Volunteer Highlight: Marci

By: Aaron Green

Volunteers at the Rebuilding Center are the life-blood of the organization. I heard a staff member say that once during a tour. It’s a big thing to say, too. Could it really be true? When I stop to consider the 15,000+ hours our 2,250 volunteers contributed to our organization in 2018 alone, from wrangling and sorting in hardware and lighting, to lifting and moving heavy items in the lumber yard, data entry and receipt organization in the admin office, to material preparation and tool maintenance in the education shop, I find myself having to conclude that in some ways, yes, I think we really do run on the generosity of our volunteer help! Our volunteers, whether they’re aware of it or not, provide a special service that really does bolster the greater life of our operation.


Now, I may be biased (as one who spends half their time in the Education Shop!), but Marci Edwards, a regular (weekly) volunteer in the shop, and occasional teaching assistant on the weekends, has been one of the most helpful volunteers we’ve had in the two-and-a-half years that our department has been around. From the beginning, Marci made it clear that she was looking grow as a woodworker, and that otherwise she was happy to help however. Marci was a quick study. Before long she was safely and expertly ripping plywood on the saws, maintenancing our planers, and putting together brand new table saws! On top of that, she was always one of the first people to welcome new volunteers into our space and show them the ropes.

We’re going to miss Marci’s calm, caring demeanor and carpentry expertise in our shop. We wish her well in this next chapter and hope to see her again later in the year! She was kind enough to sit down with me for a brief interview about her time with us. Please enjoy!


Q: Marci, how long have you been volunteering with us at the Rebuilding Center?

A: I think it was November 2018 when I started volunteering, but I actually got started here as a student.

Q: Oh really? What the first class you took with us?

A: I took the Hopping Toys class back in September, but then when I found out about some of your more carpentry-heavy classes, I got myself signed up for those. I took the Rough-to-Finished Lumber class, and then the Tablesaw Bootcamp class after that. I knew I really needed to learn the tools from those classes.

Q: So before volunteering with us, what were one or two things you were hoping to gain from your experience at RBC?

A: Safety training and comfortability with using large tools, like the table saw! Then I wanted to learn how to take a deeper dive in rabbets and dados and basic joinery techniques. Which then led me to routers! I feel comfortable and confident enough (since I took routers class as well!).

Q: While here, what has been a unique tool or technique that you’ve learned to work with that you didn’t expect to?

A: Using the circle jig on the bandsaw (for a plant stand), and being able to see a cross-cut sled work [on the table saw]. Also, getting to receive positive feedback from some female students about how I was a resource to them was really fun. It was pleasantly surprising.

Q: What’s been your favorite part about your time here?

A: Getting to build the porch step for a tiny home for the Kenton Women’s Village with another volunteer; getting to see it start from beginning to end, making mistakes and getting to learn from them. That was very rewarding.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about RBC as a whole?

A: It has an amazing staff that is caring, competent, helpful, people-oriented. The staff here in the shop are wonderful as well!

Q: Are you sad to be leaving us for a little while?

A: I am. I've really enjoyed my time in the shop. It's a nice place to go and use the other side of my brain. It's a special treat to get to come in and get to work with wood.

Fun in the Sun: Summer Event Preview

Mark your calendars - summer is just around the corner and there are many community events to look forward to attending along with the ReBuilding Center! Here’s a preview:


Good in the Hood Parade
Saturday, June 22nd
11:00AM - 1:00PM

The Good in the Hood Music & Food Festival is the largest multi-cultural festival in the region! Join us for the community parade that travels through Northeast Portland and ends at Lillis-Albina Park. Year after year, this is a can’t-miss event!


Mississippi Street Fair
Saturday, July 13th
10:00AM - 9:00PM

The Mississippi Street Fair is a community event focused on local products, artists, crafts, and foods. It is a celebration of the neighborhood and businesses surrounding Mississippi Avenue. Make sure to come take a stroll down the street and stop by our Warehouse to say hi!


Fourth Annual Day of Service
Saturday, August 24th

For the fourth year in a row, we will be joining the African American Alliance for Homeownership to offer minor repairs to homeowners in our neighborhood. These services are provided to neighbors who are at risk of being displaced from their homes due to their need for repairs. Stay tuned for more information on how to get involved!

Spring into Creative Reuse

The sun is out and the weather is perfect for springtime projects!

Every week we re-post a creative reuse project on our Instagram to spread reuse inspiration. From benches to planter boxes, we love seeing every project completed with materials that once found their way through the ReBuilding Center. Check out this compilation of projects recently shared with us - maybe they’ll even find their way to your project list!

Have you completed any projects using ReBuilding Center materials?
Send some photos our way to

Today's Finds: May 2019

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 May 2nd 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 info@rebuildingcenter.org.

Six Sides to Every Story

“Building community through reuse” is a phrase that is used often at the ReBuilding Center. At any time, it has a variety of different meanings, from expanding our class offerings to donating materials to other local nonprofits. Most recently, “building community through reuse” meant hosting six groups to build a bench for the Boise Eliot Native Grove that represents the engagement of women in trades, the LGBTQ community, underserved youth, the houseless, and in-recovery community.

Q Center Community Members Building

Q Center Community Members Building

Over the past few months, community members of Self Enhancement, Inc., Q Center, 4th Dimension, Portland Youth Builders, Hazelnut Grove Houseless Village, and Oregon Tradeswomen spent time learning and building in the ReBuilding Center shop. Lead Instructor, Sam Serling-Sutton, designed the frame of a hexagonal bench and facilitated the groups over multiple sessions in the shop. Like many of our Education Program students, this experience allowed for those who have not spent much time in a wood shop to learn in an inclusive and fun environment.

Each of the six groups was taught how to use a variety of carpentry tools in order to build out the hexagonal frame and finish each bench section to represent their communities. The groups gleaned reclaimed materials from our Store to complete each unique side of the bench—from knobs to cabinet doors to desktops. The bench exudes creativity and is an inspiring example of the collective power of people and existing resources to build community through reuse.

Unpresidented Brass Band Playing at the Earth Day Work Party

Unpresidented Brass Band Playing at the Earth Day Work Party

In collaboration with the Boise Eliot Native Grove, the bench was installed around an oak sapling during an Earth Day celebration and work party on Saturday, April 20. Located near the corner of North Ivy Street and North Gantenbein Avenue, the Boise Eliot Native Grove is an ever-transforming slice of nature in the middle of our city. Make sure to visit the Grove and enjoy the bench for yourself!

From the first build days to installation, we enjoyed every step of the way. A huge thank you to all six community groups and to Boise Eliot Native Grove for making this community-building project a reality!

CB V 2C_Blk_PMS 2935_WOTAG-600x322.jpg

This project was sponsored by Columbia Bank.

Today's Finds: April 2019

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 April 10th finds, here.

  • View the April 18th finds, here.

  • View the April 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 info@rebuildingcenter.org.

A Part of the Family

Volunteers are essential to the ReBuilding Center’s operation and mission. Just last year, we had over 2,250 people donate their time with us at least one time! We strive to treat every volunteer as part of the family, no matter how many hours are spent with us.

TJ and Ella Rose at the ReBuilding Center’s 2018 Day of Service

TJ and Ella Rose at the ReBuilding Center’s 2018 Day of Service

Like many ReBuilding Center volunteers, TJ was first a regular customer at the ReBuilding Center Store. After building a rapport with the staff, he started helping out where needed in 2012 and has been around ever since. For TJ, the ReBuilding Center feels like a home away from home and for the ReBuilding Center staff, TJ feels like a part of the family.

TJ recently discussed with us his love for learning new skills and the ability to do that at the ReBuilding Center. “If I consider myself skillful in (or knowledgeable about) anything, it's because I was able to glean the knowledge or expertise from a volunteer or staff member I happen to be working with on a project. I have picked up real in-depth knowledge from staff members on everything from wood staining/finishing, framing houses, moving large equipment and machinery, to time management strategies, as well as conflict resolution skills.”

Retractable Ladder Project

Retractable Ladder Project

Our staff feels the same way. TJ has been an incredible resource for process improvements and a pillar of knowledge in many arenas, such as metalwork. “What a gem. Where to start?” mentioned Aaron Green, Education Program Coordinator, about his experience working with TJ. “Most recently, the retractable ladder broke that we use daily to go between the Education Shop and the alley. Within a week, TJ re-welded the leg, making it far stronger, and added rubber “feet” to brace the impact of the ladder against the wall. It is way safer to use now than it ever has been in the past.”

There are countless more projects that TJ has helped with at the ReBuilding Center - from constructing beautiful kiosks to participating in our annual Day of Service. At the end of the day, the we are honored to be able to work among such wonderful members of our community.


If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering at the ReBuilding Center, go here.

P.S. Check out this Volunteer Spotlight video from 2016!

Reclaiming Materials, Reclaiming Dignity

How can some old salvaged lumber and a little friendly competition help address the houseless crisis? The Reclaimed Pod (“RePod”) entry in the Kenton Women’s Village Pod Build Challenge is an example of just that.

The Pod Build Challenge involves 20 groups representing the construction and deconstruction community. These “competitors” are making a direct and immediate impact on Portland’s housing crisis by donating time and materials to build a sleeping pod for the newly relocated Kenton Women’s Village. (A pod is a tiny home that includes enough space for one individual to sleep and store personal belongings, power and radiant heat, and a locking door.)

The Kenton Women’s Village (KWV) is a community of female-identifying residents who are living temporarily in sleeping pods, with access to a fully operational kitchen and shower facilities. It is a collaborative project that addresses houselessness at a small, but replicable and impactful scale. Through Catholic Charities, the women at KWV receive access to comprehensive services. Since opening in 2017, 20 women that have stayed in the village have moved into permanent housing.

Our challenge entry, the “RePod,” is unique in that it represents the local reuse community. In partnership with Metro and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the RePod is built with salvaged materials from the ReBuilding Center and interior reclaimed, hand-made furnishings from Crackedpots. The majority of the reclaimed lumber was salvaged from deconstructed homes in Portland, and will continue to live a meaningful life instead of ending up in the landfill. Salvage Works, Reclaim NW, Parr Lumber, and MetroPaint helped round out the required materials. Christopher Barth donated his electrician skills, and R&H Construction provided a build space and pod transportation.

The Pop Out design used for the RePod. This pod was designed by students at Portland State University’s School of Architecture and Center for Public Interest Design.


Said Shawn Wood, dedicated RePod project manager and BPS Construction Waste Specialist, “I thank everyone for their collective efforts. This project was more challenging than any of us expected when we signed up, and the team really pushed to create an amazing pod that we hope will feel like home for the future resident and will showcase what can be done with salvaged material. It’s looking pretty sweet!”

Kelly Stevens of the ReBuilding Center added, “It’s been inspiring to see Portland BPS, Metro, and two reuse nonprofits come together for this labor of love—from ReBuilding Center volunteers and staff drivers, deconstructionists, and class instructors, to the project leads themselves and their family members who helped. We all want to make sure that people and materials—specifically those usually perceived as liabilities and cast off by society—are instead seen as vital community assets. We hope that goal shines through the RePod.”

See the photos highlighting the RePod build, from material drop-off to build-out. The final touches will be completed soon, but the RePod team isn’t revealing them yet! To see the final pods from all the teams in the Challenge, join the unveiling celebration on Friday, April 5, from 1:00PM to 2:00PM. There will be speakers and award announcements at Kenton Women’s Village, 2420 North Columbia Boulevard.

Update: We have marked the completion of the Kenton Women's Village PodBuild Challenge! Alongside the Bureau of Planning and SustainabilityCracked Pots, and Metro, we built the pod with over 90% reclaimed materials and to top it off, our "RePod" received an award for best reuse of innovative material! We are honored to have been involved in this project that supports important community work. A huge thank you to everyone who had a hand in the PodBuild Challenge.

Today's Finds: March 2019

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 March 14th finds, here.

  • View the March 21st finds, here.

  • View the March 28th 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 info@rebuildingcenter.org.

The Art of Reclaimed Materials


My parents had an antique store up the street on Killingsworth and Michigan for over twenty years. When I came back to Portland in 2000, after living in Chicago for a while, I worked at their store helping fix furniture. I was at the ReBuilding Center all the time for materials, you know, getting in the way and bothering everyone. After the antique store closed in 2007, I started looking for work. I had gotten to know many people at the ReBuilding Center—Tom, Shane, Ella Rose, Angel. They were looking for another Salvage Specialist and encouraged me to apply. Eventually I did. There was an interview, and I started working just a few days later.

I knew how the ReBuilding Center worked. I had the knowledge and carpentry skills. I fit the bill. For many years, I worked as a Salvage Specialist. I always enjoyed being out front the most. Working with the public has always been enjoyable to me. We didn’t have much of a volunteer department back then, but we started to work with groups to de-nail in the empty lot over behind Grand Central. I was asked to assist at the site, and eventually the job stuck. Our temp sites moved all over, but I stayed the Volunteer Site Supervisor for four or five years. When I wasn’t busy working with volunteer groups, I would work in the store. It took a while, but eventually I found a good balance between the two.

Bookends built by Pete

Bookends built by Pete

I was kind of already doing process improvements at that time, but it was never structured until recently. By thinking things out more, it enables us to make everyone’s experience better. Being involved with all the different projects over time has been really enjoyable. I don’t want the easy way out—I like details. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but if you put some time and creativity into a project, people will appreciate it. Any of the materials we get can fit what you are doing. It’s all about how you put it to use. There’s an art aspect to it, and I truly enjoy that. For someone like me, working at the ReBuilding Center is just perfect. The work we do gives me a sense of accomplishment when I get home.

Being a native Portlander, I’ve seen the city transform. It isn’t just me being old and stubborn—things have really changed. There are the Mississippi Avenue issues, the increased cost of living, and all that. There’s a limit to growth, but I’m not sure what that looks like for us. I think if we stick to it, we can stay where we are. Where else is there to go? My advice to the ReBuilding Center is to take everything with a grain of salt—things aren’t personal. So many different people come in and out and they’re all different. There will always be challenges, but I try to take things day by day and not to carry any bad along with me. This can be hard to maintain, but in order to keep doing what we do, we have to work on being a continued example of how to be respectful and community centered.

When thinking of the future of the ReBuilding Center, I am really excited about our education efforts. There are always people that come here who work on homes or flip houses, but it is also about involving those that aren’t already plugged in to that type of work. It is part of our job in the store to not only point to where the materials are, but also to have conversations about the materials and projects—to teach and advise when we can. That is why I am so excited about the Education Program. There are so many opportunities available. I realize it takes time for things to grow, but the education team has done a great job so far.

People can limit themselves in what they see, but our efforts can help people see a piece of wood, or whatever it is, differently. My goal is to make our community excited about reclaimed materials in a way that haven’t been before. We may stress about this and that, but our mission is continuing—we are doing what we are here to do.


Spring Repair Cafe

Save the date - we’re hosting Repair PDX for a spring Repair Cafe!

When: Wednesday, April 24th 6-8PM

Where: ReBuilding Center Education Shop

3625 N. Mississippi Avenue (enter through the red door in the red brick building, north of the store)

Each Repair Cafe is unique, based on the venue and the volunteers. At this Repair Cafe, volunteers will be fixing small appliances, mending garments, and repairing bikes. Additionally, there will be tool and knife sharpening. Please plan to limit what you sharpen to two items. Please fill out this form to let us know what you are bringing.

Want to learn more about what to expect at a Repair Cafe? Click here!

ReUse Spotlight: Piedmont Station Food Carts

An Phan, Manager of the Piedmont Station Food Carts, is a regular at the ReBuilding Center. He has a passion for DIY projects that sparked from doing building maintenance for years. Some of his most recent projects can be found at Piedmont Station Food Carts at 625 NE Killingsworth.

We saw reclaimed materials in every direction while An showed us around and expressed his love for each of the pieces. To An, a piece of rotted wood adds an element of texture and color that deserves to be showcased, not thrown away. Each project has its own story, whether it is an old bowling lane turned into a table or a pieces of rough-sawn fir cut into a bookshelf.

Check out some of An’s thoughtful projects below and get inspired to start your own creative reuse projects!

Welcoming Jackie Kirouac-Fram as New Executive Director

After a four-month search, led by a team of ReBuilding Center staff and board members, we are excited to announce Jaclyn Kirouac-Fram as our new Executive Director. Jackie follows the ReBuilding Center’s Acting Executive Director, Kelly Stevens, who will remain on staff, and Interim Executive Director, Alison Dennis, who left the organization in November to pursue a new challenge as Executive Director of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, Oregon.
2018 was a year of leadership transition for the ReBuilding Center, but we built on our strengths and continued to work on objectives set during strategic planning. The ReBuilding Center anticipates that Jackie will leverage these strengths to help our organization continue to make a material difference in the Portland community and beyond.
"We were very intentional in looking for candidates who had a history of collaborative leadership and whose values around sustainability and equity aligned with ours,” said Vio Rubiani, the ReBuilding Center Board Chair. “From the get-go, and throughout the process, Jackie's experience, empathy, and commitment to our mission and vision really shone through. We are very lucky to have her and are looking forward to working with her for many years to come."

Jackie is joining us following her role as Vice President at FOCUS St. Louis. FOCUS is a nonprofit whose mission is to educate future civic leaders through six civic leadership programs. Jackie brings her collaborative work style and experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, leading and developing relationships with diverse teams, building programs and partnerships, and turning strategic plans into action—not to mention a deep passion for strengthening communities! This unique blend of experience will help us continue our evolution/growth and increase our impact for the people, communities, and environment we serve.


From Jackie: "I'm excited to start working with the fantastic team at RBC to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of our community and amplify our voice as leaders in sustainability and community well-being. We are going to do great things together!"
Jackie will start her role of Executive Director in early March, getting to know Portland, the ReBuilding Center, our key partners, and you! Come on by and introduce yourself and help us give her a warm welcome.

Looking Back: 2018 Year in Review

ReBuilders accomplished so much in 2018! Below, you can see a snapshot of some of these accomplishments. From deconstructing over 30,000 square feet to teaching over 180 classes to selling materials to 54,000 members of the community, the ReBuilding Center is proud to be a part of the Portland reuse community. Thank you for your ongoing support, for being a part of the ReBuilding Center community, and for making a material difference! 

Today's Finds: February 2019

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 February 7th finds, here.

  • View the February 21st finds, here.

  • View the February 28th 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 info@rebuildingcenter.org.

From Student to Successful DIY-er

Joanna and her friend, Piper, recently took our DIY Plumbing Repairs + Replacements class, and within a few weeks of the class, her toilet broke! Fortunately enough, they were able to practice their newly learned skills.

Joanna recapped their experience repairing the toilet to us. As with many repairs, there are always some hurdles. The first hurdle they faced was mismatched rough-ins. The new toilet had a 12-inch rough-in, but because the repair was happening in an older home, the outlet was a little bit further away from the wall with a 14-inch rough-in.

Side note: the toilet rough-in is the distance from the wall behind the toilet to the center of the toilet’s outlet pipe.

The second hurdle was removing a metal support rod that went from the very old toilet into the floor. They had to remove the rod and then saw off some of the remnants because the new toilet would not fit over it. Joanna concluded, “All in all it was a very empowering experience and we remembered all the good tips we learned in class.”

Check out the process photos below. Thanks for sharing your story, Joanne!

Accomplishments like these are just what we hope for at the ReBuilding Center! We love hearing students’ stories and encourage you to share them with us anytime at info@rebuildingcenter.org.

Our DIY Plumbing Repairs + Replacements class is offered at least once a month (both regular and Women’s Only). Students learn how to not only do what Joanne and Piper did, but to also repair leaky faucets, running toilets, cracked fixtures, dripping drains, etc. Additionally, the Portland Water Bureau generously provides water-saving kids for each student! Check out our education page to learn more.

"That's Pretty Rad" - a Farewell Letter

April Robbins was one of the first ReBuilding Center Education instructors. After being with the ReBuilding Center since 2016, her time teaching here came to a close this month. The ReBuilding Center community will miss April and we wish her the best of luck in her building endeavors!

By: April Robbins


“What in the world...” and “that’s pretty rad,” are the simultaneous thoughts I had while walking into the spectacle that is the Administrative Offices of the ReBuilding Center.  The doors on the ceiling, the hodgepodge of windows and siding making up the cubicles; I wondered about the workings of such a creative space with its animated and consistently helpful staff.  I was working at Oregon Tradeswomen (OTI) at the time and living in the Boise neighborhood as one of the reluctantly endured transplants from California, blissfully unaware of vitamin D deficiencies and things like ‘freezing fog’. 

Setting up opportunities for the pre-apprenticeship students at the ReBuilding Center was a seamless task with the help of Dave, the Volunteer Coordinator at the time.  We worked together a few times, and about a month after I parted ways with OTI in May of 2016, I got in touch with Dave again and signed up to help the Portland Public Schools make 3 stringed instruments in the shop!  Things snowballed from there and I’ve been honored to be an instructor for the ReBuilding Center through this past December.

The ReBuilding Center and Education team are not just a ‘can do’ group but a ‘must do’.  There is an understanding that Portland needs and cherishes its makers, its most unorthodox businesses, and the gritty people who are motivated not by comfort and ease, but by passion and confidence - the very values the Education department fuels in its students.  Portland stands out among the places I’ve lived as a determined and unwavering progressive city with a strong core and welcoming spirit; and my experience at the ReBuilding Center supports that experience. 

Thank you all very much for your assistance, gentle hellos, lighthearted humor, and all around support.  I will certainly miss being on staff.  For the time being, I will be working for a builder, Neil Kelly.  I will undoubtedly be rolling up the alleyway with donations and perusing the aisle for finds. Thanks for making my time here exceptional.

Driving Tips: Avoid + Handle Hydroplaning

By: The Driving Team (& TireBuyer.com)

At a recent Driving team meeting, during a safety check-in, a driver shared that he experienced a scary hydroplane situation in his car. In classic driving-team form, this turned into a robust conversation about the do’s and dont’s of driving to prevent hydroplaning and support a safe outcome if it happens to you:

Image via tirebuyer.com

Image via tirebuyer.com

What is hydroplaning? Hydroplaning happens when a sheet of water wedges itself between the road and your tire, preventing the tire’s tread from properly gripping the road, which can lead to a loss of control, steering, and braking. While road conditions and tire health both increase the risk of hydroplaning, the main perpetrators are speed and water depth. Crash Forensics says that you’re at risk when moving above speeds above 45 MPH and when water depth on the road is at least 1/10th of an inch.

Unfortunately, we can’t stop our cars and break out the rulers, so the safe bet would be to treat all wet roads as potential hydroplaning hazard zones. And while it is possible to identify the factors above, the truth is that hydroplaning often strikes unexpectedly, creating a scary and hectic few moments for everyone involved—especially those who are unprepared or unaware of the indicating factors. Taking a few precautionary steps can help you avoid hydroplaning and handle it in an emergency.

Tips to Avoid Hydroplaning

  • Don’t use cruise control in the rain to stay more in tune with the conditions at hand.

  • Make sure your tires have adequate tread and are properly inflated; rotate tires and replace as needed. 

  • Avoid standing water and puddles.

  • Drive at a safe speed. The faster you drive, the harder it is for your tires to push water away.

  • Pay attention to the cars in front of you. The car in front of you can help you understand the condition of the road. If you see excessive amounts of water coming from their tires, they may be driving in a lane that’s holding excessive water. In this case, you may want to slow down or make a lane change. Always maintain a safe, proper distance.

  • Try to drive in tracks created by the vehicle(s) ahead of you.

If You End up Hydroplaning
Sometimes, even when you do take every possible precaution, you can still end up hydroplaning. If your vehicle does start to hydroplane, follow these steps:

  • Don’t panic or overreact—stay calm.

  • Don’t slam on the brakes.

  • Ease your foot off the accelerator and apply brakes gently if necessary to avoid further loss of control. In the case your vehicle does not have anti-lock brakes (check your manual), try to avoid braking altogether. If you must brake, “pump” the brake pedal gently.

  • Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and keep yourself pointed forward, or in the direction of the road, and be prepared to compensate when the tires regain control.

  • Be careful not to over-steer, as your momentum can throw you off course or into a spin.

  • Whether you have front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, you always want to maintain the course of the road. This may take a few turns of the steering wheel in either direction.

  • Take a deep breath and calm your nerves.

“Safety is all about information; most safety issues are a result of not knowing. Inform yourself as much as needed for any task you take on. This alone will reduce your safety hazards. Combine this with a cautionary mindset, and you can take on any task with a good outcome. - Josh, ReBuilding Center General Manager


By: Alex Rhodes (ReBuilding Center Salvage Specialist)

“Green”—a word I have been grappling with and redefining for years, it seems. Most commonly thought of as a color…the color of so many beautiful plants and landscapes, but especially known in our society as the color of money. What I’ve found is that “green” is a catch-all buzzword for the movement for changing consciousness towards the environment, particularly where it relates to the economy. It is purposefully vague and has caught on in many types of industries such as small businesses, construction, technology, education, energy, and even agriculture. If you’re a company or nonprofit in one of these industries, there are a variety of incentives to market yourself as “Green.”

But what does it mean for a job to be Green? Well, let’s take for example our organization, the ReBuilding Center. We are striving to give our staff living wages, strong benefits, and a socially progressive culture in our workplace. We are strongly tied to the construction industry while being leaders in environmentally conscious practices with our deconstructions services as well as our store, both which promote the idea of Reuse. In other words, we bring social, economic, and environmental justice into our way of operating. All of this makes us the textbook example of an organization that is Green. 

The Green Workforce Collaborative (GWC) seeks to guide the most historically marginalized young adults in Black and Native communities of the Portland area into stable, decent-paying jobs. Currently, these good jobs are overwhelmingly Green jobs. As you may be aware, Black and Native people have been oppressed for way too long and we need to reverse the trend. There are traumas, lack of a positive network, and scarcity of intergenerational wealth that disproportionately follows all of us whether we like it or not.

How the GWC plans to do this is by raising environmental awareness, a skill many employers say potential employees lack. During a five-week long program that utilizes the nationally-accredited Roots of Success Curriculum (piloted in 2018), the “Green Workforce Academy” provides a down-to-earth understanding of the environmental issues that affect us all.  To bring the subject closer to home, we spend half of the program going out and meeting with potential employers to engage in hands-on events. The job doesn’t end there.  We serve as mentors as graduates transition into their new careers and provide them with references and guidance.  


As a young adult from a diverse, low-income background who has taken the unbeaten path of studying the issues around the environment, working at a Green job such as with the ReBuilding Center, I have never been so certain of the direction I’m headed. Understanding the bigger picture of how the environment affects us has played a central role in changing my life. I can already see it starting to change my peers participating in the Green Workforce Academy program. Participating in this project has been deeply fulfilling, and I foresee the Green Workforce Collaborative having the potential to be a model in job creation moving forward as the Green wave rolling over our country brings about an economy that reflects the realities of our environment.

"Over a Decade" of Relationship Building and Waste Stream Diversion

By: Leif Amundson (ReBuilding Center Assistant Store Manager)

I can’t say how long I’ve worked here—that is like telling people how old I am. Let’s say I’ve worked here for “over a decade...”

I saw a Craigslist ad for a driver at the ReBuilding Center. It stood out because I had a friend that had been talking this place up, so I applied and was hired. This place was nuts back then—everything was thrown together. It was very much a grassroots nonprofit, but there was still a lot going on.

Being on the driving team was super-fast paced—we were a scrappy group of drivers working hard to get as much material in as possible each day. I really enjoyed being on the road, doing my best to salvage everything we could, while also educating the public. There is a lot of relationship building involved in our jobs. It is really important to educate on reuse and how we do things at the ReBuilding Center. The whole process is very dynamic. We have to understand what people want to donate, but also what people want to buy to reuse. I am constantly working on understanding this dynamic. There can be a lot of managing expectations, but we are able to get so much more after working on building relationships with the public.

It is also really rewarding to salvage lumber with our DeConstruction team. We are able to not only save forests, but also give people the option to be as green as possible. If we weren’t here, so many more lumber products would be in the landfill. I really enjoy being a part of the collaboration that it takes to bring in all of these materials.

I’ve worked in many positions since I was hired as a Driver “over a decade” ago—Driving Department Assistant Manager, Driving Department Manager, Driver (again), Assistant Manager, and now Assistant Co-Manager in the store. The coolest thing about our store is the affordability. Earlier today, a customer was here on a budget. He bought a perfect-condition light fixture and a sink for only $38. He would have paid three times that for something new from another store. I love that we provide affordability to the public. It’s fun to have nice and vintage items, but at the core of it, we have affordable items. We’re keeping materials out of the waste stream and helping people save money.  

In regard to the health of the store, I do worry about the changing face of Portland and people’s willingness to use marginal building materials for remodels and for the real estate market. I don’t want to focus only on money, but the wealthier Portland gets, the harder it will be for us to survive. For example, we used to have a lot of customers who were property owners. Many of these customers have turned their properties into much higher-end places, so we aren’t seeing them shopping here as much. This is why it’s important for us to continue to reach out to Portland communities who could benefit from what we provide. Our customer base may always be changing, but I think there will always be a need for what we do. It gives me hope that we are a valued Portland institution, and I think our culture of waste stream diversion is really important.

Our awesome and dynamic staff also gives me hope. My coworkers are like family. I have known so many of them for such a long time. Even the new staff - it’s nice because most people stay around for a while. We all know each other really well. I love the independence we are able to have in our work. I like where we are with the co-leadership model and the intention to be transparent through the entire organization. We just need to keep on keeping on with the things we are good at. We should continue to refine what we do, educate the public, and make sure we have a strong presence in the community. If we do this, we’ll remain a valued place for salvaged materials and waste stream diversion.

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