ReBuilding Center 2017 in Review: Building Community Together

One of the most inspiring aspects of the ReBuilding Center is being surrounded by a community of doers. In our Store, there’s a constant flow of neighbors dropping off materials and shopping for salvaged treasures. In our ReFind classes, a fresh crop of DIY students roll up their sleeves each week to learn new carpentry and home repair skills. In surrounding neighborhoods, our free pick-up drivers and DeConstruction crews team up with residents to make sure building materials are salvaged and reused instead of demolished and sent to landfills. Across the city, community-building projects keep sprouting up, from cultural pop-up markets in our Commons area to solar-powered tiny houses in Dignity Village.

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With so much in motion, it’s easy to be excited about what’s next. Before the sawdust settles on 2017, let’s take a moment to reflect on what we built together in 2017.

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In our ReBuilding Center Store, and together with Portland’s thriving reuse community, we found homes for millions of pounds of building materials, and made materials donations to over 200 community projects, with a special focus on contributing to the construction and repair of villages for community members experiencing houselessness. New leadership on the Driving team helped expand our free pick-up outreach into Portland’s neighborhoods, and prevent everything from vintage and modern appliances to full kitchen cabinet sets from going to the landfill.

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Our DeConstruction teams took apart and salvaged up to 85% of the materials from 25 whole houses and 10 garages in 2017 – structures and materials that otherwise would have been demolished and sent to the landfill. Our team of Deconstructionists, Salvage Specialists, and Drivers was honored with a national award from the Building Materials Reuse Association in recognition of our contribution to the national and local conversation and action around deconstruction, salvage, and reuse.

The ways we serve the community are as diverse as the community we aim to serve. The common thread that runs through? We leverage our space, people, materials, and resources to support community-owned actions for a more sustainable and equitable Portland. 2017 brought changes, challenges, and tremendous growth to the ReBuilding Center:

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  • We engaged over 3,200 – a record-high number - of volunteers in Store, ReFind Classes, marketing, de-nailing, and administrative activities.
  • We organized and executed “Day of Service 2017,” providing home repairs for 15 neighbors.
  • We responded to sold-out classes in our ReFind Shop by offering even more hands-on learning experiences for adults and kids on how to safely and creatively work with building materials. Our Education program was awarded “Best New Program” by the Association of Oregon Recyclers.
  • We hosted a two-day Black Friday Market in partnership with Right2Root, where 13 entrepreneurs of color made average sales of approximately $250.
  • We helped three grassroots projects get off the ground: Mudbone Grown, Play Grow Learn, and Right2Root. We also helped three new community projects launch: Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Alliyah Sells Books, and Boise-Eliot Grove.
  • We launched “ReBuilding Center Road,” a creative reuse theme park as part of Alberta Last Thursday events in June, July, and August.
  • Grant- and donation-based revenue doubled in 2017, and will continue to provide support for community-building initiatives in the year to come.

Thanks to our passionate staff, dedicated volunteers, hard-working board members, and wonderful supporters like you, we have been able to build this place into something so special and impactful in the community that when you mention the ReBuilding Center, the inevitable response is “I love that place!”


As we celebrate our 20th year, we are honored to have your support and participation. We invite you to join us as we explore ways to tell the story of how the ReBuilding Center is building community through reuse and engage community members in becoming a part of that story so we can build a more inclusive and sustainable future for our community together!

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Alison Dennis
Interim Executive Director

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