Earth Day Guide to Spring Cleaning

This year, Earth Day will be officially celebrated around the world on April 22nd in more than 193 countries with teach-ins on environmental and climate literacy, marches, and other activities that demonstrate support for environmental protection. After a rough winter, spring has finally sprung in Portland; make a positive impact this Earth Day by following these four green Spring cleaning tips:

1.     Host a Neighborhood Clean-Up Event

The City of Portland promotes and sponsors neighborhood clean-ups. This year, there are over 40 cleanup events scheduled around the city in April and May, that will “prioritize and promote both recycling and reuse,” completely in spirit with the Earth Day celebrations.

Find your neighborhood and get information about your local cleanup >

2.     Collect Your Junk and Bring it to a Local Reuse Organization

We've all heard "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Why not bring your junk to one of these specific organizations that deal with specialty materials and make sure they're going to a good home? Plus, rest assured that your contributions will be of considerable benefit to your community! Whether it's an old bathtub, a box full of zippers, a love seat, or a cell phone, we've got the reuse center hookup for you. 

rebuilding-center.jpg

Used Building Materials, Cabinets, Appliances, Lighting

ReBuilding Center
3625 N Mississippi Ave
(503) 331-9291

If you want to recycle your old lumber, doors, windows, kitchen cabinets, sinks, toilets, lighting, fixtures, and more, drop them off at the donation area or see if you qualify for their free pick-up service. RBC salvages the region's largest volume of used building and remodeling materials for reuse and supports community-led projects to build a more sustainable and equitable Portland. Acceptance guidelines here >

scrap.jpg

Textiles, Wood Scraps, Paper Products

SCRAP PDX
1736 SW Alder St
(503) 294-0769

Donate your wallpaper, art supplies, containers, fabric, decorations, metal, office supplies, wood, paper, and other goods and make them available to your community at incredibly fair prices. SCRAP accepts donations 11am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday and funds educational programs in schools, provides reuse education programs, and donates materials to other nonprofit and educational groups. Find out what they accept and what they don't accept > 

free-geek.jpg

Used Computers and Electronics

Free Geek Thrift Store
SE 10th Avenue
(503) 232-9350

Free Geek accepts smartphones, tablets, e-readers, video game systems or obsolete gadgets, printers (including extra ink and toner), scanners, routers, UPS, digital cameras, PDAs, cell phones—they don’t have to be in working condition! Volunteers get technology in the hands of people who need it including the disadvantaged, schools, nonprofits, and other community change organizations. View what they take here >

community-warehouse.jpg

Vintage Furniture, Household Items, Mattresses

Community Warehouse
3969 NE M L King Blvd
(503) 445-1449

Community warehouse accepts “treasures you no longer treasure.” The store’s ever-changing inventory of antique, vintage, and retro furniture and housewares is fun, funky, and well-priced to keep folks coming back. Pairing up with local social service agencies, the Community Warehouse gets goods to families in need. Check out their acceptance guidelines here > 

3. Create your own DIY cleaning supplies with easy-to-find and more environmentally friendly ingredients.

Learn how to make a baking soda paste to clean your oven chemical-free, create an all-purpose cleaner with only two ingredients, and utilize other environmentally friendly mix-it-yourself cleaners in this Good Housekeeping guide. You can also check out Fix.com's DIY Natural Household Cleaners post that features how to make your own wool dryer ball, homemade vanilla rosemary air freshener (yum!), plus the only all-purpose cleaner recipe you'll ever need.

4.     Be creative and repurpose old items!

Repurpose containers in your fridge, turn old drawers into more storage, or repurpose your tired t-shirts into a multitude of craft projects. There's no end to the possibilities; get creative or use Pinterest for some crafting inspiration.

How to Give Your Planet a Kiss on Earth Day 2017

As we all dry off from one of the soggiest winters in memory, I suspect we can all agree that Mother Earth, our planet and our home, suffers from neglect. Earth Day comes this weekend. This is your chance to step up and say: We love you Mom!

There are lots of things to do, from celebrating with the great students at PSU on Friday, to helping the Urban League prepare its Urban Garden for spring planting just a block away from your very own ReBuilding Center, to clean-ups by SOLVE all over the State of Oregon. So, jump in; get involved; and give your planet the big wet kiss she deserves.


Portland State University’s 10th Annual Celebration of Earth Day
Friday, April 21
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
PSU Park Blocks

Join Environmental Club for the 10th Annual Earth Day Festival featuring live music, community and student organizations, student artists and a reuse fair. This event is free and open to the public. A film screening and free dinner will be offered in the evening.


Image: Lyn Topinka

Image: Lyn Topinka

Kelly Point Park Clean Up
Friday, April 21
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Kelly Point Park

Join the Cascade Environmental Club for the Kelly Point Park Clean Up! This will be an all-day event of invasive species removal, planting of native species, trash pick- up, and a metal detector beach walk. The event will feature a live recycled art expo and local music and food! Lunch will provide for volunteers w/costume T-shirts. Contact Dustin.Boomer@pcc.edu for more info.


Urban League Garden Clean Up
Saturday, April 22
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Where: Corner of N. Beech and N. Albina

Help the Urban League get its garden ready for spring cleaning.


Operation Clean Sweep
Saturday, April 22
10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Check in at NE 18th and Alberta

Alberta Street’s 7th annual Earth Day clean up offers more than just a a feel-good chore. The event welcomes neighbors near and far to clean up Alberta Street then celebrate at the Golden Garbage Awards. After cleaning up garbage and removing graffiti along Alberta from MLK to 33rd Avenue, you’re invited to eat pizza, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, treats from Random Order, and enter to win prizes from local businesses. Don’t forget to bring your own water, gloves and any tools that might help beautify the area. FAQ are answered here and don’t forget to register online ahead of time.


SOLVE Cleanups
Saturday, April 22
Various times & locations

Presented by Portland General Electric, Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism (SOLVE), is a non-profit organization that has one mission: “Bring Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship.” Interested? Good thing there are countless Earth Day clean-ups to choose from this April 22. Transform Barrows Park in Beaverton to a thriving habitat, spruce up the Oregon Human Society Dog Path or join the 2nd Annual Invasive Species Scavenger hunt in Vancouver; those are just a few of the options for volunteer action. Check out the website below to find a volunteer opportunity that works for you and your family.


#EcoSocialJustice
Monday, April 24, 11am in PAC Lobby at Sylvania
Monday, April 24, 2pm in MAHB 104 at Cascade
Wednesday, April 26, 10am in Building 9 Events Center at Rock Creek
Wednesday, April 26, 2pm in the Community Hall at Southeast

In #EcoSocialJustice, Dr. Chatelain explores our recent history and current events in our country as a context to better understand the interconnections of racial, social and environmental justice. Looking at the many issues we face – racism, food insecurity, environmental degradation, widening economic disparities, climate change – how can these movements come together to strategically align for sustainable change? If we are stronger together, how have we failed to collectively mobilize in the past? 

Chatelain initiated the #FergusonSyllabus after the death of Michael Brown. She has been featured prominently on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and on other national platforms.

Rodolfo Serna Mural Takes on New Life at the RBC

The ReBuilding Center is excited to have just adopted a very special work of art by local Native American muralist, Rodolfo Serna.  The 9' by 32' mural, designed and constructed by Rodolfo and the youth from Christie Care and P:ear, once graced the wall of the Por Que No? restaurant on Hawthorne and now takes on new life hanging proudly above the lighting section of the ReBuilding Center.  Rodolfo was happy to do an interview with a member of our newsletter team and share his appreciation along with some more information about his art and role in the community.

DSC_0068.JPG

What is your favorite part about making murals and why did you choose this as your primary artistic focus?

I love the collaboration process and community aspect.  These large scale projects that I do with large groups of kids are very special to me and are greatly tied to my spirituality.  I had done some individual art projects with kids and realized that I wanted to be able to work with lots of kids at same time.  We learn and grow so much through this process, and everyone gets to take ownership of the piece.  We do every step of the work together, and when it's done we all celebrate together. 

How do you design your murals, and create space for everyone to express their ideas? What are the challenges and benefits of working collaboratively like this?

In art school I met other muralists who treated this work as an independent practice.  I found many artists to be very self-focused and this didn't appeal to me.  I was inspired by the way in which Mexican artists had historically used murals to bring community together.  I decided I was going to practice incorporating elements of my Native American philosophy: respect, humility, and compassion.  When you look at the temples in Mexico, these were never created by one individual, but massive amounts of people.  Tears of the pyramids were even created by successive generations.  I brought all those ideas into it.  I let go of a lot of what I was taught in school: to be in full control of the piece.  When you let go of control, you learn to trust your community and kids.  What we have created together is always something far greater than what I could create myself.  They come up with the ideas.  I draw the composition, the blueprint.  When they approve it, we then transfer it using the grid method - so they also learn about how to construct large scale art with this method.  Once it is transposed, we begin the first layer of the painting.  There are many layers of painting that we all do together, and these layers are very important.   
DSC_0055.JPG

 

Who painted the mural now at the ReBuilding Center, and what can you tell us about the symbolism of the imagery?

Two groups of kids worked on this, Christie Care [a residential youth village] and P:ear [a homeless youth mentoring program].  The kids at Christie Care wanted to represent the relationship between us and nature, and P:ear wanted to represent diversity.  I often use images that reference Native tribes, like the Lacota or Aztec, and philosophy of the Native community.  Here I used the imagery of the four directions: there are two lines, a circle, and four colors.  These represent our relationship.  The four colors are the four continents.  The circle is really significant in symbolizing that we are all relatives and all related.  The idea of this medicine wheel is widespread in Native philosophy and it is very important.  The female figures in the mural are strong, and from different cultural backgrounds.  The turtle represents Turtle Island, another name for America.  There are representations of the four elements: wind, fire water, and earth.  The side panels are more about the relationship between us and the earth - a symbiotic relationship represented by the humming bird and flower and traditional dancer in the tree. 

What is the original story behind why this mural was created, and why is it now at the ReBuilding Center?

I made this mural about six years ago because of an invitation I received from the Por Que No? restaurant on Hawthorne.  The neighborhood association and owner of the restaurant, Bryan Steelman, invited me to do it and I put the project together with the owner who wanted to bring more art to his restaurant.  I got a grant for the public art that was only good for five years, and space beside the restaurant was then rented the mural was blocked by carts.  The owner took it down.  Stephen [the Executive Director at the ReBuilding Center] agreed to store it, and then decided to put it up. 
PQN UNVLNG B.jpg

What would you like people to take away from your art? 

For me, it's really important to tip the scales for everyday people.  We don't have as much power to change the world as we would like to.  I make beautiful imagery and art.  I'm trying to tip the scales with what I do and add some goodness to the world.  Give to the life giving forces.  Share my art with kids.  Make the world beautiful.  Not only because it is aesthetically pleasing, but because it is part of my spiritual practice and I really believe it has an effect.  I believe color and imagery help stimulate the brain and this affects our health as human beings.  It activates the brain and makes us think.  I'm doing what I can with this medicine that is in me.  My art is my medicine.

How does this piece resonate with the ReBuilding Center's mission of improving community through reuse? 

When the mural was taken down, I was about to say goodbye to it.  I had nowhere to store it, but there was still so much life in it.  There is so much value in these things that are going to be thrown away.  Instead of being thrown away, it is getting used a second time and gets to keep living.  The ideas of harmony and working with the earth that are symbolized in this piece is exactly what the ReBuilding Center does.  Reusing rather than wasting is part of the message behind the mural.  

Can you tell us a little about your work with Latino Network and local youth?

Latino Network is a nonprofit where I work with at risk youth.  I work with a lot of immigrant families, helping them to navigate services and housing support.  I get referrals from the county for kids that are in the juvenile system.  I work in the juvenile detention center, where I'm starting Red Stone Collective, a place where they can do art and participate in Native American practices such as dancing.  This is going to become a nonprofit as well, and will become be a full cultural community center. 

You've worked with an extensive array of nonprofits.  Can you name some of the ones that you have worked with or share any stories from that work?

I work on the board of an Aztec dance group that does cultural presentations at schools and community events, and holds ceremonies several times a year that are open to the public.  We just became a nonprofit and will be expanding.  I'm on another board that also just got nonprofit status that does healing for people through Native sweat lodges.  I'm really proud of those two groups, and that I get to be part of them and the amazing people that run them.  My work at the detention center is also going to become a nonprofit, and I'm hoping it will become a community center, a safe place for all these kids to share art and culture and just stay safe.   

Are you working on any new projects right now?

I've been invited to do a mural or two at the PDX airport, and I'm currently working with high schoolers on that.  I've applied for some other things, but nothing certain just yet.  I was just invited to the Clackamas Art Alliance.  I've worked with four schools from there in the last year, which is great.  I'm definitely growing. 

How many murals have you created in the Portland area?

Over 30 now, I think.  

Are you active or accessible to your fans through social media such as Facebook or Instagram? 

Yes I have pages on those, and that's been the best way for the youth to keep in touch with me since I'm not always in the same place. 

Anything else you would like to share?

I'm really grateful for the ReBuilding Center.  When I saw my mural back up it was powerful and beautiful and it warmed my heart.  I'm very pleased by this validation and affirmation of my work.  The staff there is great and this has been a great experience.

RBC Submits Proposal to Dismantle Portland Building for Reuse

Love it or hate it, the Portland Building is in need of some dire repairs, and the first step to get the 15-story downtown municipal office building up to code is to deconstruct the structure, skimming it of its reusable parts. The building is not coming down completely, rather it is being partially deconstructed to make use of the materials that back in 1982, architect Michael Graves sparked great controversy with the use of such a wide variety of surface materials and colors. Considered the first icon of postmodern architecture, Graves refused Modernist principles and values, but with its infamously small, tinted windows, most are excited for the deconstruction and renovation to begin. Opinions about the building and architect range greatly. We sat down with Douglas Lichter, the ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction Services Manager, to tell us a bit about the background of this monumental deconstruction project.

We asked Lichter why the ReBuilding Center is involved in such a huge demolition project, “We saw it as an opportunity.” Salvaging items from the building for reuse, such as bicycle racks, fountains, toilet accessories, and the exterior lights, allows the ReBuilding Center to divert waste from the landfill, create jobs, and give history-lovers a chance to get their hands on these significant items.

The Portland Building is home to the iconic Portlandia statue by Raymond Kaskey. It appears in the opening sequence of Portlandia, the eccentric sketch comedy show. The statue is located outside the building, above the entrance and is the second largest copper repousse in the country after the Statue of Liberty! One of the items up for potential reuse is a Portlandia reproduction that lives indoors, safe from the elements. Among other exciting items, there is a beautiful salad bar adorned in copper and oak, and many quality, retro light fixtures. Anyone who’s been in the Portland Building has probably noticed the cool blue-green tiles; the indoor tiles are protected due to historic value but the hope is to secure the outdoor tiles.

Recently the ReBuilding Center has linked up with Maarten Gielen who owns Rotor Deconstruction in Brussels, Belgium. Lichter and Gielen met at the Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) Conference in May of last year where Gielen was a speaker. Knowing that Gielen was extremely knowledgeable about deconstruction and had an eye for architecture (he runs Resells Architecture), Lichter knew Gielen would be a nice addition to the team. The ReBuilding Center also linked up with Core Recycling, a division of The City of Roses Disposal, who are well known for ensuring that what-would-be discarded waste be reused, recycled, or reduced.

The 362,422-square-foot building may be memorable from the outside, but when asked what the inside looked like, Lichter said, “It’s kind of a boring office building, with the exception of the elevator lobbies.” Getting into more detail, the building seems to have more or less character depending on the floor. Plagued with water damage, lack of natural light, and a few environmental deficiencies, the building is due for some repairs. The ReBuilding Center is poised to take on the project, bringing nearly 20 years of experience to the art of dismanteling for reuse. The materials will then be available for sale to the public at 40-90% of market and retail values. Proceeds (after operational costs) fund RBC’s Community Outreach Program and ReFind Education.

Presuming the General Contractor and the City Of Portland accept the ReBuilding Center's proposal, RBC estimates the process could take from two to three and half months, with hope of completing the project by the end of 2017. The basic proposal is presented in three tiers: 1) what the City of Portland wants to keep; 2) what RBC wants that the City of Portland doesn’t; and 3) materials that the ReBuilding Center may be able to sell.

Possibly the most controversial building in Portland, and certainly one that stands out amongst the rest, Portland embraces progressive DeConstruction Services to make use of the iconic materials. Renovations will help significantly with energy efficiency and shed much-needed natural light on the employees.

Breaking Down Deconstruction in PDX

If you’ve been following the news, you know that Portland’s City Council recently adopted an ordinance mandating that in lieu of demolition, home structures built prior to 1917 be fully deconstructed instead. Prior to the ordinance, roughly 30 homes in Portland were deconstructed annually with 300 being demolished. With the ordinance, it is estimated that as many as 100 homes will be deconstructed each year, diverting up to 2,400 tons of materials from the landfill.

To ensure that the skilled workers are available to take down all of these old homes, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability held a training in March, led by the renowned deconstructionist Dave Bennick of Bellingham, WA. Fifteen trainees participated over 12 days, taking down three homes.

deconstruction-trainees-PDX

All of which is enough to get us excited at the ReBuilding Center. But what was really cool was the class of trainees itself: women, people of color, the formerly incarcerated. Every single one of the trainees came from a class of people who are not traditionally well-represented in the trades. And as a sustainability organization, that was amazing because development that is truly sustainable must not only “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” but also needs to work for everyone in the community. Let’s meet some of the trainees!

9.17.09 010.jpg

Zach is an incredibly affable guy. He learned about the training from his Home for Good manager. “It’s pretty incredible. It’s an amazing opportunity. The first house came down quick. It moves fast, fast. Removing flooring was probably the coolest thing. It was oak. Nice stuff. Learning how to rock it back and forth so you don’t rip the groove out, that was something I’d never seen before. We had Shane, Forrest, and Augest teaching us how to do that. And the roof came off in like two hours. The hardest piece was the plaster in the other house. It was a good inch thick and we just had to hammer it and hammer it and hammer it.”

Savannah, a recent Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. graduate, learned about deconstruction during her pre-apprenticeship training with OTI. She enjoyed it, did some research on deconstruction and “realized it was something ethically I believed in; and I like hard work and I love the idea of rebuilding things… It’s gratifying to be able to visually see progress on something. I love the idea of salvaging materials and keeping things out of the landfill.” 

DSC_0088b.JPG

Joe was living in a shelter when she heard about the training. She owned her own home for fourteen years and so knows a thing about reuse and repair. “You’ve got to do some of it---the repairs---yourself. You just can’t afford to have someone else do all of it.” Joe said, “I think the training's great. I always believed in deconstruction and reusing. And I think having this program vs. coming in with big equipment and wrecking everything and taking it to the dump, it’s great. I think it’s really important that we can use places like the ReBuilding Center to keep reusing. Dave Bennick gave a great speech about energy, about how it takes a certain amount of energy to make the roads to get the items, to take them somewhere to build them, and that we lose that energy if we don’t save the materials and reuse them. So let’s reuse them.”

And then there’s Umoru. Umoru was a carpenter before he came to the United States. He’s been hanging around the ReBuilding Center for about a year, volunteering and trying to get back into the trades. Umoru said, “There are some tools that I didn’t know the names of but that I know how to use. So there’s one big tool that I really like to use, a big pry bar, I like using it. I feel like it’s good for me. It is dirty work but it’s a good job.”

Safety is always a concern. Dave Bennick, the intrepid instructor explains: "We’re practicing taking out florescent light fixtures in a safe way. It’s above your head. So not only is there the danger of the light falling down but you’ve got debris. And it’s an older light fixture so there may be PCPs in the ballast. And another concern is that we’re worried about taking it out in such a way so that it can be re-used.”

But the best story was from Sara Badiali, a former ReBuilding Center employee, the founder of Reclamation Administration, and a fixture in Portland’s deconstruction scene. “This has been a really fun group of people. They work together really well. The guy with the dumpster dropped it off in the wrong spot. So Dave Bennick was showing everyone how you use levers and we actually fit it into the right spot. And I turned to Kyle (one of the students) and said, ‘Man you work together really well.’ They had the communication down. And she turned to me and said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been a longshoreman and I have never actually worked with a group of people who worked together so well and had such a good time,’ and then she leaned over and she said, ‘You know, there’s always kind of an a**hole in the group that sort of ruffles everyone’s feathers. But there’s not a single one in this group.’”

Reducing waste. Reusing materials. Building a more sustainable Portland, for everyone. And having fun while they’re at it.

Keeping Portland weird.

Learn How to Cob & Build Community April 8th & 9th!

You’ve probably seen the intriguing, organic, red bay at the main entrance of the ReBuilding Center that we call the "Community Trees.”  You may have asked yourself how these walls and trees were built? The answer is cob, a traditional building technique using earth mixed with water, straw, and sand.  The Community Trees are in desperate need of repair and we need your help to fix them! Learn valuable skills on how to mix, build, repair, and plaster with cob while building community!

The ReBuilding Center is sponsoring a two-day workshop to learn about making and using cob to repair the Community Trees. 

Saturday, April 8th & Sunday, April 9th
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. all day drop-in
1-hour lunch at noon

All are welcome! This cob workshop is intended to be accessible for all from children to elders. This is a family-friendly event. 

Drop-ins welcomed within these times:

Saturday, April 8th 

10am - Opening Circle
10am to Noon - "Classroom" Conversation
12pm to 1pm - Lunch
1pm to 4pm - Mixing Structural Cob, Mixing Plaster Cob, Cob Application
4pm to 5pm - CleanUp, Closing Circle

Sunday, April 9th

10am - Opening Circle
10am to Noon - Cob & Plaster Application
12om to 1pm - Lunch
1pm to 4pm - Cob & Plaster Application
4pm to 5pm - Wrap Up, CleanUp, and Closing Circle

Instructors will discuss the a history of the practice and its resilience to earthquakes.

Instructors:

Seed was born in Duwamish Coast Salish territory, Seattle, and grew up in Multnomah Chinook territory, Portland. He has traveled around Turtle Island trading work for skills like cob building, gardening, and ecological restoration, with a focus of supporting indigenous sovereignty projects—a core foundation of ecology in every region. He teaches and works with cob as a material for building sound structures, community, and metaphors for his own and our collective volition. Learning and growing through leading workshops past, including the Village Building Convergence, Seed hopes to facilitate a conversation of resilience skills, applied practice, and collective Spirit. Aho!

Sharky is a free spirit, born and raised playing in the mud of Kalapuya territory aka Eugene, OR. For the past 5 years, Sharky has traveled across Turtle Island studying off-grid living, natural building, farming, and passive solar construction. After building with different styles including earthships, earthbag construction, and cob, Sharky prefers cobbing because it is free-form, soul-soothing, accessible and fun for everyone. Sharky hopes to empower others to create autonomous buildings and community that, with a little TLC, will last a millennia.  

The Community Trees all dressed up for an episode of Grimm

The Community Trees all dressed up for an episode of Grimm

Kenton Neighborhood Approves Proposal for Tiny House Village for Houseless Women

On the night of March 8, a vote by the Kenton neighborhood approved a tiny house village for 14 houseless women with a landslide vote of 178 to 75 in favor of this innovative solution. At the vote, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly weighed in, “No neighborhood is going to be exempt from this conversation," Eudaly said, "This is a problem for all of us to solve. We're not talking about importing people to Kenton. We're talking about housing your houseless neighbors." 

The ReBuilding Center has been reporting on this story. To learn more, read The Oregonian article Tiny house village for homeless women approved by Kenton neighborhood >

“The newest idea in housing homeless people earned the first round of approval Wednesday night with a vote by the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland.

The neighborhood residents voted 178 to 75 in favor of a village of 14 tiny houses for homeless women.

Key city officials back the pilot project to form a community with shared restrooms, common space and a garden at a site off North Argyle Street, near Kenton Park. Charlie Hales kicked off the idea during his term as mayor and now Mayor Ted Wheeler is championing it as a better alternative to people sleeping on the streets or in tent villages.”
— Molly Harbarger, The Oregonian

The tiny homes were built by students from Portland State University's Center for Public Interest Design and the Village Coalition, a houseless advocacy nonprofit (that RBC helps support) using space and materials provided by the ReBuilding Center.

Before being moved to the Kenton neighborhood, the tiny homes are being stored at the ReBuilding Center's temporary lot. You can spot the ReBuilding Center’s head cashier, Ella Rose showing her beaming smile up on a billboard behind Ted Wheeler in the video below.

Drink and Craft at Portland's DIY Bar

DIY Bar is a gathering place in Portland, Oregon to get your craft on. On their website they say, "we're bringing people together to work on individual projects from our craft menu. Think of it as a Pinterest workshop where you get to sip on your favorite wine, beer, or cider. We've done the work for you to find the projects, gather the tools, and the materials needed to make beautiful and functional crafts." 

DIY Bar wrote about the ReBuilding Center in this blog post

We are excited to say the wood used for the frame of our bar, and our utility sink, are from the ReBuilding Center on Mississippi. The ReBuilding Center is filled with materials to get you through home, commercial, or recreational projects. A lot of these materials would have otherwise been recycled or landfilled, so it’s awesome to see them get a better use. They also have a deconstruction team, so if you need a house demolished you know who to call. Say goodbye to those pesky neighbors!

We asked DIY Bar a few questions about their mission, DIY culture, and reuse! See their responses below:

What is DIY Bar?

DIY Bar is a place for crafty and not so crafty people. It's part crafting studio, part bar. We supply the tools, materials, and tutorials for folks to sit down and complete a project from our project menu. It's similar to a paint and sip place, but we offer any of our projects at all times. The projects are self-guided with tutorials, and our craft-tenders are around if anyone needs assistance.

Who's it for?

We welcome everyone, but we're geared towards adults. As adults, it's easy for us to lose track of our creative and playful sides. We want to bring that back in those who have lost it, and continue to fuel it for those who still have it.

Why did you choose the ReBuilding Center for materials?

We share similar values as RBC. We grew up in the waste industry and worked in it before starting DIY Bar. We are familiar with how much waste is generated and the importance of using reclaimed materials. RBC is our go-to for reclaimed building materials. We're happy to say the heart of our bar (the bar) is made with materials from RBC.

How did RBC and DIY Bar get connected?

We familiarized ourselves with RBC by being involved with the waste industry. And now that we're neighbors it's even better (and dangerous because there's so many good things in there).

What is it about DIY culture that interests you?

We want to share the experience and feeling you get after completing a project. For us it's a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. You can look back at your project and know you made or built it with your hands. You've put your own creative twist on it. You made that thing!

What are some of the projects you're most excited to lead?

As mentioned above, we'll have craft-tenders to help support folks with their projects, instead of leading individual projects at a time.

What types of projects will you be hosting?

We have about 20 different projects on our craft menu. They range from leather projects (clutch purse, wallet, passport holder), to light wood working (6-pack carrier, drop catch bottle opener) to home goods (magnetic shelf, cat scratcher) to jewelry (hex nut bracelet, beaded wrap bracelet, tree of life necklace) to a variety of other projects (nail and string art). They're projects with a purpose!

What kinds of materials will be used?

We have a lot of different types of materials! We'll be using wood, string, nails, paint, magnets, leather, feathers, beads, chains, etc.

DIY Bar plans to launch in the Spring

and will be located at:

3522 NORTH VANCOUVER AVENUE,
PORTLAND, OR, 97227

Jami and Kourosh Remodel

This summer Jami and Kourosh Poumad completed a 4,300-square-foot home restoration using as many recycled materials as they could.    They wrote and complimented the staff of the ReBuilding Center for helping them select the following, all of which were used in the remodel.


Kitchen Cabinets
Corian kitchen counter and sink
24 exterior windows
3 entry doors
11 interior door knobs
4 bathroom showers, sinks and hardware
9 Cast iron radiators
Stair railing

21 indoor light fixtures
Dishwasher
Stove
Fridge
Microwave
All deck straps
20 bags of insulation

BEFORE  

BEFORE

 

AFTER

AFTER

Jami and Kourosh kindly responded to questions we had that explained in detail their experience and reasons for using recycled materials from the ReBuilding Center:

Is this the first time you have used recycled items in your home?

  
This is not the first time. Whenever we have a repair or change at home the ReBuilding Center/recycled materials are our first choice.

 

For items that had to be “built-in," like the kitchen cabinets and countertops, the 24 exterior windows, and the stair railing, did you have any problem getting them to fit? Or did you have to modify them in some way?  

Yes. The windows all had to be re–framed and one of the kitchen cabinets was converted to a sink module since the "set" didn’t include it.  We also installed a kick plate at the base.  The Corian counter was too long and had to be cut at one end. The stair railing had to be re-drilled and the old holes had to be filled in with wood putty, then re-stained.  (The metal rails were new, not recycled)

Why do you use recycled materials?

Lower cost and we like to bring products and materials “back to life.”

Have you used sources other than the ReBuilding Center to obtain/purchase items?

Yes—Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Cedar Hills and Forest Grove; Goodwill; and Craigslist.

Do you have a philosophy that supports your use of recycled building materials?

Considering a great deal of effort and expertise goes into manufacturing a walnut door or a leaded glass window, it’s a shame to send a craftperson’s work to a landfill.  We find that often a recycled item is just as good as or better than new [materials] and is less expensive.  Those savings are passed onto our family and employees, it puts a whole new spin on recycling!

What other things have you purchased from the ReBuilding Center? 

1 heavy duty outdoor door and 1 French door for our business
We re-purposed an alabaster hanging bell lamp to a soft table lamp
We installed 3 – 6’x1’ windows in our daylight studio
Insulation for the studio
16 cast iron radiators for our home
Roofing material for our home
A double stove for our home

Of all your purchases of recycled items, which do you like the most?
We like the windows used on the front deck in place of iron balusters.  It saved us a lot of money in place of using many balusters.  And it gives the home a charming artistic flair without being over the top.  

UNIQUE UPCYCLED CABINET DOORS

 

Found on Pinterest, here are some fun craft opportunities utilizing old cabinet doors, which ReBuilding Center has plenty of!  Not “recycled,” but “upcycled” into a southern style work of art, these serving trays are perfect for any style home décor.  The one shown above was created by Kim from Savvy Southern Style and included on the Cottage Market Blog.

Here’s another cabinet door upcycled into a useful tray from Randi of Dukes & Duchesses. Follow her how-to here >

And another! Inspired now? This one is from Addicted 2 Decorating. Follow Kristi's informational how-to here >

 The ReBuilding Center is a good source for these and many other objects that can be upcycled into unique uses. Get your creative reuse on and tag us in your next project @rebuildingcenter!

 

High School Students Power Tiny Homes for the Houseless

High school students from Catlin Gabel are powering tiny homes for the houseless with a project they call “The Juice Box Project!” Check out this 3-minute video and hear from the residents about how this system is helping them get back on their feet!

An innovative solution to off-the-grid communities like Hazelnut Grove, these eco-friendly boxes provide solar powered energy to juice light and electricity, which “allows residents to become more independent, productive and engaged in their communities!” Help The Juice Box Project win this year’s Lexus Eco Challenge by sharing this post! The ReBuilding Center is a proud partner in this initiative.

What Is Juice Box?

Juice Box is an efficient and sustainable way to provide electricity for off-the-grid, portable pods for previously homeless people.

  • The shelter "pods" are equipped with 100W solar panels that deliver power to the Juice Box, mounted inside. 
  • The power of the sun is harnessed to charge an 18 AH 12V battery. Batteries are recycled from FIRST Robotics teams.
  • This power can then be used to power devices that plug into a wall outlet  (120V AC, 300W max) or 12V DC automotive accessory socket.
  • The battery also powers a bright LED light bar mounted on the front of the Juice Box, perfect for illuminating rooms at night, and extending the day of the user.

Come and get your junk fixed at the Next Repair Cafe

repair-cafe-flyer

Repair PDX was formed in March 2013 to bring repair events to Portland residents. Inspired by the Netherlands Repair Cafés, a group of dedicated volunteers have held Portland Repair Cafés about once a month since May 2013.  The typical Repair Cafés are festive events where you can often get a bite to eat and a drink while meeting others from your community who are also interested in repair. Volunteer experts are on hand to fix items and to teach you how to fix your own items.  

Each repair café event is unique, based on the venue and the volunteers present. The types of items that can be repaired depend on the skills of available volunteers.  That’s right, repairs are carried out by “volunteer fixers!”  Note: you can become a volunteer fixer to work at other Repair Café events – just email repairpdx@gmail.com with your contact information and what you’d like to do.  Join us for a Repair PDX event at the ReBuilding Center!

Repair PDX Event
May 23rd
6:00–8:00 pm.
ReBuilding Center

Bring your garments for mending, bikes and small appliances for repair.

Bring your garments for mending, bikes and small appliances for repair.

Upcoming Classes at the ReBuilding Center

The ReBuilding Center is celebrating their six-month anniversary of hands-on DIY classes for adults in our ReFind shop! Over two dozen scholarships have become available because of donations. We are excited to see so many hearts and hands involved in making this program grow. Thank you!

Cutting Boards and Butcher Blocks

Saturday & Sunday, March 25 - 26
1:00-5:00 p.m. | $125
Learn to cut, glue, and finish, plus alternative clamping methods.

Intro to Carpentry Tools

Saturday, April 1
1:00-5:00 p.m. | $90
A hands-on tour-de-tools to unlock your wildest DIY Pinterest dreams.

Custom Picture Frames

Saturday, April 29
1:00-4:00 p.m. | $50
Miter saws and nail guns - what's not to love? Just in time for Mother's Day, too!

ANNOUNCING A NEW COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROJECT: MUDBONE GROWN

PORTLAND, OR. (February 3, 2017) — Local start-up MudBone Grown, LLC (MBG) and its partner programs GroundUp Organics, Green A&T have launched a culturally/ethnically-specific urban food systems project at the Oregon Food Bank’s 33rd Ave. Farm. MudBone owners Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers are NE Portland natives that made the leap to small farm agriculture early last year.

“We are very excited about our collaboration with Christine Hadekel Outreach Manager with Oregon Food Bank for the opportunity to launch our social enterprise-based start-up farm”, said Johnson, (founder, certified community health worker, doula, and now urban farmer).  Arthur, (co-founder, construction “jack-of-all-trades”and professional leathersmith) and I have been dreaming about this for years and we were not sure how things were going to turn out after we left the BUFA (Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship) program last summer.”

“This is a game changer,” says Shavers. “This assistance saves us more than $10,000 of start-up costs that usually keep many people interested in this kind of work, from being able to launch their dream of farming .

With the help from ReBuilding Center’s Community Outreach manager Edward Hill, who happens to have a background in urban farming, Shantae and Arthur in less than 60 days, were able to  finish writing a business plan, establish land agreements, and create a farm plan that supported a formal partnership with the Oregon Food Bank on nearly an acre of fully equipped land in NE Portland.

“We are so excited to have Edward and ReBuilding Center on board, their assistance has been instrumental in getting us past many of the barriers we were experiencing to getting an actual farm site in the City and large enough to create sustainable cooperative revenue.”

Additionally, education contracts with Black Parents Initiative (BPI), purchasing agreement with KAIROS School and local Food Prescription programs, and watershed enhancement funding, MudBone Grown is leading an environmental and community economic stewardship coalition that is modeled on national programs like Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI and Detroit Black Farmers in Michigan.

“Farmers, by nature, are innovative problem solvers,” said Shavers, who will lead the crop planning for the team. “We can be most effective by working toward solutions in a collaborative manner with other community groups who have been trying to leverage for a position regionally.”

MudBone Grown, formed as a LLC, focusing on promoting inter-generational community-rooted farming methods that create “measurable and sustainable environmental, social, cultural, and economic improvements.” MudBone will also be providing STEM/STEAM-based education, workshops, and outreach through things like on-farm demonstrations, hands-on engagement with local schools, and adult jobs training services for both interested small farmers and the general public.

Johnson is thrilled at the pace of success this year already; “Our community partners recognize that local agriculture is critical to healthy lives and a strong economy for communities that have historically had marginal participation in the local food economy.”

Donation Strengthens ReFind Education & Class Offerings

Dawn St. Clair, Rick Pogue and Stan Pulliam with Heffernan Insurance dropped by the ReBuilding Center last week to present the ReBuilding Center with a check for $3,000 to support ReBuilding Center’s ReFind Education Program, which provides hands-on educational classes for adults and kids on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials.

This important donation will help support our ReFind Education program by supplying our shop with much needed equipment such as chop saws, nail guns, band saws and other various hand tools which will strengthen our capacity to bring hands-on learning opportunities to 7th graders and basic carpentry and DIY classes to adults!

“The support couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Dave Lowe, Volunteer Services Manager, “we need new equipment and replacement parts and are so grateful for Heffernan’s support!” ReFind Education offers a three-day class entitled “Three Stringed Theory,” through Portland Public Schools’ 7th Grade Maker Experience. Students from Beverly Cleary Middle School were building three string guitars when Heffernan’s associates came to present their check. 

Thank you, Heffernan!

Intern at the ReBuilding Center!

Expand and learn new skills while working with a creative nonprofit team striving to build community through reuse! View our list of internship opportunities below. If you are interested in any of the current offerings, please email communications@rebuildingcenter.org or fill out an application online: 


Media Content Creator Internship

 Are you a Facebook maven? An Instagram junkie? Do you like taking photos and writing? Do you enjoy unearthing hidden stories then sharing them via social media? If you’ve answered “yes!” to all, then you might be an ideal candidate for the Media Content Creator internship. If you’re committed to social change and using cool content to make that happen, apply now. 

If you are interested in this internship, please email communications@rebuildingcenter.org and fill out an application online.


Community Outreach Internship

At the ReBuilding Center, community is at the heart of our mission, and the Community Outreach internship is perfect for someone who wants to roll up their sleeves and dive into helping forge, develop and manage community resources. If you like to write, create plans and be around people and organizations that are in sync with the ReBuilding Center’s mission to use existing resources in new and inspiring ways, apply now. 

If you are interested in this internship, please fill out an application online.


Digital Media Marketing Analyst

Do you believe in the power of numbers? Are you a self-described data geek? More importantly - do you believe that numbers can help tell the bigger social media story? If this rings your career path bell, then you might be our next Digital Media Marketing Analyst intern. Use your talents with stats to help the ReBuilding Center further their mission rooted in community, recycling and reuse. Apply now. 

If you are interested in this internship, please email communications@rebuildingcenter.org and fill out an application online.


Court Liaison Internship

2005 (2).jpg

If you’re pondering a career in law, criminal justice or social work, the Court Liaison internship is a golden opportunity to gain exposure to criminal and restorative justice efforts. Learn how the ReBuilding Center works with organizations to further our community building mission by creating positive change via those fulfilling court-mandated volunteer work. This is meaningful, important and rewarding work — and if you want to connect with our justice system in a very real and hands-on way, apply now. 

If you are interested in this internship, please email dave@rebuildingcenter.org and fill out an application online.

Aaron Green, Woodworker: Making Old Things New Again

Aaron Green’s woodworking business is called “The Regrainery,” which references the craft of finding elegance in aged and used woods. The Regrainery breathes new life and purpose into these aged materials through creative design and inspired innovation.  Aaron finds the used lumber at salvage stores like the ReBuilding Center. He notes what the wood was once used for: flooring from a torn down house, siding from an old barn, rafter beams from the early 1900’s, etc.  He then planes and shapes the wood to fit into new designs he has created for furniture, shelving, and even jewelry.  These newly crafted products are then sold to local customers, on view at street festivals, and at trade shows. One can see the symbiotic relationship between craft persons like Aaron and the resources of the ReBuilding Center. We sat down to chat with Aaron about his practice, thoughts on sustainability, and revealing the hidden beauty in reclaimed materials. See the interview below.

How did you come up with the title of your business: The Regrainery?

The name “The Regrainery” didn’t come to me right away but was the product of several weeks of brainstorming with my wife and friends. I wanted a name that could represent my business goals, that would reveal what we were about as a business without being a dead give-away, and that had an appealing ring to it. I settled on The Regrainery because I felt it implied a sense of industriousness, it held the prefix “re” (which would allude to our sustainability and creative-reuse values), and because it sounded compelling.

Why do you use old, recycled materials in the products you create? Sustainability? Aesthetics? Cost?

I use old, recycled materials for a few reasons. First, I love how reclaimed woodworking looks when it is finished. When you get a chance, check out what the guys at Stumptown Reclaimed make. They are reclaimed masters! Also, with only a few woody exceptions, I think working with reclaimed wood ends up looking better than new wood (but that’s just me!). Second, a personal value of mine is restoration, and my work allows me to literally take old wood and make it into something new again. I love planing away old, rough surfaces to reveal the beauty hidden beneath decades of dirt and weathering. Third, I believe in sustainable building practices, and since wood can last for centuries, I see no reason to buy new stock if your neighborhood reclaimed or salvage store can sell you the same thing (and at a better price!).

Do you have a philosophy related to your use of recycled versus new materials?

Absolutely. The Regrainery began as a philosophy before it became something practical. It stemmed from my belief that the run-down, the weathered, and the broken can be restored. I believe almost anything (e.g. people, gardens, communities, and wood) can be made new. I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. So, by using recycled and salvaged materials in my work, I get to practically explore a very rewarding process that I don’t think new materials can offer.

"I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. " -Aaron Green, The Regrainery

"I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. "

-Aaron Green, The Regrainery

Did you have any woodworking experience before creating your business?

My Dad made much of my family’s furniture while I was growing up, so I had many opportunities to watch and learn from him. Outside of him, however, I’ve just built as a hobbyist.

Do you have a workshop where you build your products?

Yes, I work out of a garage space that I rent from a neighbor in the NE Alberta area.

How/where do you find customers?

Initially my customers came from friends and friends of friends, but eventually I expanded to a retail pop-up shop (street fairs mostly) model. Last summer I was at nearly every street fair in Portland and had the opportunity to sell directly to customers as well as acquire leads on commissions.

Do you sell any of your products through shops or stores?

Just my online shop!

Do you sell you products at street fairs?

Yes, beginning in 2016 I sold at over a dozen street fairs around Portland. Keep an eye out for us this Spring and Summer at your local street fairs! I’ll be partnering with other small business too, including a painter and a leather worker!

Do you collect materials before you know what you’re going to use them for? Or do you have a design in mind and select materials to fit the design?

Generally, I don’t. As much as I’d love to buy every last stick of old-growth at the ReBuilding Center, my garage space and budget always have the last word. Instead, I buy my wood after having drawn up a design for commissions.

Do you ever wonder about the previous life of the materials you use?

All the time. But, I usually don’t have access to that information. One day I plan to implement the stories of my materials on my website. Personally, I think knowing where something came from, or who may have owned it or used it, adds huge value to the material.

Do you have any employees?

While I have hired friends and my brother to help me with street fairs, I am the sole designer and builder and business guy behind the operation.

Have you gotten any materials from the ReBuilding Center? What kinds?

Yes! I source around 85% of my materials from the ReBuilding Center. I have bought everything from ship-lap, flooring, rafters, ply-wood, doweling, hand-railing, and once even a 19’ glu-lam beam at the ReBuilding Center.

How did you hear about the ReBuilding Center?

I used to live near N Haight & N Mason, so the Mississippi business district was typically my haunt. When I got into woodworking, even as a hobbyist, I found the ReBuilding Center because I happened to walk by. What a wonderful find! 

HOLLA: Challenging the Narrative for Kids of Color in America’s Whitest City

Holla the Movie, is coming to the Rebuilding Center.

Holla chronicles the organization of the same name, founded by African-American Pastor, Eric Knox, to mentor kids of color in predominantly white and white-taught schools.

The film explores the lives of three young women on the Holla basketball team, as mentorship subtly transforms their experience. Through tough love and tenderness the kids learn to hurdle obstacles and adversity in a system biased against them.  But learning is a two-way street—the viewer also sees the educators and mentors in the organization changing and growing through their work.

Featuring straight talk from notable intellectuals Robert Munoz of Portland State University and Diane Watson of Lewis & Clark College, as well as raw testimonials from mentors and mentees, Holla is an informative, humorous, and heartbreaking look at the issues that face our city and our nation, as we struggle to fulfill the promise of integration and equal opportunity.

Holla features select tracks from Portland’s nationally recognized music scene, including songs from Tre Hardson (Pharcyde), rising star Liz Vice, Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis and the band Joseph.

Stay tuned to hear more about the Holla girls and film. A follow-up project is currently being made following-up with the girls seven years later. ReBuilding Center intends to feature both documentaries on their touch-screen kiosks in the Commons on their property on N. Mississippi Ave. 

Holla Mentors is a culturally responsive mentorship organization. Since it’s inception, it has built a community of socially active neighbors, local entrepreneurs and committed professionals who are willing to foster healthy relationships with economically challenged and at risk children and teens within the structures of the educational system.

Lean PDX Helps Streamline the RBC Shopping Experience

A streamlining process to improve the shopping experience at the ReBuilding Center (RBC) started with a band of “secret shoppers" made up of five Lean Portland volunteers and five RBC employees. The RBC Executive Director, Stephen Reichard, and Manager, Tom Patzkowski, were working the floor so the staff could work to improve the organization.  The “secret shoppers” were tasked to find materials for typical DIY projects, like building a dog house or replacing an exterior door. This allowed the staff and volunteers to gain a first-hand experience at what it is like to be a customer. 

The second workshop explored long term goals, identifying projects where Lean could consult with the RBC through 2017.  They also designed an experiment to improve customers’ first time shopping experience.  They promptly responded to the things they discovered in their studies and made a mockup kiosk with signage that identifies and explanes how to navigate the warehouses and make a purchases.

They summarized the results:

It was a lot of fun, and we saw about half the people pause and read the sign – some even taking tape measures (a key tool) with them as they went to go shopping. It was a great example of getting real-time feedback on something, without spending a lot of time planning to make it perfect. Our follow-up was that the team decided to continue to get feedback on the kiosk, and possibly create two additional kiosks for the additional entrances.
100_1304.JPG

The next step over the next few months will be to identify opportunities for improving RBC donation and checkout processes. For the long term they would like to develop plans to increase capacity of the center while creating a more satisfying environment for their employees and their guests.

Oh, What A Year!

What a year! February 2016 seems like eons ago—when Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve the nation’s first ordinance mandating the deconstruction of all homes scheduled for demolition built prior to 1917. (These homes represent about 33% of single-family home demolitions.) You can watch the Council debate here; it starts around minute 70 and includes testimony from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s (BPS) Shawn Wood (1:19) and yours truly, Stephen Reichard, the ReBuilding Center's director (1:37). 

Flyer created for event

Flyer created for event

This landmark resolution will create jobs, increase safety related to lead and asbestos materials, and divert 4,000 tons of building materials annually for reuse. This is a crucial and pioneering first step, and we will work hard in 2017 to adapt to the growth of the deconstruction sector and drive further progress.

 

February also saw the dedication of the Sons of Haiti’s new food cart lot just to the south of the ReBuilding Center (RBC). A true community-wide partnership, dozens of supporters from across the neighborhood donated nearly $11,000, which was matched by $40,000 from the Portland Development Commission, in the effort to rebuild the lot to bring it into compliance with city code. This rebuilding effort established a significant revenue source for one of the last remaining Black-owned enterprises on Mississippi Avenue.

In March there was the Building Materials Reuse Association’s (BMRA) bi-annual gathering in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fresh off our legislative victory in Portland, the ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction Services Manager, Doug Lichter; BPS’s Shawn Wood; and Metro’s Bryce Jacobsen told the story of the four-year effort to enshrine deconstruction as the preferred method over demolition. A local group of deconstruction industry representatives has submitted a proposal to host the fall 2017 BMRA DeCon Conference in Portland—the new epicenter of deconstruction.

Remember York? A one-man play about the first African American to the Pacific Northwest?  We co-produced this play with the Native American Youth and Family Association before an audience of 500 at Jefferson High School Auditorium in early March. 

Elaine & Milhouse pose in front of their house getting a fresh new paint job

Elaine & Milhouse pose in front of their house getting a fresh new paint job

More coalition building followed in the spring as the RBC’s Volunteer Services partnered with the African American Alliance for Home Ownership to establish a new tradition—Day of Service. More than 35 volunteers conducted much needed repairs on five homes in Portland’s North/Northeast Corridor for homeowners at risk of losing their homes. 

7th grade class posing with their new 3-string instruments

7th grade class posing with their new 3-string instruments

Flyer for adult education classes taking place in the RBC workshop

Flyer for adult education classes taking place in the RBC workshop

With the time, energy, and vision of more than a dozen volunteers, in 2016 our ReFind Center was reborn as the Education Program, offering classes and much, much more in the ReBuilding Center’s fully equipped workshop. In 2016, 402 Portland Public School seventh-grade students came to learn about the physics of sound while designing and building their own three-stringed instruments, documented here in Three-Stringed Theory. Additionally, the Education Program offered 14 adult classes on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials. Over 70 participants enrolled in hands-on topics such as “Basic Carpentry for Women” and “Build and Play a Cajon (Peruvian Box Drum).” 

The Village Coalition, a network of urban villages and their allies representing Portland Metro’s houseless community, got its start at the ReBuilding Center in March. We hosted 25 meetings fueled by generous food donations from Mississippi Pizza. When the Village Coalition meetings recently grew beyond the size of the RBC’s conference room with the involvement of many village residents and allies, we facilitated a move to the Albina Youth Opportunity School

Loki with her tiny house built in the RBC lumberyard

Loki with her tiny house built in the RBC lumberyard

The Village Coalition inspired an innovative private sector initiative to build hard tents or “pods” for Portland houseless communities, 18 of which were built in the final quarter of 2016. With the incredible support of City Repair, Congregation Beth Israel, Castaway Portland, Tivnu, Oregon Tradeswomen, Constructing Hope, Portland Youth Builders, Natural Felt, National Urban Housing, Center for Public Interest and Design, and many more—including Andy Olshin and the Village Coalition—we will build up to 100 more pods in 2017. The ReBuilding Center continues to supply building materials (along with the help of Lowe’s and Parr Lumber) for this initiative as well as transporting the tiny houses around town.

During the summer, nearly 100 individuals came together to advise the RBC as it considers re-developing the north end of its property. That report has provided RBC with the invaluable wisdom of the community as we seek to leverage our space to the fullest potential to expand our mission to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of our community. 

ReBuilding Center Japan in Nagano

ReBuilding Center Japan in Nagano

An extraordinary spoken word event at the Mississippi Street Fair; the construction of a new reused materials studio at XRAY.fm; the opening of ReBuilding Center Japan; the first of a new annual Labor Day community celebration at the RBC, complete with the lumberyard music stage (this year's event honored the retirement and service to community of long-time Community Outreach Manager Linda Hunter); and so much more—we could not and would not have realized so much with the support of so many of you.  

And let’s not forget Lean Portland, an extraordinary group of professionals who are giving up their Saturdays pro bono to help the RBC become a more efficient and effective organization to better meet the needs of our guests and our community. When you visit our store in 2017, you’ll notice “lean system” efforts underway!

With the support of the Energy Trust of Oregon, we converted to LED lighting. With the support of the Autzen Foundation and the Portland Development Commission, we were able to undertake a feasibility study to explore the expansion of our space and mission. With the support of the Collins Foundation, we are well prepared for the challenges of successful implementation of the deconstruction ordinance. 

We deconstructed 20 homes and dozens of kitchens, garages, bathrooms, and barns in 2016. These projects diverted nearly 3,000 tons of materials from the landfill; saved more than 40,000 gallons of water; and prevented some 500 tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. 

None of this would have been possible without the assistance of nearly 2,000 volunteers, providing us with more than 20,000 hours of your precious time. This was your year—from ushering people to their seats at York last March, to repairing homes in June, cheering on the spoken word in July, and building sleeping pods in the fall. And each and every day, processing materials, putting them on the store shelves, and taking them off the shelves again to give to our guests. Our customers, volunteers, supporters, and staff—the ReBuilding Center community without whom we would not even be here. 

We may remember 2016 as an extraordinarily difficult year—one that may well change the trajectory of our nation and our planet. In what may be challenging times ahead, do not forget to recall what you accomplished this year—with others, in community. You’re amazing. Thank you.

Cover photo by: Carlyle Ellis