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.


Save the Date for a Bench Unveiling and a Repair Cafe!


Boise-Eliot Community Bench Unveiling

In collaboration with the Boise-Eliot Native Grove, we are designing and installing a six-sided bench around an oak sapling at the Native Grove. Each section of the bench is built by a different part of our Northeast Portland community. The bench will be unveiled during an Earth Day Clean-Up and Celebration on Saturday, April 20th, at 10AM at the Boise-Eliot Native Grove.


Spring Repair Cafe

We are hosting Repair PDX on Wednesday, April 24th from 6-9PM for a Spring Repair Cafe! Each Repair Cafe is unique, based on the venue and the volunteers. Stay tuned for further details, but plan on bringing broken items and any replacement parts, clean clothing to be mended, and a patient and DIY attitude!

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

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

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 (&

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

Image via

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.

Community Opportunities

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

Upcoming Repair Fairs

Reuse your old things by getting them repaired by volunteers! There will be people that can help with small appliances, electronic toys, clothing, and jewelry!

Repair Fair @ PlanetCon - Quatama Elementry (Hillsboro) | January 12th

Repair Fair @ Lake Oswego United Methodist Church | January 12th

Repair Fair @ Cedar Mill Library | February 2nd

NECN Community Grants

Northeast Coalition of Neighbhorhoods and the office of Civic and Community Life partner to provide grants to neighborhood and community organizations working to make NE Portland a stronger, more inclusive community. The deadline to apply is January 15th. Learn more, here.

Portland YouthBuilders

Portland YouthBuilders provides job training in construction or technology and assistance in finishing high school for those ages 17-24. Learn more about PYB and their Construction Bridge Program, here.

GLEAN Art Program

GLEAN is a five-month long program that invites artists to push the boundaries of material exploration. GLEAN is sponsored by Recology, Metro, and crackedpots. The deadline to apply is January 31st - learn more, here.

Youth Environmental Job Fair

Organized by the Youth Mentoring Collaborative, the Youth Environmental Fair will have hundreds of jobs for ages 14-25. Prep your resumes and learn more, here!

DeConstruction Highlight: Living Cully

A couple years ago, the Sugar Shack strip club closed, and the property at the corner of Northeast Cully Boulevard and North Killingsworth Street went up for sale. It was purchased by a group of community organizations who did not have a plan, but knew they wanted to transform the crime-ridden property into a space to cultivate community. Over time, the site was named Living Cully Plaza, and a plan was created through a collaboration spearheaded by Hacienda Community Development Corp. to build affordable apartments. During the time of planning, the property was immediately transformed into a community space used to organize the Cully community.

Living Cully.jpg

The ReBuilding Center is one of many organizations who are involved in the Living Cully Plaza project. Our DeConstruction team was on site for a lumber skim, and the reclaimed lumber was brought to our store. Additional deconstruction took place by other organizations, with many materials going back into the Cully community for reuse.  

In early December, members of the Cully neighborhood and the Living Cully Community gathered to celebrate the Sugar Shack demolition. Many stories were told about the community’s ability to rally together and create change in the neighborhood. This project has been many years in the making, with an incredible amount of people and organizations dedicated to make a positive difference with the property.

To follow along with Living Cully progress, check out the Living Cully website.

The Impact of a Door

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. One of these organizations, Community of Hope, located in North Portland, serves homeless, single-parent families. They provide shelter, classes, mentoring, and community life for 4-6 months while families heal from past trauma, build skills, and find stable jobs and homes. We recently caught up with Linda Jo, Community of Hope’s Program Director, to find out how a small donation has made a material difference at Community of Hope.

Community of Hope used wood facing and hinges we donated to help repair and stabilize bedroom doors. These small materials make a huge difference at their facility. Many of the families they serve come from living in an unconventional space, so having private space with a locking door is very significant. It helps to provide the families a sense of safety and gives them a secure space in which to leave their belongings.

Linda Jo explained Community of Hope’s awareness of the impact they have on the environment:

We want to make as small a carbon footprint as we can, and we want to get the materials we use as inexpensively as possible. Reusing materials is both cost effective and keeps things out of our landfill. We feel good to be part of the community who makes our world a better place in terms of environment as well as the people who live in it.

Check out these photos provided by Community of Hope. They have repaired the wood facing and hinges; paint is the next step. A huge thanks to Linda Jo and Community of Hope for sharing their story!

Today's Finds: January 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 January 3rd finds, here.

  • View the January 17th finds, here.

  • View the January 24th finds, here.

  • View the January 31st 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

Today's Finds: December 2018

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 December 13th finds, here.

  • View the December 20th 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

Bay Area Salvage

 By: Chris Larsen (ReBuilding Center Process Improvement Coordinator) 

During the recent Thanksgiving break I had the opportunity to tour some of the Bay Area’s largest salvaged and reused building materials stores.  The reuse store landscape in the Bay Area is an eclectic mix of for profit and nonprofit organizations of a wide range of scales and with varied specialties. All the organizations I visited are united through the sale of used building materials and all have operated for over twenty years.  Here is a small snapshot of the Bay Area’s salvage landscape, which serves as information and inspiration for the ReBuilding Center’s operations in Portland:

This and That Building Materials

  • For Profit

  • Founded: 1997

  • San Pablo

Mission: “We are committed to preserving reusable building materials and offering them to our customers at a fraction of retail prices. Reduce Reuse and Recycle”

This and That Building Materials is an unpretentious, no frills, salvaged goods retailer. The organization has a huge stock of almost every building material imaginable. The stock is generally relatively common goods, with occasional high-end and antique materials. The organization is unique in having a dedicated employee and the accompanying machinery to produce new custom door jambs for used and new doors. Although for profit, the store had a decided community feeling with folks chatting and catching up while others were shopping around for the next deal.

This and That.png

Urban Ore

  • For Profit 

  • Founded: 1980

  • Berkeley 

Mission- “To end the age of waste”       

If you're not for Zero Waste, how much waste are you for?”

Urban Ore is a Berkeley institution. The organization is beloved by Bay Area residence and is one of the largest salvage organizations I visited. Urban Ore runs a diverse business, selling reused building materials as well as antiques, home goods ranging from clothing to kitchenware, and arts and media ranging from books to creative reuse arts materials. The organization has a dedicated receiving department for sorting items before they reach the public, a metals recycling facility as well as a partnership with the local transfer station to allow gleaning of materials prior to disposal.

Urban Ore.png

Ohmega Salvage

  • For Profit

  • Founded: 1974

  • Berkeley

Mission- “Ohmega Salvage builds community through commerce by being a model of reuse, recycling and social exchange. We preserve old-quality items and resources for our customers.”

Ohmega Salvage is another such Berkeley Institution, perhaps even more so being founded in 1974. The organization appears in such famous counter cultural books as Lloyd Kahn’s alternative architectural work “Shelter”. Today the organization primarily deals in genuine antique and vintage architectural salvage, ranging from mantles and stained glass windows to door hardware and clawfoot tubs. They also do extensive rewiring of quality light fixtures.


Building Resources

  • Non-profit

  • Founded: 1994

  • San Francisco

Mission- “Building Resources is a not for profit organization dedicated to providing our community with low cost high quality materials, in a friendly, clean and organized setting.”

Building Resources is San Francisco’s only non-profit salvage store, and may be the singular affordable option for salvage in the City. Building Resources runs a small yard of diverse building salvage as well as an alternative glass recycling program making tumbled art glass, as well as housing an art gallery. In San Francisco’s increasingly dense, high-priced and fast-paced market, Building Resources stands as a beacon of equality, affordability, environmentalism, and creativity within the city.

Building Resources.png

The ReUse People

  • Non-profit

  • Founded: 1993

  • Oakland

Mission- “The ReUse People reduces the solid waste stream and changes the way the built environment is renewed by salvaging building materials and distributing them for reuse”

The ReUse people is a national organization doing deconstruction and sales of used building materials. It is also the cliffhanger in my visit to the Bay Area, as I did not manage through a combination of traffic and altered holiday hours to get into the store! So more to look forward to seeing soon.

The Reuse People.png

Recycling Kindness

ella rose too.jpg

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.

Andrey Interviewing Ella Rose

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.

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.

Today's Finds: November 2018

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.

  • View the November 21st Finds here.

  • View the November 29th 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

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