Under new management, Community Outreach at the ReBuilding Center is 275 days (almost a year) into its newly created strategic work plan under the direction of Edward Hill. Hill was hired last August to succeed and continue the work of Linda Hunter; one of the key founders of Our United Villages, the origin point and foundations of the now-named ReBuilding Center, by reaching out and starting conversations with community members about their situations and what might help face a challenge.
There is so much to share and update! In 2016 the Village Coalition, the houseless convening group that found a safe space to hold meetings at ReBuilding Center, is now a formal nonprofit organization with leadership, a voting and decision making process, and committees that are changing the game in how houselessness and villages are treated and supported in Portland. Black Williams Project found partnership with Portland Bureau of Transportation and is launching soon with City support. And NE STEAM Coalition has secured funding with the State of Oregon Regional Solutions Center to address brownfield remediation (clean-up of local soil toxins).
So, what is Community Outreach doing? There are some awesome projects that we are providing support and technical assistance to that are not only growing in impact, but are also creating really clear demonstrations of what it means to be working “in community with community for community!”
Work has continued under the grounded philosophy that the ReBuilding Center’s work is always working to provide resources, tools, and materials to those that are seeking to make “a thing” better for more people. Community Outreach has continued to bolster that position and grow.
Here are some highlights:
We are honored to be providing support to Right2Root, a community-led design assisting gentrification-affected community members to build complete communities that increasingly improve health/wealth outcomes, led and designed by Cat Goughnour. With RBC support, Right2Root is writing grants to submit for program operations and stipends. Right2Root, with ZGF Architects, will be holding a launch event in early June in the ReBuilding Center Commons. As part of her work, Cat will be holding workshops, DIY teach-ins, and “pop-up” market events scheduled through December ’17.
Farming & Food Education
Featured the February newsletter, Mudbone Grown is getting into their spring 2017 growing season at the newly renamed “Unity Farm” located at Oregon Food Bank and will be having their open house on June 9. Art Shavers and Shantae Johnson, owners of MudBone, have been working with ReBuilding Center to identify contracts and training opportunities to improve their farm start-up, and utilizing recycled materials as part of their farm build-out plan.
Green Workforce Development Collaborative
A new dynamic partnership of community organizations, NGOs, trainers, “green” businesses, and job development specialists is working to bring equity to the ground and address gaps in current workforce programs for highly impacted populations. This work, funded partially by Meyer Memorial Trust and Metro, is the first phase in a broader community-driven effort to build a more resilient pathway for populations under-represented in waste management, materials recycling, green infrastructure, and environmental services.
This is just the beginning of much more exciting and space-activating work from Community Outreach. This summer we are working with other staff and departments to install murals in the alley and on the front of the building. We are completing the restoration and painting of the cob “Community Trees” at the main entrance, hosting poetry at the Mississippi Ave. Street Fair and a Native American Craft Market & Fish Fry on June 23rd, and cleaning-up our bioswales on the Michigan Ave. side of the store with volunteers in July.