Recycling Kindness

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By: Ella Rose Kelly

This April 11th will be 14 years at the ReBuilding Center, and I am so diggin’ on it. In addition to this job, I’ve had 72 other jobs in Portland—25 years of construction work, a fire watch, and many cashiering jobs. This is my favorite job.

It’s a bizarre story of what led me to work at the ReBuilding Center. I had been cashiering for a while at Big City Small World Produce, and there was a young lady, Nora, who bought food there all the time. She worked at the ReBuilding Center. One day, Nora overheard me telling someone I needed a second job because I was buying a house. She said that the ReBuilding Center was hiring, so I came down and applied. I was looking for a job, but this job came and got me.

I haven’t always loved my jobs, but I always like them. You don’t always feel good when you start a job—you might be uncomfortable because of the unknown. But once you know it becomes a part of you and you can work it. I had already been a customer at the ReBuilding Center before I started working here. I was always impressed as a customer because the ReBuilding Center was the place to come to find what you need at a reasonable price. When I started working here, though, it was my first time learning about reuse and sustainability. I was nervous about learning everything that we do here. It was hard learning… but just like riding a bike—once I learned, I never stopped. I’m all about saving the Earth now. It’s part of my being.

Because of my past jobs as a cashier, I was already familiar with meeting people. Meeting people is right up my alley. I get to meet phenomenal people from all over. I like to be personal with customers because our community is like family. I help them with ReBuilding Center questions, but I also ask them how they are doing. I encourage them when they are hurting. Sometimes customers come in sad, but leave happy. That means something to me. That’s not recycling wood, that’s recycling kindness. We all have goodness to share and an ability to show love. The more goodness we share and love we show, the better we can make the world.

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Andrey Interviewing Ella Rose

I am very proud and honored to be an Assistant Store Manager. I was nervous at first, but I am getting more familiar now. I am learning things one at a time and walking the walk. It’s important to be there for our co-workers and that is what I have always tried to do. As an Assistant Manager, I have been a part of the Executive Director search. I am excited to participate. It’s a learning experience and it’s a good experience I am diggin’ it. I believe the most important quality for our next Executive Director to have is heart. They need to have the heart of the people, the heart of the employees, and the heart of the community.

What we do—we’re bad to the bone, we’re amazing. We give back to the community. We are a monument and we are here to stay. Sometimes I worry that we will lose guests because of issues, like parking or new buildings, but no matter what, the guests will still come. What gives me hope is hearing our guests say, “I’m glad the ReBuilding Center is here. I’m glad you aren’t leaving us.” My advice to us is to be encouraged and to never give up. We must stand our ground and keep supporting the sustainability cycle. Doing this will benefit the Earth. And when we save the Earth, we save ourselves.

I love this place… I really do. The ReBuilding Center is my family.

You can give back today! Every dollar you donate from now until December 31st through our Give!Guide campaign will help the ReBuilding Center continue to build a culture of equity and reuse everywhere!

We thank you in advance for your ongoing support; without it, we couldn’t do what we do every day.

Student Spotlight: Lynne Caldwell

By: Aaron Green

On occasion, our ReBuilding Center education staff has the privilege of receiving feedback from former students who let us know what they’ve been up to since taking a class with us. Sometimes those students are first-timers, and other times, as in Lynne Caldwell’s case, they’re six-time returning students. Wow! We asked Lynne if she’d be willing to let us interview her for our newsletter, and thankfully, she agreed! We hope you enjoy her story and find as much inspiration from it as we do.

A few years ago, before taking any carpentry classes with us, Lynne remembers wanting to try to build garden boxes. After selecting a few eight-foot boards from Home Depot and having them cut down to size, she grabbed her drill and got to work.

But, as she recalls, “I had no prior training… I had only used a hand saw but never a power saw of any kind.” Lynne did accomplish assembling her garden boxes, but afterward, she knew that having even a little more knowledge and access to power tools would propel her confidence forward during her next project.

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Today, six classes with the Education team later, Lynne reflects, “I have learned so much from these classes from simple things, like why the little metal end is on the tape measure, to big things like becoming confident using a miter saw. The miter saw education and confidence has been the biggest thing for me and has made a huge difference in the projects that I feel comfortable trying.”

Lynne has gone on to build benches for her home, a work table for her garage, and she even replaced her garbage disposal after taking one of our Plumbing Basics classes. “One of my proudest accomplishments was replacing our garbage disposal… This is something that I have paid a handyman to do in the past, and I did it myself. And no leaks!”

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Recently, Lynne built her very own coffee table out of a salvaged slab of basketball court wood. A self-proclaimed semi-regular at the ReBuilding Center, Lynne noticed a few big sections of basketball court material in the lumber yard one day. “I love basketball,” she tells us. “But I couldn’t think of what to do with the big sections. Then…I found smaller pieces broken down with the other flooring [and] I decided to try to make something.” Wanting the colored stripes natural to the old game flooring to show, Lynne did little to strip the wood after she got it home. She tells us that she miter-cut four pieces of wood to make a frame, and then glued those pieces together around the flooring. A couple layers of polyurethane later, and Lynne had herself a fantastic new table, made completely by herself.

When we asked Lynne what she might get up to next, she said, “I am always trolling the RBC for ideas [but] I plan to build a martial arts belt display for my son.” Lynne says she’s also working on a large bench for her porch. “I plan to add cushions too so that I can take a nap. Covered porch napping bench!”

We also asked Lynne what’s brought her back to the shop for classes so many times. She nearly brought us to tears when she said, “The instructors are really wonderful! I can’t say enough about how welcoming and patient they are. They show enthusiasm for their work, and they aren’t judgmental with beginner’s questions. As a middle-aged woman I was afraid of feeling intimidated in seeking out beginning educational opportunities in using tools. [These] instructors have always been super pleasant, organized, patient, and encouraging.”

Thanks, Lynne! We can’t wait to see pictures of your son’s martial arts belt display and, of course, the napping bench! We hope to see you in the shop again soon.

You can give back today! Every dollar you donate from now until December 31st through our Give!Guide campaign will help the ReBuilding Center continue to build a culture of equity and reuse everywhere!

We thank you in advance for your ongoing support; without it, we couldn’t do what we do every day.

Today's Finds: November

Today’s Finds is a weekly collection of some of our favorite items from the ReBuilding Center store! Are you signed up to receive the Finds via e-mail? Sign up here or, if you already receive our newsletter, update your preferences in MailChimp.

  • View the November 8th Finds here.

  • View the November 15th Finds here.

Did you see an item on the Finds and claimed it for your own? We love seeing your reuse projects! Share with us at

You can give back today! Every dollar you donate from now until December 31st through our Give!Guide campaign will help the ReBuilding Center continue to build a culture of equity and reuse everywhere!

We thank you in advance for your ongoing support; without it, we couldn’t do what we do every day.

Give!Guide Announcement

Dear Friends, Neighbors, Family, and ReBuilders:

The ReBuilding Center has once again been selected to be a part of the Willamette Week's Give!Guide, a local effort that aims to highlight and support amazing Portland nonprofits by leveraging year-end giving.

How does it work?
Give HERE to the ReBuilding Center between now and December 31. Donations of $100 or more are matched 1:1 by our business partners, ¿Por Qué No? Taquería and Mississippi Pizza!

You will also be entered to win gift certificates to spend at the ReBuilding Center, either to attend a DIY class or to shop at our Store. And, if you're 35 or younger, you get a free pint from StormBreaker Brewing!

But wait, there's more!
If you donate on Big Give Days, you'll be entered to win HUUUGE Give!Guide-sponsored prizes like finger-licking ice-cream parties, luxurious shopping expeditions, spectacular getaways, VIP entertainment packages, and much more! 

Are you in?
Every dollar you donate from now until December 31 will help the ReBuilding Center keep tons of materials (literally!) out of the waste stream and in community hands; offer more and more relevant classes to makers, creators, and homeowners; support the building of more tiny houses for our houseless neighbors; continue creating pathways to green jobs for folks who have been excluded from making a living in the trades; and so much more. 

We thank you in advance for your ongoing support; without it, we couldn't do what we do every day. 

P.S. The ReBuilding Center is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization,
so all of your donations are tax deductible.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

By: Andrey Bodnar

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It all started off with the train being in the way. It was a Saturday and I was excited get to work for a special assignment, so I left my car at New Seasons and looked for Alison in front of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s new location.

Our mission was to pick up a donation check from OnPoint Community Credit Union, because they selected the ReBuilding Center to honor us as part of their Grand Opening celebration on Fremont and North Williams.

We talked with the OnPoint Community Credit Union team members and they told us about their work, and about how proud they are to work there because of all they do for the community. We shared about our work at the ReBuilding Center and what we do, from helping with houseless villages to Girls Build to our Day of Service. We also talked about all the building materials that flow through the ReBuilding Center and get diverted from the waste stream.  

There was even a face painter there… Alison and I talked about it and decided: “Sure, let’s do it.” So, we got our faces painted!  

After that, we went inside, and they presented us with the $1,000 check and took our pictures. We talked about the possibility of their staff coming here to volunteer, and I shared the idea that maybe some of our people to get a behind-the-scenes look at the banking world!  

Afterward, Alison and I walked back to the ReBuilding Center to put the check in the office for safe keeping until Monday.

Engaging with different businesses in the neighborhood is important, because the more connections we make, the better. Sure, this kind of outreach helps with fundraising, but more importantly it brings us together. The more we all know about each other’s organizations, the more we can accomplish together.

They were an amazing team, who clearly loved working there and it felt good being around. For the rest of the day I walked around with a dragon on my face!


Music + DeConstruction Intertwine

By: Mike Richards

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According to Douglas, I’ve been here 13 years. I originally took the job because I needed to pay my mortgage. I used to work with contractors, and we did a lot of bad things. I didn’t know about asbestos… nobody said anything about dangers. I came here with that same mindset, but the site manager said: “STOP! That’s asbestos!” I was trying to shake this furnace apart and I thought I was doing my job. That was the first time anyone had explained it to me. That opened my eyes.

And then the part where we save stuff instead of trash stuff. At my past job, we’d be taking stuff apart – a beautiful cabinet – I’d say: “don’t you want to keep that?” And my boss would say: “no, I don’t work with used material. It takes too much time to work with.” I didn’t really become conscious of this stuff until I came to work at the ReBuilding Center. In my old job, we sent so much to the landfill that could have been saved. Here I got to thinking about it and then I started feeling guilty about all the waste.

I think the ReBuilding Center is going to keep striving forward. People get a little uptight about change. It’s a scary thing for most of us. I’m a musician and I used to be afraid of computers. Now I have a computer, and I do all my music on a computer. It’s going to work. Keep our heads up. Work together. If there’s a storm, we just work through it together. We have a strong team of people.

Let’s put it this way: I came up here from Chicago at the age of 11. When I was in Chicago I was exposed to some of the best musicians in the world without knowing it. People in the park, walking by clubs…when I moved to Portland, I got to play the guitar in church. The pastor said he would teach me but only if I would play in church. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that because I wanted to go big time. He said you could be big time in the Church. I liked our pastor but he scared me.

In the 6th grade, I had an acoustic guitar and I started taking lessons but I didn’t like where it was going. Now I look back and it was going in a good place. My teacher couldn’t play any BB King – he was trying to teach me notes and to sight read, he started me out with Jingle Bells. I was a guitar player before I actually played the guitar. I used to tell people I was a guitar player before I had ever touched one so then I had to rise to the occasion. I used to knock on the doors of all the best guitar players in town and get them to show me how to play. At 12 I started my own three-piece band. At our first gig, nobody sang, so I just made up a song. Pay backs the Dog! After that, people would always say that when they saw me, like in the grocery store: Pay backs the dog! They would sing my own song back at me.

I’m into vintage instruments. Wood that’s over a hundred years old doesn’t just have a look quality to it, it has a tone quality. After getting into vintage I never wanted a new guitars. It’s only now that new companies are trying to go back and make instruments that sound more like vintage, using vintage wood, hand building. A few years ago, Gibson got in trouble for using rosewood from the rain forests. Good wood is harder and harder to get, so when we’re deconstructing I’ve got a love for the wood. I light up when I see it. I say: “look at all those guitars.”

Creating Meaning with Materials

By: Alexandra Ferrara

In an effort to realize our mission of making a material difference, the ReBuilding Center donates reclaimed building materials to like-minded local organizations and projects. You can learn more about that here. One of these projects includes Agape Village, a village for the houseless in Southeast Portland.


On a dreary afternoon, I hop into our newly wrapped box truck with Alberto at the wheel. We spot Jon in the big truck just up the road on North Mississippi Avenue, ready to lead the way. In our trucks we are carrying wooden and metal cabinets, reclaimed lath and lumber, and about half a dozen TriMet bus stop roofs.

As we inch slowly east on I-84 with rain splashing on the windshield, I cannot help but feel incredibly grateful for my job and the opportunities to witness the ways in which materials can have such a large impact in our community. Our store on North Mississippi Avenue is a magical place to be, but I find it just as special to follow the materials from the store to their new homes away from the ReBuilding Center.

Agape Village was born through the efforts of Central Church of the Nazarene and their houseless neighbors. The village resides along a hillside adjacent to the church. As Alberto turns the corner of the parking lot, we make our way up the hill to a breathtaking view of the autumn trees over I-205. As our eyes shift up the hillside to the village, we marvel in its innovation. There are all different types of homes, made from all sorts of materials. Alberto “wows” at a semi truck trailer converted into a tiny home—it is clear that creativity and resourcefulness found their place at this village.

In true Portland fashion, the rain does not put a damper on anyone’s spirits or motivation to get a job done. We meet up with an Agape Village volunteer and resident in the newest cluster of homes currently being built. They start unloading materials with the help of Jon and Alberto, while I have the easy task of snapping some photos.

As I look back at these photos, I see the power in our community’s ability to create meaning with materials. I hope you see the same. To learn more about Agape Village and how you can get involved in the community project, click here.  

Today's Finds: October

Today’s Finds is a weekly collection of some of our favorite items from the ReBuilding Center store! Are you signed up to receive the Finds via e-mail? Sign up here or, if you already receive our newsletter, update your preferences in MailChimp.

  • View the October 11th Finds here.

  • View the October 18th Finds here.

  • View the October 25th Finds here.

Did you see an item on the Finds and claimed it for your own? We love seeing your reuse projects! Share with us at


Upcoming Community Events

There is never a lack of activities happening in our community. Below are just a few we recommend checking out!

Priced Out: Gentrification in Portland, Oregon Documentary Screening

  • Date: October 8th

  • Time: 6:30PM - 8:30PM

  • Location: Q Center Auditorium

The Q Center is hosting a screening of the documentary, “Priced Out”, with a discussion to follow the film. “Priced Out” is an investigative and personal look at how skyrocketing housing prices are displacing Portland's black community and reshaping the entire city.

BIG October Planting Party

  • Date: October 13th and 14th

  • Time: 10:00AM - 2:00PM

  • Location: Boise Eliot Nature Grove

The Boise Eliot Nature Grove is has over 500 plants to put in the ground and needs your help! Check out their website to sign-up to volunteer.

Alberta Abbey Neighborhood Party

  • Date: October 13th

  • Time: 10:00AM - 10:00PM

  • Location: 126 NE Alberta Street

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives is hosting an Alberta Abbey Block Party featuring food, art, performances and vendors from NE Portland’s King and Humboldt neighborhoods. All are welcome!

North Portland Tool Library

  • Date: October 16th

  • Time: 6:00PM - 8:00PM

  • Location: Historic Kenton Firehouse

Repair PDX is partnering with the North Portland Tool Library to be on hand to repair your broken small appliances, bikes, garments, and other textiles.

Oregon Archives Crawl

  • Date: October 20th

  • Time: 11:00AM - 3:00PM

  • Location: Start at Oregon Historical Society, Multnomah County Library, or City of Portland Archives and Records Center

The Oregon Archives Crawl is back! Portland-Area Archives is partnering with over 30 locations to showcase how communities, beliefs, practices, and preferences have changed over the years.

Lost City, Living Memory: Vanport Oral History Screening + Exhibit

  • Date: October 21st

  • Time: 3:30PM - 5:00PM

  • Location: PSU Smith Memorial Student Union

Join the The Vanport Mosaic for a screening of “Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Through the Voices of Its Residents” with special guests including former Vanport residents.

Family Photos and Community Memory

  • Date: October 28th

  • Time: 2:00PM - 4:00PM

  • Location: North Portland Library

The Black Life Experiential Research Group presents Family Photos and Community Memory to share photos, stories and conversation around the beauty and importance of family photography and community memories. For more information, send an email to

Driving Ride-Along

By: Alison Dennis

This past month I had the opportunity to ride along with our Driving team, and see the ReBuilding Center from the vantage of a passenger’s seat.

The first stop was at a warehouse in North Portland to pick up a large furniture donation. The warehouse crew fork lifted pallets of boxes and we moved them onto the box truck. What struck me as we worked was how much life and camaraderie there was among our team, and that the people working in the warehouse seemed to light up in our driving team’s presence.

Take away: No matter who is on shift, it feels good in our store. I’ll never take that feeling for granted – the feeling of working somewhere where people lift each other up.

During the day I got to ride along with both Jon and Alberto. Jon talked to me like a taxi driver as we drove, and asked me some of the most thoughtful questions that I’ve been asked about my work and life in a long time – the kind of questions that struck a nerve and moved my thinking forward. There is both an ease and a diligence to the way Alberto drives, like a great dance partner who somehow manages to gracefully steer clear of other couples on the floor.

Take away: Leadership isn’t dependent on a job title, or having a desk job. Taking an active interest in our fellow people and listening fully is an act of leadership. Looking out for everyone around you is an act of leadership.

In the afternoon, we took both trucks to Northwest and collected some old doors, lumber and lighting fixtures from the basement of an apartment building. 3000 inspected each of the lights with care, and took time to show the owners (and me) some asbestos in one of the fixtures. His tone was polite and helpful, and we all left the exchange safer and smarter.

Take away: Our community work isn’t limited to special events and parades. All day, every day, our drivers are out and about, serving of ambassadors and inviting everyone to make a material difference together.

Thanks to Alberto, 3000, Jon and Josh for making me feel so welcome, putting me to work, and keeping me safe!

Where Does Your Donation Go?

By: Ian Hayes

What happens after you donate something to the ReBuilding Center? Well, sometimes, we donate it right back to someone else! The ReBuilding Center welcomes requests for donations of used building and remodeling materials from grassroots projects and organizations that are inclusive and directly benefit the local community. So far, we have donated materials to over a dozen of these projects in 2018 alone! We were able to catch up with a few of these groups to find out what they’ve been up to and how they’ve been making a material difference, hoping to inspire you with fresh ideas for your next visit.

Passion Impact, Inc.

Passion Impact, Inc. was founded in 2014 by Stefan Peierls and Brad Burns. Their mission is to provide low-income and minority high school and college students the opportunity to develop leadership skills through community service.

Stefan told us they used the wood we donated to build a large shelf that holds almost all of their office supplies, leaving more room for student meetings, trainings, and presentations. “By reusing the resources in our community,” Stefan said, “we show students that no matter how old someone or something may look, there is still tremendous value in their existence and service to the community.” We love to see so many people getting so much reuse and sharing resources with each other!

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You can learn more about Passion Impact’s volunteer opportunities here.

Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church

The Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Northeast Portland has paid host to several large families who have immigrated from Rwanda, and their teacher felt they would feel much more connected and comfortable if they could sit around a large family-style table. Jann Stowe was able to find the perfect table at the ReBuilding Center within a week of requesting the donation. It needed some refinishing, but that’s part of its story.

Jann said, “That is why I love the ReBuilding Center, it helps individuals and organizations take an idea or concept and see it through to fruition with the use of used or donated goods at a fraction of what it would cost retail. There is also something very special and tactile when you look at a finished project and see a bit of Portland history.”

We know what it’s like to have strong feelings for this city, and its welcoming community, which is why we look for opportunities to give back wherever we can. You can learn more about Sharon SDA Church on their website.

Nutz N Boltz Theater Company

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Nutz-n-Boltz was founded in 2004 by three individuals who were frustrated by the lack of quality community theater and took it upon themselves to raise the bar with a theater they built from scratch. Their name comes from the idea of building something from the ground up and creating theater as art for art’s sake. For thirteen years, they’ve been performing plays without sponsors and with minimal donations.

“We have made it on ticket sales alone and some of our own money, which is unheard of in the theatrical world,” said Justin Lazenby, co-founder and co-owner of Nutz-n-Boltz. He explained, “We’ve done this by reusing everything we can possibly reuse.”

Every year, Nutz-n-Boltz puts on about four to five performances, and each one requires a set to be custom-built for the production. Over the course of a year, the same space may pay host to a Netherlands country home, a Victorian sitting room, a farm house kitchen, or even an entire set made out of candy.

“The ReBuilding Center has helped significantly in our effort to ‘age’ our sets. Old, single-pane windows, ratchety screen-doors, and tarnished door hardware all contribute to the time and the setting of the show.” If the ReBuilding Center didn’t make these items available and affordable, Justin says, “they would probably be in a landfill or deteriorating in the weather in someone’s backyard.”

The name “Nutz N Boltz” comes from the idea of building a show from scratch, and their theater company is dedicated to “the dying art of hand-built stagecraft.” We can’t wait to see what they have to build next. If you’d like to see a show, find their season schedule here.


If your organization needs materials for a project in the Portland Metro region, we offer donations of used building and remodeling materials to local community-oriented organizations and projects. Find more information and fill out a donation request form here.

En Desafío Siempre Hay Una Recompensa

By: Victor Vidal


Empecé el 21 de mayo de 2004. Mis primos comenzaron a trabajar aquí, yo trabaje con ellos instalando techos. Tom me dio la oportunidad. Tom es una persona divertida y muy agradable. En aquel entonces, Tom comenzó a hablar algunas palabras en español. Muy amable, a Tom no le importa el color de tu piel o raza. Nos llevamos muy bien, entonces comenzamos a crear una relación. Mi primo Nico, fue quien me contó a cerca de la oportunidad de trabajo aquí. Yo Tenía 20 años, ellos me dijeron que posiblemente no me gustaría. Había mucha gente aquí con experiencia, pero Tom dijo que todavía tenía la oportunidad de poder aprender. Tom me dijo; tus parientes están aquí, ellos te pueden ayudar.

Esta es una de mis historias favoritas sobre RBC. Nos enviaron a un lugar en Washington, a dos horas de aquí. Fue mi primera experiencia ir a acampar y trabajar al mismo tiempo. Fue a fines de septiembre; la temporada de lluvias estaba comenzando. Había alrededor de seis personas.  Había un tipo llamado Dana. Él era divertido. Cuando llegamos cerca del sitio de trabajo, nos dijeron; tienes una semana para terminar el trabajo. Era una casa pequeña, un tipo de edificio de garaje. Dijeron que sería una buena idea preparar cada uno un sitio para acampar. Nunca había experimentado algo así. Estábamos en un bosque. Traje mi tienda de acampar, trajimos cosas incluyendo comida. Trabajamos el primer día, al final limpiamos los espacios para instalar la tienda de acampar. Llovía ligeramente durante la noche, pero no sabía que Dana salía a fumar. Entonces comenzó a arrojar pequeñas piedras a mi tienda, esos eran ruidos extraños. Algo como un animal salvaje. No dije nada al día siguiente. continúo haciéndolo la siguiente noche mientras yo trataba de dormir. Al día siguiente, les dije, el miércoles será mi último día, me voy a casa. Tenía miedo porque algo estaba sucediendo. Él me dijo, "espera, ¡fui yo!"  Le dije: "¡No he podido dormir!" …Y eso quedo atrapado en mi cabeza -- desde entonces no puedo ir a acampar. Fue una buena experiencia salir acampar y trabajar al mismo tiempo. Años después, tuvimos un trabajo en el centro de la ciudad ... su casa estaba en la esquina. Dana apareció me vio y dijo "hey, ¿recuerdas?"

¿Por qué elegí continuar trabajando para RBC? Porque en cada sitio de trabajo, encuentro nuevas experiencias. Cuando se corta ciertos tipos de madera, hay olores diferente. Encuentras muchas antigüedades, y eso despierta mi interés en el trabajo. Todas las personas que han venido aquí son buenas personas.

Desde que vine aquí (al país), entendí que de lo que diga, me puede meter en problemas. Mi padre siempre me dijo que siguiera recto por el sendero. Él me dijo que escuchara, basado en mi experiencia, me sugirió, cuídate y concéntrate en tu trabajo. Eso es algo que obtuve de mi padre, él me deseó suerte en ese entonces. En mi familia, soy el más tímido y callado. Al mismo tiempo, el idioma era una barrera. Mi padre está muy contento con mi promoción. Él está muy feliz. Nunca imagino que yo iba a ascender a esta posición o nivel porque dice que no me acababa de conocer... Él no entiende cómo logré esta posición.

No sé si explico esto claramente, pero haré lo mejor en mi posición para aumentar la productividad. Me gusta mucho mi trabajo. Quiero seguir creciendo. Realmente creo que es posible. aunque al momento las cosas sean difíciles. Somos un equipo de 4 o 5. Nos conocemos muy bien, tenemos contacto cercano. La diferencia se nota con 3 o 4 personas más. Con menos gente, la comunicación es fuerte y trabajamos bien juntos. Empiezo a pensar en cada una de las personas del equipo, porque hay momentos en que los veo cansados o estresados, hay ocasiones en que el trabajo es fácil y otros en los que es complicado. Siempre pienso en cómo hacer las cosas a futuro. Si los veo cansados, tengo que pensar cómo llegar al día siguiente y como motivarlos.

Creo que necesitamos más comunicación. ¿Qué aspecto tendría si nos comunicáramos de la mejor manera posible? Reuniones de líderes- exponer lo que está sucediendo, hablar sobre los trabajos que se están llevando a cabo abiertamente, no ocultar nada, porque si ocultamos cosas, será contra todos. Es menester poner todo sobre la mesa. La base de la compañía para ser de apoyo.

Necesitamos más trabajadores. Creo que sería una buena idea hacer publicidad en radio, en español e inglés. Y mencionar que hay muchos y muy Buenos beneficios en esta compañía.

Hay otras compañías que pueden ofrecer más dinero, pero estoy feliz aquí. Es menos dinero, pero vale la pena porque estoy feliz. La gente aquí es gentil. En otras compañías, las personas pueden ser codiciosas y arrogantes. Realmente me gusta estar aquí, podría estar aquí para siempre. Mi familia está feliz, tengo tiempo para mi ellos, yo estaré aquí. Hasta el día en que ustedes me digan que ya no hay trabajo para mí, estoy feliz de estar aquí.


In Challenge There is Always Reward

I started with the ReBuilding Center on May 21st, 2004. My cousin started working here first, he used to work doing roofing. Tom gave me the opportunity. Tom was a funny guy, very likeable. Back then, Tom started to speak some words in Spanish. He is very gentle - Tom doesn’t care about color of your skin or your race. We got along together very well, and started to create a relationship. My cousin Nico is the one who told me about the job opportunity here. I was 20 years old, and they told me that I might not like it. There were a lot of people here with experience, but Tom said that there was still an opportunity for me and that I could learn. Tom said that my relatives were here, and that they could help me adjust.

This is one of my favorite stories about the ReBuilding Center. We were sent to some part of Washington, about two hours from here. It was my first experience to go camping and work at the same time. It was the end of September; the rainy season was starting. There were around six people. There was a guy named Dana. He was a funny guy. When we got close to the job site, they told us you have a week. It was a small house, some type of garage building. They said it would be a good idea to prepare your camping site. I have never experienced anything like that. It was a lot of woods. I brought my tent, we brought things like food. We worked the first day, at the end we cleared out the spaces. It was light rain at night, but I didn’t know that Dana went out to smoke. And he started throwing rocks at my tent, and making weird noises, like a wild animal. I didn’t say anything. He kept doing it as I was trying to fall asleep. I told him on Wednesday it will be my last day because I was afraid something was going on. He told me, “no, it was me…” I told him that I haven’t been able to sleep. And that’s been stuck in my head ever since and I can’t go camping. It was a good experience to go out and camp and work at the same time. Years later, when I was working downtown… his house was on the corner. Dana saw me and said “hey, remember?”

Why do I choose to continue to work at RBC? Because at every job site, I find a new experience. When you are cutting certain types of wood, they smell different. You find a lot of antiques, it keeps me interested in working. All of the people who have come here are good people.

Ever since I came here (to the country), anything you say, you may fall into trouble. My father always told me to go straight on the trail. He told me to listen, gain experience, take care and focus on your job. That’s something that I got from my dad, he wished me luck back then. In my family, I am the most timid and quiet. At the same time, the language was a barrier. My dad is very happy about my promotion. He never expected that I was going to rise to a certain position or level because he says that he hasn’t known me… He doesn’t understand how I got to this position.

I don’t know if I explain this clearly, but I will do the best in my position to increase the productivity. I like my job a lot. I want to continue growing. I really think it’s possible. Things can be hard now. In DeCon, we are a team of 4 or 5. We know each other very well, we have close contact. The difference is noticed with 3 or 4 more people. With less people, the communication is strong and we work well together. I start to think about every person on the team, because there are times that I see them tired or stressed out, there are times when the job is easy and times when it is complicated. I always think about how to do things in the future. If I see them tired, I have to think about how to come the next day and motivate them.

I think we need more communication. What would it look like if we were communicating at our best? Meetings, leaders – we’d talk about what’s going on, talk about the jobs that are going on openly, don’t hide anything, because if we are hiding things, it will work against everyone. We should put everything on the table. The foundation of the company is to support each other.

We need more workers. I think it would be a good idea to advertise on the radio, in Spanish and English. And mention that there are many and very good benefits in this company.

There are other companies that may offer more money, but I am happy here. It is less money but worth it because I am happy. People here are gentle. At other companies, people can be greedy and arrogant. I really like to be here, I could be here forever. My family is happy, I have time for my family, time to be here. Until the day you guys tell me that I cannot work for you, I am happy to be here.

A DeConstructionist's Treasure

DeConstruction, the art of dismantling for reuse, is a more affordable and environmentally sustainable alternative to demolition. DeConstruction reduces waste, promotes reuse and recycling, and minimizes the impact on our region’s natural resources.

The ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction team oftentimes deconstruct homes built over 100 years ago. The team is able to salvage up to 85% of a structure’s component parts, however, building materials aren’t always the only items that can be salvaged.

Jose Garcia, a ReBuilding Center DeConstructionist, gave us a sneak peak into some of the items he has found while deconstructing. These treasures can be found almost anywhere -  in walls, in between shelves, or under floor boards. Jose believes it is important to save these pieces of history and has a passion for collecting these deconstructionist’s treasures.

Take your time looking through this gallery. The details of these items are fascinating, and, in Jose’s words, “can tell a whole story of the history of a home.”

ReBuilding Center in the Media

KBOO Interview

Earlier this summer, ReBuilding Center Salvage Specialist, Mayela Alvarado, spoke with Luna Flores on KBOO Radio. Mayela’s passion for the ReBuilding Center is infectious and although we may be a little biased, listening to her spotlight on the ReBuilding Center is incredibly captivating! You can listen to Mayela’s Interview, starting at -39.20, here.



Visionkeepers TV Series

Towards the beginning of this year, the ReBuilding Center was featured on the Reclaiming and Rebuilding episode of VisionKeepers. The Visionkeepers TV Series documents individuals and organizations across the United States that work with their communities to embrace the possibilities of sustainable living. We are proud to be featured in this episode, alongside other impactful organizations! You can watch the episode here.


ReCap: Community Events

Annual Day of Service

ReBuilding Center staff and volunteers spent Saturday, August 11th, tackling a wide range of minor repair projects for eight North and inner Northeast neighborhood homeowners. As highlighted in August’s newsletter, the ReBuilding Center partners every year with the African American Alliance for Homeownership for our Annual Day of Service.

We had a very enjoyable day working with tools, meeting people in our neighborhood, and building friendships. The ReBuilding Center would like to thank everyone involved in fostering another successful Day of Service!

Dropbox Derby

This Labor Day, staff and volunteers from the ReBuilding Center participated in the second annual Dropbox Derby - a design/build challenge using salvaged materials to raise money for a good cause. Along with 26 other teams full of innovative and unique talent, Valerie Carey, Andy Grummon, Diana Nelson, and Sam Serling-Sutton, had four hours to create a salvaged masterpiece that fit with the theme, “A Seat at the Table.”

The ReBuilding Center team put their creative minds together to construct a table that transforms into a bench. The table/bench was sold during the silent auction to benefit Oregon Tradeswomen and will also be displayed, along with other selected Dropbox Derby pieces, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Mississippi Avenue Ice Cream Social

Mississippi Avenue was as sweet as it could be this past Tuesday during the 15th Annual Ice Cream Social. Over 24 Mississippi Avenue businesses participated in handing out free ice cream to celebrate our neighborhood and community. The ReBuilding Center kept it classic this year, scooping vanilla bean ice cream for those who stopped by our table under the Community Trees.

A huge thanks to the Historic Mississippi Business Association and everyone who worked hard to make this event happen. We had a blast and hope the Mississippi Avenue community did, too!

Goodbye Letter


Tom Patzkowski is the Operations Director at the ReBuilding Center. After being with the ReBuilding Center for over 19 years, his time working here will come to a close this month. The ReBuilding Center community will dearly miss Tom and his infectious laugh and we wish him the best of luck in his East Coast endeavors.


By: Tom Patzkowski

As my son and I drove a large box truck jammed full of possessions accumulated over decades in Portland across the country toward an unknown future, we noticed faces. Faces in the formations and rocks, in the trees and plants, the waters, and in the sky. Imagining the past lives of the people and animals that are recorded solidly and transitionally in the landscape, we became certain that the marks of all existences swirl in our surroundings. Throughout the local community and well beyond, the reverberations of the innovations, rediscoveries, collaborations, and spirit of the ReBuilding Center boldly exhibit, in a lasting way, that possibilities can become reality when people join together - with effort and compassion - to overcome obstacles and misperceptions.

My personal existence, the growth of my family and me, has been interwoven with the flourishing of the ReBuilding Center. In a world where disagreement is highlighted, it has been fortunate and foundational to enact change, celebrate differences, find commonalities, and build relationships at work – a rare opportunity. I have learned that there is beauty and value and challenge in all interactions and all things. There is earnestness, desire, and dedication needed to bring about a stronger and healthier society grounded in equity and respect for nature.

I think of the astronauts who come back humbled environmentalists from the vastness of space. After distantly gazing at the only observable planet which can support our lives, it is recognized that we are related to and dependent on each other for survival, our time here demands that we preserve and protect each other, and we are part of a wonderfully spinning larger organism: the earth. We are also gifted with individual talents known and to be discovered. I encourage you to engage and explore those gifts to support and serve your co-workers and all people, to take a moment to look around and notice the good you are doing, and to make your mark!

A ReBuilding Center Collaboration with Ann Hamilton: habitus

Currently, a cluster of suspended cloth flows in the wind under the riverfront pavilion at Centennial Mills. This cloth is an element of Ann Hamilton’s habitus – an art installation presented by Converge 45. While movements of the riverfront air set the curtains into motion, they can also be manipulated by rope and pulley. A model of Portland from the 1970’s accompanies the suspended curtains in the center of the installation, while the far end is bound by two long tables displaying commonplace pages, related to home and shelter. All of these habitus pieces can be reflected upon on wooden benches that line the edge of the installation.

The ReBuilding Center was commissioned by Ann Hamilton to build fourteen nine foot benches and two fifty foot display tables for habitus. The goal of this project was to not only use salvaged materials, but to also serve as a training opportunity. Under the guidance and direction of Education staffers Aaron Green and Sam Serling-Sutton, interns and volunteers applied their carpentry skills in the production of the benches and tables. Aaron recapped his experience with the habitus project:

 “Our Girls Build interns Ella, Cheyenne, and Haylee, and our Portland Youth Builders interns Noah and Jeff went the extra mile by working many long and full shifts filled with cutting, milling, assembling, sanding, and transporting. In the end, our staff couldn't have felt more proud to see our interns taking initiative and responsibility for the project, even to the point of being directed by some of them! Great work, team!”

Ann Hamilton’s habitus can be viewed and experienced Friday through Sunday, between 3 and 7PM at the Centennial Mills Pavilion (1362 NW Naito Parkway at NW 9th Avenue). The show is free and open to the public through September 16th.  All commonplace page donations support our programs at the ReBuilding Center.


Images by the ReBuilding Center

Our Third Annual Day of Service

By: Susan Hopkins

An August highlight for the Rebuilding Center is our third annual Day of Service. Volunteers get to meet other Portlanders and work on homes in our local neighborhoods, doing minor home repairs for long-time homeowners in the North and inner Northeast neighborhoods.

On Saturday, August 11, the ReBuilding Center joins with the African American Alliance for Homeownership to bring the community an annual Day of Service, offering minor repairs to eight neighborhood homeowners. These services are provided to our neighbors who are at risk of being displaced from their homes due to their need for repairs. Volunteers tackle a wide range of projects:

  • Removal and repair of rotting stairs

  • Demo and re-pouring of concrete stairs

  • Cleaning up overgrown yards

  • Installation of handrails

  • Mending fence boards

  • Sink installation

  • Door hanging

  • Painting houses



We provide pastries and coffee in the morning to get everyone started off strong, along with a lunch provided at ReBuilding Center at noon, celebrating with a happy hour with discounted drinks at a local venue at the end of this important day.

This is an excellent opportunity for volunteers with prior building experience to apply their expertise to a great cause, or for those who want to learn DIY skills. These volunteers are interested in pitching in on a Day of Service team to build a healthier and more vibrant community.

A special thank you to Columbia Bank, Wells Fargo, and StormBreaker Brewing for partnering with us on this event!

Product Preview: Paint, Wood, & New Point of Sale System!


By: Ian Hayes

Although “new” isn’t something you normally associate with the ReBuilding Center, we have some exciting new things to share with you. Starting Friday, August 3, you will be able to purchase cans of Metro paint and unused juniper lumber! Through strategic partnerships with MetroPaint and Sustainable Northwest Wood, we’re able to continue our commitment to strengthening the environment and our local communities through the use of salvaged, reclaimed, and sustainable materials.

Sustainable Northwest Wood

 Photo credit to Sustainable Northwest Wood

Photo credit to Sustainable Northwest Wood

Guided by the mission of supporting small, rural mills, Sustainable Northwest Wood offers only locally-sourced materials from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, salvage sources, and ecosystem restoration projects all across the Pacific Northwest. Their goal is to provide regionally-sourced wood as a useful byproduct of restoration projects, and many of their logs are pulled from waste streams where they would otherwise be chipped or pulped.

To start with, we’ll be offering 2”x6”x8’ #2 grade juniper, which performs well outdoors, lasts longer than any other native Pacific Northwest species, and works great as a substitute for chemically pressure-treated wood. You’ll also find juniper jacket boards in our lumber yard, which are great for creative projects. Jacket boards are the outer slices of the log that are cut off first when the log goes through a mill. They still have the bark attached, showing the original curve of the tree trunk, but the opposite side is flat. They’re usually considered waste, but we know better! Jacket boards are perfect for siding, fences, even rustic displays.



Did you know you can recycle paint at Metro Central, Metro South and other recycling centers around Portland? Don’t let your leftover paint go to the landfill or clutter up your house, recycle it!

Using recycled paint can decrease your carbon footprint, reduce the need for landfill space, conserve the amount of water needed to make new paint, and prevent pollution caused by mining the raw materials used to make paint. MetroPaint is previously unwanted latex paint that is screened for quality, and re-blended according to a strict color-matching process that ensures consistency. It’s good for indoor and outdoor use, inhibits the growth of mold and fungus, and comes with a five-year limited warranty.

The ReBuilding Center will be stocking gallon cans of six different colors: Barn Red, Winter Sky, Fawn, Desert, Alpenfrost, and the coveted Mountain Snow. You can find them right next to the cashier station on a reclaimed wood display built by Process Improvement Coordinator Chris Larsen, for $12.95 per gallon.

New Point-of-Sale System Launches


For the first time ever at the ReBuilding Center, we are going to have an itemized point-of-sale system that lets us track inventory, including our new MetroPaint offerings! This means that we can have an accurate understanding of which varieties of paint and other select products we have in stock (and how many units) as well as which colors seem to be the most popular. We may even be able to post availability on our website, so you don’t have to call or visit to find out what we have in stock! This is a new process for us, so we’ll appreciate your patience and flexibility as we learn how to make it work best for you. We are open to feedback--please let us know what you think about the new register system, and “new” products!

Field Notes from the Deconstruction Team

By: Carina Dempsey

The ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction team members have been hard at work this summer at many, many deconstruction sites! We wanted to give our readers an idea of what deconstruction looks like firsthand. All of the sites photographed below are located within a half-mile of RBC, in the Northwest and Northeast Portland neighborhoods. Enjoy! 

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