturally to the Black Book Guitars owner, Nathan Fasold. I got a tour of the renovation project from Nathan and along the way learned a great deal about craftsmanship. This isn't just any music shop; with a walk around the store, you might see guitars from Modest Mouse, Elliot Smith, Kurt Cobain, R.E.M., and memorabilia from Willie Nelson. Nathan's father was a treasure-hunter in Key West before the family moved to Oregon, and perhaps Nathan was destined to be a source of recovering and reinventing works of art. 


“The wear marks of its former owner that show how they played the instrument, it reveals the habits and preferences of the musician, the type of wood, the smell.”

Nathan loves to go exploring across the street at ReBuilding Center and has an impressive collection of repurposed materials in his store. An extra tall former kitchen dish cabinet is now a display holder for his vintage amps. A bar counter from an old brewery is a workbench for their amp technician. Old PDX airport signs will become part of the display in the new space. A shelf for holding guitar cases utilizes old doors to make levels. 



I got to hold some of these vintage guitars, hear about their stories, travels, and feel the colorful lives that have moved through these instruments. Much like the folks at Black Book Guitars, at the ReBuilding Center, we believe in reuse as a way of life and in supporting sustainability, creativity, and of course community. Congratulations to Black Book Guitars on their amazing new space! Its opening this week, so go and check it out.

ReBuilding Center bids Farewell to Stephen Reichard

Stephen Reichard.jpg

It is with a mix of sadness and appreciation that the Board of Directors announces Stephen Reichard’s departure as Executive Director of the ReBuilding Center, as of October 3, 2017. Since 2015, Stephen has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization, and while we will miss him and his enthusiasm for the organization and our community, we wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors.

After 20 successful years, the Rebuilding Center has many exciting opportunities for growth and development. The board wants to take a measured approach to evaluating these opportunities and to work in collaboration with staff, our community, and other external stakeholders to decide in which initiatives we should invest. This collaborative and consultative process will take time, but we believe strongly that it is important to develop a robust, shared vision for the organization’s next 20 years.

matt_wiater_2010 013.jpg

Over the next few months, the board will collaborate with staff to identify the best leadership structure for the ReBuilding Center, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization. The board and staff are committed to the ReBuilding Center’s customers, partners and supporters. We look forward to charting a future path for our organization that meets our goals of creating community that is connected, inclusive, and sustainable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Board Chair Cary Stacey at or 503.200.4945.

Volunteers from Around the World Discover the Power of Reuse 


The ReBuilding Center was happy to welcome the Student Leaders Program (SLP) as a part of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at Portland State University (PSU). The Middle East Partnership Initiative consists of international students visiting from the Middle East and North Africa to participate in a five to seven-week Civic Engagement and Community Leadership Program.


For three days in July, the international student group spent time helping out as volunteers and learning all about the mission of the ReBuilding Center. Students were given a tour and then jumped in and assisted with projects and even visited a deconstruction site at Grant High School. They were able to put their hands to work as they learned about conservation, sustainability, and reuse. The student group had a fantastic experience volunteering and sent this lovely note of gratitude to
David Lowe, Volunteer Services and Education Manager. 

"The students from the Middle East Partnership Initiative really
enjoyed their time with you all at the ReBuilding Center last week.
The entire experience was very meaningful, and really helped frame their time in the U.S. and for talking about conditions in their own communities. The visit to the deconstruction of Grant High School was also very special, and I really appreciate you accommodating this. I wanted to give a sincere THANK YOU for all your work in arranging this experience."
-Laura Lyons, Program Assistant, Student Leaders Program, PSU

Thank you Laura and all the amazing SLP group for your good work and help building community through reuse!

Cute Cat Story Alert: Family Builds New Kitty Tower Out of Grant High School Materials


Did you know that #catdrawer is a thing online? It goes to show that cats love snuggling into confined spaces! Sara Eddie and her family were getting a new kitten and decided to get ahead of the game. Sara’s husband, Bill, built a cat tree out of drawers from the Grant High School science lab and some lumber from the ReBuilding Center.

unnamed (1).jpg

The inspiration came after Sara dropped off the adoption paperwork with the kitten's foster family and while perusing the ReBuilding Center, spotted a chair that looked very familiar. Their now college-aged daughter, who graduated from Grant, did many singing performances in the high school's auditorium and Sara and Bill had sat in those same chairs. This lead to some creative thinking about all the items salvaged from the Grant High School deconstruction project and the cat drawer tree idea was born.
How lucky is this new kitten to benefit from the loving inspiration of its new family and the resources at the ReBuilding Center.

Rose City to Host National Conference on Deconstruction & Reuse


Portland has been chosen as the host city for this year’s Decon+Reuse’17 Conference, "a one of a kind meeting of deconstruction and reuse practitioners from around the world." The Chicago based non-profit, Building Materials Reuse Association (BRMA) is holding their annual conference in the Smith Memorial Union at Portland State University September 25th-27th. There are a number of interesting topics being covered over this three day stretch including talks from keynote speakers, Adam Minter on "Waste Doesn't Slide Downhill: Travels in a New World of Recycling and Re-Use,"and Jim Lindberg on "The Atlas of ReUrbanism."

JimKeynote copy.jpg

Other topics covered will range from: the booming, sustainable industry of deconstruction; conservation, preservation, and development of sustainable practices and projects; the art of dumpster diving; to civic activism and reform. There is something for everyone who is interested in learning more about sustainable practices. You can register below:


The ReBuilding Center is honored to be associated with this event and will be hosting the welcoming reception on Sunday, September 24th. This eventis not open the public, so make sure you register if you would like to enjoy the festivities, fine food, and beverages that will be offered, including a specially brewed beer from Stormbreaker Brewing just for us, the "ReLogger," to whet your appetite for the conference to follow.

decon and reuse 17 [print].jpg

Cheer RBC on in Design & Build Competition, "The Dropbox Derby"

The final Saturday of September will see the inaugural Dropbox Derby presented by Lovett Deconstruction and promises to be a fun filled event for all ages! Cheer on ReBuilding Center's team of Salvage Specialists!

Saturday, September 30th
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
2034 NE Sandy Blvd.

DB derby.jpg

The friendly competition is being held at the Lovett Deconstruction facility on NE Sandy Blvd.  Come watch as ten teams battle it out in the design & build challenge to create the best derby car built entirely from salvaged materials.  There will be no unfair advantages because each team will receive identical batches of materials as well predetermined parameters that each entry must follow.

Fine food and refreshments will be available through many of our delicious local food trucks.  Cider Riot, a local favorite, will be there to provide an elixir to quench thirst for the 21 & over crowd. 

In addition to all the fun and games to be had on September 30th, this event is going on to support a terrific cause.  The derby cars will be auctioned off and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Sisters of the Road Cafe, a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to serving Portland’s homeless community since 1979. 

If you are interested in helping out Sisters of the Road but cannot make it to the Derby you can show your support by donating here: 

4 DIY Ways to Utilize Reusable Materials in Your Home

Living by the main principles of sustainability and energy efficiency has become, and is still becoming, very important in modern day life. The importance of living green is stronger than ever since our environment suffers when we consume too much energy, create too much waste, and consequently pollute the air, soil, and water. One of the ways we can take care of our environment and contribute towards improving its quality, is trying to live green and making our homes more sustainable. Reduce, reuse and recycle, are the three most important principles (in that order) are the three Rs of sustainability.

When it comes to sustainable and green living, the main goal is to reduce energy consumption and pollution. This can be done in several ways by using repurposed and reusable building materials. Great amounts of energy are inevitably used in the production of new building materials, which emits a lot of pollutants into the air. By reusing materials, we decrease the need to produce new materials and lessen the impact on the environment. Materials we no longer need should be recycled, repurposed, or donated for reuse. Apart from saving invaluable resources and helping create a more sustainable environment, these practices will also save you money since it is cheaper to reuse than to buy something new!

Here are some ideas for projects using reusable material in your home.

Wooden table and chairs, Credited by Culver Center, Flickr

Wooden table and chairs, Credited by Culver Center, Flickr

Homemade Bee Hive, Credited by lehua_mc, Flickr

Homemade Bee Hive, Credited by lehua_mc, Flickr

1. Reclaimed lumber re-contextualized 

When it comes to wood there are many possibilities for reuse to create something new for your home. You can shop at the ReBuilding Center or similar salvaged lumberyard and depending on what you are searching for and what your project is going to be, you can choose your own sizes and dimensions. Re-do your own flooring or use some beautiful old growth in a custom-made furniture project. And remember when redoing your floor, make sure to recycle it if possible because the possibilities for reuse are endless!


2. Get creative with cabinets

If you have some old wooden wardrobes, cabinets, or furniture that you're looking to get rid of, give them new meaning through a creative reuse project. If those pieces of furniture have drawers, for example, you can repurpose them into little tables for your living room, patio, or garden.


3. Give an old window new life

At the ReBuilding Center, you can reusable window frames and shutters and there are many ways you can use them to turn into a DIY project. An interesting addition to your kitchen would be to turn an old window into a hanging rack for your pots and pans. Attach a firm, vintage window to the ceiling and simply add some hooks to it and you will have an innovative pot rack, and it will free up some space in your kitchen.

Old window frames can also be repurposed as photo frames. Put your favorite photos in between the frames and attach it to the wall or display it anywhere in your home.

DIY Garden flower spiral, Credited by Steve, Flickr

DIY Garden flower spiral, Credited by Steve, Flickr


4. What to do with tile by the mile

Old tiles are usually thrown away when being replaced with new ones or when they are broken, but they can definitely be repurposed. Don't throw them away! Broken and scrap tiles can be used to collage on to colorful flower pots or garden walkways for example. You can have some fun creating a mosaic, designing it in way you want, and adding a personal touch to your outdoor space. 

Many, if not the majority of the things we own can be donated to your local reuse store or reused in your own DIY project. By living more sustainably, we help improve our planet and quality of life while saving money, having fun, being creative, and contributing to a reuse economy!

This article was written by Matt, writer and editor for roofing contractors from Georgia.

Last, Last Thursday of the Summer!

This summer, the ReBuilding Center has been participating in the city’s revamped Alberta Last Thursday event with a half-block of programming, entitled “ReBuilding Center Road.” With 20,000 people patrons every month, RBC's "reuse theme park" has engaged hundreds of community members with fun and interactive activities, familiarizing people with our mission to build community through reuse! Every participant receives a “passport,” and as they move through the RBC theme park, they receive a stamp for each activity they've completed. Once someone has received three stamps, they will receive a coupon for a free slice of pizza from Mississippi Pizza.

Some of those activities include:

  • Run in the "Reuse Relay Race"
  • DeConstruct with larger-than-life Lincoln logs
  • Build your own DIY tile magnet in a mini ReFind class
  • Play giant Jenga with salvaged lumber
  • Play "ReBuilding Toss-Up" with our corn hole set
  • Spin the "Can You Donate It?" Wheel for a treat
  • Take a tour of a tiny house
  • & more!

Please join us Thursday, August 31st, 2017 at Alberta St. & 28th Ave!

2nd Annual Day of Service Stemming Displacement of Long-Term Portland Residents

Teaming up for the second annual “Day of Service” event, the ReBuilding Center (RBC), a nonprofit organization that offers affordable used building materials, with the goal of building community through reuse, and the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), a nonprofit whose mission is to increase homeownership and economic stability for African Americans and other underserved individuals, came together to provide home repairs in an effort to stem displacement of long-term residents. Last year, the Day of Service teams completed ten projects for five homeowners with the help of 36 volunteers. This year, the Day of Service doubled its efforts, completing 20 projects for 13 homeowners with more than 60 volunteers!

The Day of Service began on a bright and shining Saturday morning. Volunteers met up at the ReBuilding Center over some coffee and pastries generously provided by Grand Central Bakery before setting out on their community-building adventures. Notable groups from around Portland graciously donated their time and money to the event, including Squarespace, who provided 20 volunteers; Global Shapers, a network of young people contributing to their communities, lended an additional five volunteers; prospective and current students and alumni of Oregon Tradeswomen Inc lent helping hands; Portland Youth Builders led crews, and Wells Fargo, who not only sent ten volunteers, but also donated $10,000 to purchase supplies and materials needed for the repairs. Additional financial s upport came from the Portland Housing Bureau, who provided another $10,000 for materials. As they did last year, Rose City Disposal and Recycling provided a 30-yard drop box for debris, and you can bet there was a lot of debris! Special thanks to Mississippi Pizza who donated food, and Sierra Springs for the water, to fuel the hard-working volunteers that gave up their Saturday to help their neighbors!

It’s not just [the developer’s duty] to build responsibly but if you’re going into a neighborhood where people have lived for a long time, you should put something back into that community
— Jan, Day of Service volunteer

Repairs included exterior and interior painting, removal and repair of a rotting staircase (that allowed the resident to access her top floor for the first time in years), overgrown yard debris clean-up, demolition and re-pouring of concrete stairs, bathroom overhauls and repairs, and much more. These repairs were “not major tasks per se,” said Nathan, a volunteer, “but serve a real need for general labor… Everyone has a task list of things that you want to do and things that you can’t do whether that has to do with money, age, or ability.” Nathan went on to explain that him and his wife, Jan, give back whenever they get a chance and said “when I think about hitting that stage, I hope that there’s friends, family, or different organizations to help out.” The good Samaritan couple, who had just spent the previous day painting at their church, love to spend their time giving back to their community despite living off one income (as Jan has taken over full-time care of her mother-in-law with stage three Alzheimer’s). Jan, a long-time shopper/volunteer at the ReBuilding Center and Mississippi Avenue resident for the past 10 years, had some insight into the issue saying that it makes her sad to see the people in the area be pushed out and they are “what makes Mississippi what it is. Portland is made of unique neighborhoods and that’s why everyone wants to move here, but when you price people out, you are taking away that neighborhood-y feel.” She believes that developers and builders should respect the neighborhood that they are moving into, considering the architecture and price of the area. Having worked in property management for 30 years, Jan believes there is a way of going into a neighborhood and maintaining the character, and that it’s “not just [the developer’s duty] to build responsibly but if you’re going into a neighborhood where people have lived for a long time, you should put something back into that community.”

Certain projects, like a broken gutter system or a rotting fence, took no time at all, but made a tremendous impact in the day-to-day lives of the homeowners. Volunteers wielded tools, pulled weeds, applied concrete, and installed screen doors without hesitation. At one site, one of the family members provided musical accompaniment, playing his organ from the living room. The homeowner, Willie Loving, had been living in the house since the 1960’s and reminisced about his favorite memories in the house, watching his children grow up, and then start their own families. He spoke about how he’s seen a lot of his neighbors move away and that they were “the only ones left.” He was proud to have the repairs done during the Day of Service saying that it “makes the house better represented.” One volunteer said, “I could sense the family and workers' connection while building community together. I would definitely do this again without a doubt.”

Many homeowners shared similar experiences, noting that some changes are for the better and some for the worse. Dianne moved into her Northeast home about 25 years ago, and has witnessed the transformation of the area, “when I first moved here, the neighborhood was horrible… but now I see everyone working together… I see a lot of change, it’s getting better.” She also expressed frustration with all the letters she has been receiving weekly asking if she is interested in selling her home. Her children grew up in that home and then graduated and she now lives with her grandchildren; she says she’s not going anywhere.

That’s about my story we’re just trying to maintain.
— Eunice, homeowner

Eunice has been at her home for 34 years. She says there’s good and bad in every neighborhood, but "what I don't like, is that there should be a law, concerning people coming in and putting a high building right next to you. I have a problem with that because I have to change my light bulbs to see how to prepare my food in my kitchen. I open my blinds and I'm looking straight at a wall! This house to the right of me cuts off my view up and down the street." Eunice says the Day of Service makes her feel very good and thankful for the work that is being done in her community. Eunice moved to Portland in 1979 and says she hates to see some people have to move on at a certain age, saying, “I'm thankful for people like you guys that try and help us maintain. As long as I can maintain, I plan on staying here in this neighborhood. I like it. It's close to stuff: the school, the library, and everything, close to the freeway and transit, there's traffic all the time now but at night it gets quieter. I don't see a lot of kids anymore on the street, most of them have probably grown up like my kids. The convenience store is still there, the owners have only changed one time since we moved in. That's about my story we're just trying to maintain.”

And after a day of community building, volunteers met at Stormbreaker Brewery, who poured discounted beer for the intrepid volunteers. With the help of local businesses, organizations, and volunteers, the ReBuilding Center and the African American Alliance for Homeownership were able to help build a more vibrant and just community through the Day of Service by helping stem displacement of long-term residents. We hope to continue this event in the years to come. If you would like to get involved or donate to next year’s Day of Service, every little bit helps, please contact with the subject line “Day of Service” or donate online at and earmark it for “Day of Service.” Thank you to everyone for your support!


The Salvage Supperclub came all the way from New York City last month and teamed up with the ReBuilding Center to host their first Portland food event. Talented chefs and innovative menus featured exciting dishes in a multi-course dining experience made completely of food and materials that were intercepted en route to landfills. Their creative process draws attention to the immense amount of food that needlessly goes to waste every day, and prompts a dialogue about the potential implementation of more sustainable food practices. The unique dumpster dining experience took place in a custom communal dining room made with salvaged materials donated by the ReBuilding Center. The founder and Creative Director of Salvage Supperclub, Josh Treuhaft, was kind enough to participate in an interview about the details of his events.

Where do the profits from your event go?

Salvage Supperclub is not an incorporated LLC, and at this point we are not officially a nonprofit either. We are a popup initiative. All of the additional costs associated with the event come from ticket sales, and all of the profits are donated to local nonprofits with similar missions. The profits from the Portland event were donated to the ReBuilding Center, Urban Gleaners, and Congregation Beth Israel - the synagogue who hosted the event.

How do you ensure you are repurposing food safely? 

None of our food actually comes from dumpsters, and nothing on our menu has been partially eaten and discarded. We don't use food that contains mold or other signs of contamination. We only use untampered with food that has been donated to us by farms, culinary schools, commercial kitchens, restaurants, community gardens, food coops, and places like that.  

Do you have recommendations for others on how to minimize food waste? 

Consider if the part of the vegetable you are about to throw away is actually garbage. Broccoli stalks, carrot greens, and many other things we often throw away, are actually edible and nutritious. You can extend the shelf life of food by storing it properly, and many foods can be preserved by storing them in oil or canning them. Ugly or bruised produce can be hidden in soups and stews. And the sell by date is just a guess by the manufacturer, not a safety requirement or certain date to discard by. Don't throw anything away just because it says it is past the sell by date.

Do you find it challenging to repurpose items typically discarded as waste?

I think starting with a blank paper can be more difficult than what we do. We have more constraints on what we are working with, which can make it easier since there is less to choose from. This can lead us to be even more creative. Having what we are working with  clearly defined is a major benefit, and a neat challenge. 

How do you think your mission correlates with the mission of the rebuilding center?

We help people rethink their relationship to materials in their lives, and decide what actually has life and value left in it rather than automatically throwing it away.

I think the work you guys do is just great. So much valuable material in the world that all-too-often gets overlooked for no good reason. We need more people doing this important work on that front. We are both looking for things that others overlook the value of, and reclaiming that value. We help people rethink their relationship to materials in their lives, and decide what actually has life and value left in it rather than automatically throwing it away. We both share creative repurposing ideas with others, inspiring them to creatively repurpose items in their own life as well. 

To sign up for Salvage Supperclub event invitations click the link below, or email for additional information:

For additional statics on food waste and practices in Oregon follow the link below:




Grant High School Renovates After Century, Materials Find Home at RBC

After opening nearly a century ago in 1924, Grant High School on NE 36th Avenue is being modernized. It is one of three Portland public high schools being renovated in a $480 million effort by the city to improve the schools and their surrounding communities. The modernization of Grant, which began just last month in June, is scheduled to be completed in September of 2019 after an approximate $116.1 million is spent to “completely reconfigure and update learning spaces with a focus on indoor environmental quality, sustainability and historic preservation,” according to to the city website.

Josh Stark, an employee of the Center and native Portlander says he is happy to see the city put money into developing the school and aiding the community. Josh remembers playing for Jefferson, his high school rivals, at tense and hard fought baseball games. With many memories of baseball and basketball games at the school, Josh is happy to see improvements made but wishes that more could be salvaged. Although the city passed a law requiring all houses built before 1916 to be deconstructed rather than demolished, the school, built before this year, doesn't have to follow this law. Many materials that could be salvaged and sold back to the community are being kept at the high school to be soon thrown into the landfill, making Josh wish the city would follow the same rules it requires of its citizens.

After getting approved to pick up items from Grant, the Rebuilding Center got to work last Monday, July 3rd. And after taking the Fourth of July holiday off, the workers went back in on Wednesday, to spend the rest of the week tearing down the old high school. Each day, six to twelve staffers and volunteers from the Rebuilding Center have been on the job, tirelessly working to strip and save as much material as possible from the 275,000-square-foot building, taking in to the store in two truckloads per day.

This job is different and far larger in scope from most of the jobs RBC completes. Usually the driving team arrives on site to pick up items that have been donated or hand-dismantled by our DeConstruction crews. For this site, many of the items had to be DeConstructed. RBC staff took apart many, many large doors off their hinges, and moved sets of three to five lockers down flights of stairs to get them onto the truck. This operation also requires more workers than usual, as employee Andrey explains that, “A DeConstruction typically has only two to three workers at a site, but since this one requires a larger team each day, it’s an adjustment for each of them figure out how to work in the bigger group.”

The workers have been finding lots of neat stuff tucked away in hidden corners of Grant, most of which will soon appear on the floor at the ReBuilding Center. Among their favorite items have been old cupboards and cabinets, really old lumber, and glass chandeliers, which for the most part were built in the early 20th century or before. Klara Kautz, an intern at the ReBuilding Center, said she has found some devices so old she can’t even figure out how they work. She’s also noticed the surplus of beautiful, opaque doors, and other materials that just need a little touching up or re-finishing before they look as good as new, like for instance the large, old chalkboards (selling for $75 a pop). After chatting with the Director of the Rebuilding Center, Stephen Reichard, the two came up with a creative idea that would use two drawers and another small piece of wood from the school to make a nightstand. Klara called this idea “simple, nice and clever,” and it’s just one example of how the many materials from Grant High school could be reused and repurposed and then put back into the community.

RBC Driver, Erik says the most exciting part is saving the materials from the landfill, and since up to 25% of materials from construction go to waste, the reuse work is “pretty amazing.” Although some may be sad to see the old Grant High School go, the opportunities that this project has opened up, both for the ReBuilding Center to salvage materials and the community to have an updated, modernized school, make the whole process a meaningful one for the entire city of Portland.

Ian Hale's Story: Repurposing Materials for Art, Sculpture, and Furniture

Ian Hale is a visionary local artist applying his talents in a wide range of art, sculpture, and furniture. He has been repurposing materials from the ReBuilding Center in his work since he moved to Portland 12 years ago, and was happy to repay his thanks by participating in the following interview with one of our volunteer newsletter journalists here at the newsletter. Ian Hale shares his passion for infusing life with a unique history and artistic flavor that comes from this active reuse, and showcases the satisfaction that comes from saving those distinctive pieces from being wasted. Through such innovative design, Hale has developed an extraordinarily inspiring creative process and outlook. 

What got you into making art?

I have been artistically inclined as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt compelled to make art; I can’t really explain the impulse behind it. My first artistic memory is a drawing I made when I was about five or six - a self portrait of me surfing in a bathtub. Something clicked and I got hooked.

How did you find out about the ReBuilding Center?

Not long after moving to Portland back in 2005 and attending The Oregon College of Art and Craft, the ReBuilding Center was referred to me as prime location to purchase wood.

Why do you use salvaged materials rather than new ones?

Salvaged materials have such a personality, I have made many sculptures where they inform the initial direction of a piece and everything else falls into place smoothly afterwards.
Split Dimension Shelf - conceptualizes multiple dimensions across time and space

Split Dimension Shelf - conceptualizes multiple dimensions across time and space

What other materials do you use?

In addition to wood, I love painting, working with metal and assorted mixed media. Integrating material successfully that seems incompatible is something that interests me greatly.

What does sustainability mean to you?

A balanced coexistence with our surrounding environment and the minimizing of waste and excess. This is unfortunately difficult to achieve given the many comforts and conveniences of modern civilization. I take some solace in the increased level of awareness; environmentalism isn’t some fringe concept anymore. I see the use of salvaged or reclaimed materials as a positive trend and a step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go.
Architectural Amoebic Reproduction - salvaged building materials meet cellular mitosis in this art installation made entirely of items found at the Rebuilding Center

Architectural Amoebic Reproduction - salvaged building materials meet cellular mitosis in this art installation made entirely of items found at the Rebuilding Center

Is your creative process an intuitive one? 

Yes, it is an intuitive process to some extent. I don’t resign myself to complete trust in intuition - it has certainly led me down the wrong path before. There is mediation between mind and body, a combination of spontaneous and impulsiveness with more reasoned, calculated decision making as well. I often start pieces with a purely intuitive approach and gradually use more discretion as it takes shape and progresses.

Do you find that limited access to desired materials assists in the process of thinking outside the box?

For my personal artistic practice I find self imposed restrictions from forcing myself to use certain material very helpful. It is overwhelming to create something with everything at your disposal.
Droid Drawers - built from a single 4'x8' piece of plywood, this piece serves as a reminder that resource restraints function as a primary source of inspiration in Ian Hale's creative process

Droid Drawers - built from a single 4'x8' piece of plywood, this piece serves as a reminder that resource restraints function as a primary source of inspiration in Ian Hale's creative process

Do you see practicality in art as helpful in transmitting a specific message?

Yes, but not always. I’m not sure if there is a visual art equivalent to that modernist architecture expression “form follows function.” I suppose looking at a building evokes a more universal response than an abstract painting. It is very difficult to cultivate a predetermined reaction to a piece of art. People will project such a wide range of things onto it - associations you can never expect. There is only so much one can do as an artist to guide them toward a specific concept. It is tempting to explain every piece as “open to interpretation,” but I think that’s a bit lazy. 
I think the average artist is honest about their goals and uniting the world might not seem the most realistic. I strongly feel that art can be a positive powerful force, but it also must be conscious of and humbled by its limitations.


Click the link for more inspirational artwork and words by Ian Hale!

ReFind Education Awarded the Association of Oregon Recyclers' Best Education Program

The ReBuilding Center’s ReFind Education Program and mission were honored in early June at the Association of Oregon Recyclers conference, "Sustainable Oregon." The Association of Oregon Recyclers supports recycling, composting, thoughtful consumption, and producer responsibility. Their conference featured educational sessions, local and national experts, tours and an awards program celebrating the achievements of Oregon’s recycling, reuse, and waste reduction.

AOR Award

The ReBuilding Center’s implementation of ReFind Education received the Best Education/Promotion Program award at this year's conference. ReFind Education emphasizes affordable classes that give adults and youth skills on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials. Classes have been selling out faster than expected. With over 1,000 adult students in the last year, the response has been incredible and the ReBuilding Center is scaling up to meet community demand. We have hired three new instructors, including a ReFind Education Shop Coordinator, Aaron Green, and plan to offer even more classes. ReFind also offers space to teach local youth STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) skills. Since August 2016, RBC has engaged over 2,000 Portland Public School seventh graders in "maker" experiences, challenging them to conceptualize, design, and build their own unique 3-stringed guitars from salvaged building materials.

In receiving the award, Stephen Reichard, Executive Director of the ReBuilding Center, noted that justice and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. The ReBuilding Center works to connect the two. In a nutshell, those most likely to be left out of the conversation regarding their needs and wants are encouraged to take part here. At the ReBuilding Center, the overarching goal cannot be mistaken for anything other than utter inclusivity and invitation to be a part of a growing movement in changing the nature of the way we relate to natural resources.

The Association of Oregon Recyclers’ award brings encouragement and recognition to the efforts of staff, volunteers, and supporting organizations and government, as well as customers donating and purchasing materials at the ReBuilding Center.