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 blacklifeERG@gmail.com.

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!

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


Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church

The Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church in NE 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

Justin and Kelly Lazenby co-founded their own theater company thirteen years ago, and they put on four to five shows every year 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.” Justin said. “We’ve done this by reusing everything we can possibly reuse.” They’ve had to make mad-scientist dungeons, Victorian sitting rooms, farm house kitchens, and once an entire set made of giant 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 setting of the show.”

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! 

Our Latest Community Partners: New Seasons Market & Give!Guide

 Photo credit to New Seasons Market

Photo credit to New Seasons Market

By: Carina Dempsey

At the ReBuilding Center, community is at the heart of our mission. We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected as a Bag-it-Forward Program partner at both the Grant Park and Raleigh Hills New Seasons Markets! This means that when you shop at these New Seasons locations and use a reusable bag, you are able to donate your 5-cent bag credit to the ReBuilding Center or other awesome nonprofits. Those little beans in the jars really add up and help support our education and community-building programs! Thank you to New Seasons Market for helping us build sustainable and equitable communities through reuse!

The Grant Park New Seasons is located at 3210 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232, and the Raleigh Hills branch is located at 7300 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Portland, OR 97225.

 Photo credit to Give!Guide

Photo credit to Give!Guide

Additionally, we have been selected to be featured in Willamette Week’s 2018 Give!Guide, which goes live on November 1 and ends on December 31. Give!Guide showcases select nonprofits and encourages donations at the end of each year by hosting Big Give Days, in which donors can win prizes by donating a minimum of $10 to a nonprofit of their choosing! This year, prizes range from a Powell’s Books Shopping Expedition to a trip to Brasada Ranch in Central Oregon, and the ReBuilding Center will be offering its own fun incentives for donors. Last year, we were honored to receive $10,000 in donations to support our work, and this year we are aiming for $15,000. Keep an eye out for an invite to our Give!Guide Launch Party this fall!


An Inside Look into the Past, Present, & Future of RBC with a Salvage Specialist

By: Chris Lambert

I started at the ReBuilding Center in November 2005, so I’ve been here twelve-going-on-thirteen years. When I look at the organization today, what gives me the most hope is that we seem to be pretty good at adapting and changing, and figuring out what we need to do to keep up. I see us consciously trying to do this, and this is good.

The meetings we’ve been having recently, the strategic planning meetings, and the conversations we’ve been having in our weekly Store meetings—we’re batting around ideas and focusing on the right things. Making improvements in the store and alleyway, finding ways to organize things better—this new activity has been good. Most important is that now we’re starting to go from general ideas to specific things we can do and concrete actions we can take.


As we translate ideas into concrete actions, I’m especially interested in how some of the key areas we’ve been talking about come together. The combination of improving the shopability of the store, improving wayfinding and making it easier to get around, improving signage—these efforts will make it easier for customers to shop here, and they’ll make it easier on staff too, as customers need to call on us less to answer questions about pricing or where to find things.

The real challenge for us will be to stay focused on our plans and not let our goals get buried by the day to day. Even though we’re making plans and trying to adapt, we can get so caught up in trying to keep up. We’re going to have to keep an eye on our long-term goals and make small changes when we can. This is the key. Big goals can seem overwhelming, but small changes every day and over time will slowly move us in the right direction.

If money weren’t a constraint, I’d invest in doing some painting on the inside to brighten up the interior and make things look better and cleaner. The other thing would be to make a parking or loading turn-out in the alleyway to help traffic flow through better and help speed up the donation process. An awning over the donation area would be nice too, so we would have shelter from the elements—for us and for customers, but also the stuff. If there was a cabinet donation and it was raining we could leave it outside while we figure out where to put it without it getting wet or damaged.


Working on efficiencies, shopability, getting the cashier space working right with the new point of sale system—all of this is really important. Also staffing—I think we need to get a few more people in. These are the most important things.

When someone comes to me looking for something they think they won’t be able to find—some little plumbing washer or something—and I’m pretty sure we have it and am able to help find it for them, they’re amazed. That’s my favorite part. Recently, a lady came in and I could tell she was anxious. She came in looking a very specific cabinet door, and she brought in an example with her. She asked for help and I said, “Oh yes, we have lots of cabinet doors,” and I sent her in the right direction. When she came back she was smiling, and I could see the relief in her. I could tell right away she found exactly what she wanted.

I’ve sort of been taking care of Ella Cat for a long time. She was here when I got here. I think Tom said she was here before we moved in. I hear she came with the building. I look out for her. Sometimes she’ll come to whine to me if something’s not right. There are only a few things it could be: food, water, potty…sometimes she just wants some attention. I notice she’s been a little mellower since she had her bad teeth pulled a few years ago. Now she has more patience for kids. I just took Ella Cat for her regular annual vet check-up. The doctor drew some blood, so we need to wait on the results from that. She had a few fleas, so they treated that, and her weight is down a little from last year, but at first glance the doctor said Ella Cat seems to be doing great and aging gracefully.

What do pets do for us? That’s a good question. We have to look out for them—they kind of make us less selfish, and more aware of other creatures.


This place really is a special and magical oasis in a crazy world. A place that’s a little closer what the world should be, where people can come and decompress, and that can serve as an example that something a little different is possible.

If this was the last day and the world ended tomorrow, I’d just want it to be like any given day at the ReBuilding Center. I’d pay attention, and just savor all the little details that I really like about it here. The energy and activity that goes on in the place, the interactions with customers and helping customers, seeing them smile when the find what they’re looking for, feeding and petting Ella Cat for the last time…

Just all the regular day to day stuff.


ReBuilding Center team member Kelly Stevens road-tripped to Eugene on June 13 to attend the Association of Oregon Recyclers' annual conference. In addition to connecting with others in the "Three Rs" realm, Kelly attended an inspiring session on reuse in action to support community creativity and entrepreneurship--including speaker Mitra Chester, the In-House Fashion Designer from St. Vincent de Paul in Eugene. A Reuse Fashion Show put on by St. Vinnie's? Who knew reuse could be so chic?

Another highlight was an interactive group field trip to BRING, a Eugene recycling and reuse institution since the 1970s. They have gotten pretty darn creative with some of their salvaged materials--including re-purposing street sweeper brushes to be used by farms with cows who need scratching posts, and using bed springs for fencing! From rhinos to toilet-cover art to a bike section to their Chapel of Second Chances (where a few weddings have taken place), the field trip was full of inspiration. See a few of the photos below:

Fun in the Sun around RBC: Our Summer Event Preview

By: Carina Dempsey 


First Up: Good in the Hood

On Saturday, June 23, the Rebuilding Center rocked the float while participating in the annual Good in the Hood parade! The parade started at the intersection of N Williams Ave & N Russell St and ended at King School Park. Renowned musical magician and RBC neighbor, Ural Thomas, and his band kept the party going on the float for five hours with fun tunes and ad-libbed ones, in the Ural tradition. What a fun celebration and historic community tradition!


Next: Mississippi Street Fair

The 2018 Mississippi Street Fair will be held Saturday, July 14th from 10am-9pm. Come out to celebrate the breadth and diversity of North Mississippi Avenue, and the individuals that make up this community. Spend a summer day checking out music, art, and food from local vendors, and learn more about the various businesses and nonprofits on or near Mississippi Ave. The Rebuilding Center will have an informational booth and games at the fair, as well as a special summer sale at our store with discounts you won’t want to miss. We’ll see you there!

Annual Ice Cream Social

Mark your calendars to cool off on North Mississippi Avenue: an ice cream social will be taking place August 30 at the Rebuilding Center and other businesses along the avenue! Make sure to stop by for a tasty summer treat, and to spend some quality time socializing with Rebuilding Center volunteers and staff. Additionally, if you have a furry friend, stay tuned for the doggie ice cream in the works.

The Oregon Tradeswomen Career Fair: Empowering Young Women Across Portland

By: Melissa Bockwinkel, Ella Rose Kelly, Becca Schultz & Mayela Alvarado

Tell us about the event you just attended:


Becca Schultz (BS): We attended the Oregon Tradeswomen Career Fair on Girls Day. 1,700 middle school and high school girls throughout Oregon participated. It is one of the largest hands-on career fairs in the nation. It gives girls the chance to experience construction trades in a women-led environment, which is not always how women are introduced to the trade. Girls have the opportunity to do everything from fixing a leaky water main to climbing telephone poles (spike shoes included!), riding in bucket trucks, shooting a firehouse, building things like bird houses, planter boxes, wiring a light, practicing welding and pipe bending, using propane torches, and laying down roofing. In addition to the hands-on work, they get a chance to talk to women who work in this field every day, women who could be seen as mentors to those interested in the trades. Starting to network and build relationships with professionals in the field is also an important element. Portland Women in Building!

Ella Rose Kelly (ERK): This year we concentrated on planter boxes. We had four different groups of 18-20 in size come through our area, and focused on middle school and high school age groups. Our goal was having the girls be able to handle power tools, work together as a team, and help each other out as planter boxes were finished—with no injuries!


Mayela Alvarado (MA): It is always an honor to represent the ReBuilding Center. It is fun and exciting to share who we are to a group of young women who may not have known about the ReBuilding Center or the reuse industry, and how to create something of value out of raw materials. It was lovely expressing the importance of the skills in reuse, such as safety and communication, and putting these skills into practice when the groups created their planter boxes. It was great to have the tools available for them and the pre-cut material—thanks to all who helped prep the materials! We encouraged them to work together as teams and everyone had fun on their projects. We have been doing this since the beginning (six years!) and it is always fun how we all pull together to make it a great experience for the participants. We are planting the seeds with these girls to whatever may come in their futures. In the end, they were able to create such beautiful projects.

What was one highlight from the day that stood out to you?

ERK: One girl with short-blond hair and Carhartts—she was frustrated to start, and just the joy on her face when she finished made my day that she had something to take home and plant her tomatoes in.


BS: This year I volunteered as a VIP Tour Guide. I got to chat with women from DHS in Central Oregon, working with women in the tribes, those formerly incarcerated, and those who are sole providers of their family. We talked about how to get women into the construction trades to make a living wage. Construction provides not only living wage but prevailing wage jobs, while at the same time not incurring any student debt.

A second highlight of the day was just being there seeing 1,700 girls be exposed to the trades, seeing their faces light up when they experienced any one of the activities, and igniting the sense of opportunity. They can do this kind of thing too and also may do it better.

MA: One of the teachers was regretting that she had not heard about us in order to make room for her students. I asked her to stop back at the end and we were able to provide her with some of the extra materials we had left over from the other groups so she could take it back to her classroom and complete the planter boxes later.


Why is the ReBuilding Center’s partnership with Oregon Tradeswomen important?

ERK: We empower and encourage. We don’t just value existing materials—we value our community resources as well. It’s important to teach the youth about their futures, to not waste things and fill the landfill but, rather, to be more aware of how materials can be reused.

MA: Giving the girls insight into reuse possibilities, along with hands-on exposure using hand tools to create a useful project with the help of each other.

As more women get involved in the trades, how do you think the trades will change?

BS: We can bring a different skillset and thought process to the trades that historically hasn’t been there. It makes more job sites equitable for everyone, and more accepting and welcoming to diversity in the workplace. I also think it will bring more compassion to the workplace. Women can be really good at building teams, and as more women enter the trades, we can expect to see more women as supervisors and more equitable building practices. We can build more of a connection to “place,” and people may be more tied to the communities they are in. There is also the chance to bring a different approach to problem solving.

ERK: I think the trades will become more non-traditional. We are challenging the stereotype that women should stay in the home by having more women present out in the trade fields, climbing ladders, and as electricians.

The “Wash and Pack” Project with Mudbone Grown

By: Sam Serling-Sutton

 This past May, I had the privilege of working with a group of farmers from Portland’s own urban farming nonprofit, Mudbone Grown. They approached us in the ReBuilding Center’s workshop to see if we could aid in the process of designing and building a “Wash and Pack” station, and while my carpentry career could graciously be described as “eclectic,” it has never once led me to build, let alone hear about anything akin to such a project. I was instantly on board.


On the first morning, the shop slowly filled with bleary eyes. Fifteen farmers-to-be milled around waiting to begin, waiting to be told what they were going to build and how they were going to build it. Luckily for them, we were all on the same page of nescience, which led us easily into the first step of successful design: dreaming. With no other direction than programmatic need, we separated into small groups and asked each to draw out ideal stations with no limitations.

What we saw out of these initial iterations were beautifully thought-out stations—some with drawers and roofs, others with hanging portions and shelves, and even one with a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that washed and dried the vegetables on its own. Each idea was trotted out and presented in turn before we placed them all on a table and discussed them as a whole. 


Design is about translation and communication. The process needs to be led through intention rather than pretension. It’s one of the most intoxicating processes I’ve found and one that I aim to replicate consistently in my life. Performing this as a group is instantly democratic. There isn’t room for form above function; for personalities before operations.

Over the course of the first day, we were able to make our way through about three more of these mini design-studios. At the end of the day, we had discovered as a group the shape and specifics of our Wash and Pack station! An entirely unique and bespoke piece of farming equipment that was soon to exist.

Between the first and second days, the Mudbone crew was tasked with following the cut list that they had created from their drawn-out plans and sections in order to purchase the necessary equipment. The station required mostly lumber, in addition to a few sinks—all of which was effortlessly corralled right here at the Rebuilding Center (the best part of doing a design-build here in the Education shop!).

With the bulk of the design work behind us, day two flowed much in the same way that the rest of our classes do. We were able to lead the team through a series of tutorials on safe shop usage in addition to training on measuring techniques, drill presses, chop saws, etc. The day was spent bringing our skills up to the level we needed in order to pull off our table in addition to a little more on-the-fly scheming and design (who would have thought sinks were so deep???).



The process of any design-build is, while continuously frustrating, endlessly rewarding. The process helps to demystify the built environment. It illustrates just how accessible our world can be despite often feeling exactly the opposite. A table isn’t anything more than four legs and a top. A house isn’t more than four walls and a roof. It’s all the same skills implemented at different scales. You take wood apart and you put it back together. If you can learn to do the first part safely and the second part carefully, you’ll begin to see that the universe is rich with these small coincidences.

By day three, the Mudbone crew and I had seemingly switched places. For one, it was my turn to show up bleary-eyed to their space. That morning, as I pulled up to their latest farm plot, I saw the 12 of them busily moving lumber and setting up tools, eager to erect their creation. I honestly can’t take any credit for actually putting the Wash and Pack station together—I don’t think I even touched a drill that day. It wasn’t three hours from the time I arrived that we were all happily standing around the completed station trying to design a roof structure out of our extra lumber!


While the specifics of this endeavor are a little different than the usual fare we have in and out of our Education shop it’s in no other way unique. It’s one of the thousands of things I love about the Rebuilding Center. The students who come through our shop are, without exception, outstanding. There is an eagerness and appreciation for the craft. The space that we have created here, tucked away in the back of our building, is something I’ve not witnessed in any of the other shops I’ve worked in. It is truly exceptional and I can’t wait to see what other incredible opportunities and experiences continue to emerge.

Portland Timbers Help us “Tetris” in the Lumberyard

By: Carina Dempsey

In the evening of Thursday, June 14, we had the pleasure of hosting some members of the Portland Timbers team as part of the traditional Stand Together Week—to get their hands dirty with us at the ReBuilding Center and help us sort some of our latest donations of salvaged wood. Timbers’ defender Harold Hanson, retired player Nat Borchers , and video analyst Shannon Murray all came to the Rebuilding Center, spending a couple of hours in the lumberyard with several enthusiastic RBC staff members.


Throughout the evening, staff members Chris Larsen and Pete Heim showed the Timbers crew how to grade the historic lumber, and eventually they got to do the grading themselves. They helped organize the materials by standing up some tall pieces of cedar wood vertically against the wall in the lumber yard. The evening was filled with the grading, straightening, and sorting of wood, and smiles all around.

 An old 2” x 4” pictured on the left and a modern 2” x 4” on the right.

An old 2” x 4” pictured on the left and a modern 2” x 4” on the right.

Chris said that the Timbers really enjoyed their time at RBC and were excited to help out. He also said that they were very interested in learning about the history of the lumber in our store. In some cases, the lumber here has up to 100 years of growth rings, while the modern wood pieces only have about 10. This means that some of the wood from our store has the potential to be hundreds of years old, and still has never left Portland! Talk about sticking to your roots.

A huge thank you to the Portland Timbers for coming out to the Rebuilding Center, lending some helping hands, and showing their support. Be sure to drop by the lumberyard to check out some of the 2” x 4”s they sorted, and of course, go Timbers!

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