Hands-On Volunteer Opportunities @ RBC

The ReBuilding Center is looking for hands-on volunteers! From helping seventh-graders design and build guitars in our wood shop, to taking photos and writing for our newsletter team, to working with salvaged materials in our store, there are so many ways to serve RBC’s mission to build community through reuse. Check out some of our current volunteer opportunities below!

Maker Space Teaching Assistants Needed

We are looking for teaching assistants and shop stewards for Adult Classes and Portland Public Schools' 7th Grade Maker Experience! If you have basic wood shop or carpentry experience, consider signing up to help with our new educational programming! These opportunities are perfect for anyone who enjoys teaching and inspiring others through hands-on mentorship. Shifts vary from project to project, and material prep shifts can be scheduled flexibly. For more information, please contact dave@rebuildingcenter.org.

Join the Media Team every Thursday

Every week, the newsletter team meets with Ashley, RBC’s Communications & Marketing Manager, to write, do interviews, take photos, and put together the ReBuilding Center’s e-newsletters! These newsletters are great portfolio/resume builders!

Our newsletter team is comprised of volunteers just like you! This is your newsletter, written by volunteers, for the ReBuilding Center community.

 Sign up if you have an interest in:

  • Photography/Videography
  • Journalism/Social Media
  • Sustainability
  • Creative Reuse
  • Graphic Design

Channel your creativity into serving our mission to build community through reuse!

Volunteer Discount for Film Workshops

Portland Community Media (PCM) is offering a discount to all ReBuilding Center volunteers! Active volunteers can enjoy 10% off any of their workshops! Not a volunteer? Sign up here!

Nick Storie, The Man With A Vision

You never know what you'll find at The Rebuilding Center. Just ask Nick Storie. 

There are many colorful characters amongst the regular shoppers at the ReBuilding Center. It’s one of the reasons people love this place. Nick Storie is one of those characters, and one with a story.

One wouldn’t describe Nick Storie as the retiring type, by profession or personality. He’s got opinions; and he’s had them for a long-time. When I asked Nick why he shops at the ReBuilding Center, Nick wasn’t subtle: “We’ve clear-cut every f***ing thing from one side of the country to the other. It’s gotta stop. There’s gotta be some reverence for life in all of its forms.” 

And so Nick does his part, salvaging materials, reusing materials, repurposing materials.

"My father was into heavy construction and my grandfather before him. I went into it. Started running machines at 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. Playing with bulldozers, stuff like that. I went to Oregon Tech, got into highway engineering. Ran loaders, and bulldozers, that kind of stuff. Then I got into the demolition business. We took out structures, put in temporary bridges, bridges that were coming down. I ran three different landfills. And I saw all of this s*** coming in—12x12’s—long lengths—they just got rid of them because you could buy them cheaper than you could find out where to put them. I’m thinking 'this is insane…'"

Eventually, Nick met his wife Sue, raised a family, and got into the concrete barrier business. Nick did the sales and it was easy and good money. On any road construction project, there’s a line where the barriers are placed. Nick placed the barriers where they were supposed to go. As he described it, “How could I screw it up?”

Anytime Nick and Sue made a profit, Nick plowed his money back into real estate. He had two rules: 1) it had to be within biking distance of his home at 24th and Knott in Northeast Portland; and 2) it had to be quality construction. He’d fix them up and rent them out. “It’s not like I was a genius. If I was a genius, I’d have bought more homes.”

Currently, Nick’s finishing the remodel of two homes near the corner of Knott and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The identical homes were built in 1906 but they have good bones.

"Why tear them down and build something new? Why in the year 2016 can’t we put them together so they stand another 100 years? And utilize some used and reused materials to do it. That’s where it’s at, man."

From doors to floors, windows, and appliances, Nick gets most of his materials from the ReBuilding Center. On a tour of his remodeled homes, Nick points out the various materials he acquired from RBC. “That’s your cabinet; those are your doors. See that window there? You put your desk here, and you look up through that window I bought at the ReBuilding Center and you can see the West Hills.” 

I asked Nick if he had any parting remarks. He replied, “Sure, send your kids to school. Make sure they study hard or someday, someway, they may end up like me. So mom and dad that message is for you. Send your kids to school. Get them smart, or they’ll end up like me."

How to Manage Stormwater & Rain Planter Facelift Event

Get hands-on experience and learn about rain gardens, storm water management, and creative landscaping with salvaged materials.

Saturday, November 12th

8:30 - 9:00 A.m. Sign-in
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. breakfast
9:30 -11:00 a.m. planting party
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. rain garden talk

at the ReBuilding Center
3625 N Mississippi Ave

Come support the ReBuilding Center and learn about stormwater management! Blossom Earthworks and the ReBuilding Center will be hosting a volunteer work-party to help the ReBuilding Center restore its stormwater planters. The two planters line the front of the building and are designed to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from the building by teaming up with thirsty, water-loving plants


Breakfast will be held in the parking lot and the talk will be held inside the administrative offices (look for the red brick building and red door) at the ReBuilding Center at: 
3625 N Mississippi Ave Portland, OR.

We will be supplying food/beverage from Verde Cocina.

Read the following article by Mike Conover, Ecological Designer at Blossom Earthworks:

It’s no secret that Portland and the Pacific Northwest gets a lot of rain. However, most buildings, parking lots, roads, and other impermeable surfaces prevent much of this rainwater from infiltrating into the ground. Instead, it often flows into the sewer or Portland's rivers and streams. As it flows it picks up oils, heavy metals, sediment, and other contaminants along with it. This can disrupt local ecosystems, cause water quality issues, and place unnecessary burdens on wastewater treatment plants.

The good news is there are a number of ways to reduce stormwater runoff, filter it, and allow it to infiltrate into the ground, recharging our groundwater. Some of the systems that do this work include stormwater planters, bioswales, Green Streets, and infiltration basins, among others. Portland has put a lot of effort toward managing its stormwater, so you may have seen them around the city without even realizing it.

In 2005, the ReBuilding Center completed an onsite stormwater management demonstration project, designed to treat and infiltrate 870,000 gallons of rainwater each year. Five stormwater planters and a permeable parking lot capture and filter this water, sending it straight into the ground instead of the storm-drains or sewer.

Plants, and especially wetland plants, not only drink lots of water but they clean it too. It’s easy to overlook wetlands because they are less noticeable compared to dramatic landscapes like mountains or canyons but wetlands are essential to functional ecosystems and watershed health. Wetlands are often described as the “kidneys of the planet” for the work they do filtering and cleaning the Earth’s water. By using wetland plants native to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in our stormwater management facilities, we can clean stormwater while providing habitat and food for local wildlife at the same time. Many of the grasses, sedges, and rushes you see lining the street or in planters and swales are doing just this. There are even beautiful flowers such as iris, camas and milkweeds that thrive in stormwater plantings.

It’s easy to think of the city and “nature” as different places. In reality there is no separation.

That alley near your house, the big office building, and the vacant lot are just as much nature as the forests, lakes, and mountains that surround us. We are part of a larger ecosystem that feeds, supports, and nourishes us whether we realize it or not, and clean water is essential not only our own health but all the plants and animals that we share our planet with. Keeping this water clean is no easy task but fortunately we can partner with native wetland plant communities to filter and reduce our city’s stormwater runoff. By working with the Earth’s biological and ecological processes (that evolved over the past 3.8 billion years!) we can restore ecological function to our urban environment, keeping our waters clean for humans and all life.

If you want to learn more about how we can all play a part in reducing stormwater runoff, come out to the ReBuilding Center on November 12th to get some first hand experience and a tasty breakfast!

"Priced Out: 15 Years Of Gentrification In Portland. Oregon"

Was there ever a time when some Portlanders thought gentrification was a good idea, when neighborhoods said there was too much affordable housing? 

The film NorthEast Passage documented life in Albina in the late 1990s when crime and abandoned buildings were the neighborhood's number-one concern. Rising home prices and outside investors were welcomed by many. A lot has changed for the better and a lot of mistakes were made for the worse.

Come to a screening of NorthEast Passage and participate in a panel discussion about what the lessons learned in Albina can teach the rest of the city. Discuss the issues with people featured in the film and see clips from the upcoming sequel, Priced Out.

Doors open at 6:15pm, discussion at 8pm.
Seating capacity is limited;
advanced ticket purchase is encouraged.
Thursday, Nov. 3, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17.

Screenings are a fundraiser for Priced Out, a nonprofit project in association with Northwest Documentary Arts & Media. Discussion sponsored by Ignorant/Reflections' Gentrification Is Weird project. Tickets $10–$20 sliding scale. Screenings at Northwest Documentary, 6 NE Tillamook St., Portland. For more information, email pricedoutmovie@gmail.com.

A section of NorthEast Passage and a trailer for the upcoming sequel, Priced Out, will be on display at the ReBuilding Center starting in 2017 as part of the Commons interactive kiosk project.

More info about the project:

Priced Out is an investigative and personal look at how skyrocketing housing prices are displacing Portland's black community and reshaping the entire city.  The feature-length documentary explores the complexities and contradictions of gentrification and what neighborhood life means after the era of "The Ghetto." 

The film is a sequel to the 2002 documentary NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream.

Priced Out is currently in production with an expected release in winter of 2016/17.

A nonprofit project in partnership with Northwest Documentary Arts & Media

Two local residents, Cornelius Swart and Spencer Wolf, took five years to produce the original film.  The two are teaming up once again for the sequel.

Please consider giving to this important project by joining us on Kickstarter and Facebook.

In the late 1990s, Nikki Williams, a black single mother, embraced the gentrification that was making inroads into her community. But more than 15 years later Williams found herself one of the last black residents on her block. Priced Out follows Williams as she decides to sell her home—built by Habitat for Humanity—and move to Dallas, Texas, in search of a new black community.

Now, 15 years after the film was shot, Governing Magazine has ranked Portland as the most gentrified city in America. Nikki's neighborhood has become one of the trendiest places in the country to live. Crime is down, houses have been fixed up, and new bars and restaurants open up almost every day. But half the black population has left and average home prices have gone from $30,000 to $410,000. 

The neighborhoods of North/Northeast Portland have gone from being majority black to majority white. Rents are climbing, homes are being replaced with apartment blocks, and the word “gentrification” is on everyone’s lips.

 Why did such a dramatic change occur and what does this change mean for residents of other communities that face gentrification?

Priced Out will reconnect with the residents and activists featured in the first film to see what’s happened to the neighborhood and find out what will happen next as the community continues to struggle with its identity and its place in the American Dream.

Gentrification, once a phenomena that occurred only in big cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, is now cropping up in cities from San Antonio to St. Louis to Portland, Maine. Why is this happening?

The film will reexamine public policy and economic forces surrounding gentrification to create a time-lapse portrait of North/Northeast Portland’s rapid transformation and what it does and does not have in common to other gentrifying communities in the nation. 


Our volunteer-led newsletter team recently asked local Do-It-Yourself'er, Rachel, who also goes by the blogger moniker "DIY in PDX," a few questions about her projects and motivations. We are inspired by her use of repurposed materials and we hope you are too! 

How often do you do a DIY project? 

I do a DIY project at least once a week for my blog, plus many other random DIYs around the house.

How did you get into DIY?  

I think DIY runs in my blood. My parents were always working on projects around their house, from sewing to tiling to gardening. My mom taught me how to sew when I was in elementary school, and one summer the four kids in my family all helped my parents build a huge wooden deck. My paternal grandmother is the craftiest person I know, and she taught me to cross-stitch when I was a kid, and then when I was a teenager she taught me to knit, and my other grandmother taught me crochet. My grandparents lived in Michigan, and I grew up in Oregon, so we only visited them once every year or two, but when we did I loved going into their basement, because it was full of cool craft supplies and tools, like full-size weaving looms and a potter's wheel. An aunt and uncle in Idaho literally built their own house from trees they cut down and milled. I think all of these family members showed me that anyone can learn to do most things themselves. As I got older I just found myself wanting to try to learn how to do more things myself, and it kind of snowballed from there. 

Are all of your ideas original? 

Are any ideas original? Everything comes from somewhere! I don't want to copy anyone, though, so I always try to put my own spin on projects that inspire me, and add to them in some way. Replicating exactly what someone else has done is boring.

Where do you draw your inspiration? 

All sorts of places! Blogs, Pinterest, magazines, shops, hotels, restaurants--there's inspiration everywhere you go once you start looking for it! When I'm out and about, I often snap pictures with my phone, and save them for inspiration. 

It seems like a lot of the DIY projects call for tools that would not necessarily be found in the common home. How do you have all these tools? Are there any work arounds for people new to DIY-ing? 

I actually try hard not to use tools that are hard to find. Aside from a few power tools, like a miter saw, power sander, and electric drill, I'd expect most of the tools I use to be pretty common. For the less common ones (like a tubing cutter, leather punch, or rivet setter), I've just gradually accumulated them over years of DIY. While you can buy pretty much any tool you want from the internet these days, some of my tools have come from places like thrift stores, garage sales, SCRAP, and the the ReBuilding Center. Put the word out to family and friends that you're trying to build up your toolbox, and you may even get lucky when someone is downsizing. Watch out for sales--my dad has all the tools I need, but I bought my miter saw and jigsaws during Father's Day sales. If a tool you need is too expensive, or you know you only need it for one project, see if you can borrow it from family or friends, or check one of Portland's tool libraries. They're a great resource that we're lucky to have here. 

Do you sell any of your creations or are they all for your own personal use?

In the past I sold jewelry and accessories, but right now all of my creations are for personal use.

I see that you tend to incorporate a lot of used materials in your DIY projects, do you prefer to utilize used materials over new materials? 

I love to use repurposed or used materials whenever possible, and I would do it even more if I could. The only tricky issues are that sometimes it's faster and easier to find the materials new, and since I blog my projects as tutorials, I need to try to use materials that other people can easily find, too. Plus, a lumberyard will cut wood to a size I can fit in my little hatchback.

What does creative reuse mean to you?

Creative reuse means looking for new and unexpected ways to utilize materials that might otherwise be thrown away. 

Can you recall a time that you were especially creative with your reuse and saw the greatest transformation/change?

Geez, this is a tough one! My favorite transformations tend to be the ones that involve taking a castoff and making it into something I value. So what comes to mind is that recently I found some copper pipes from a neighbor's bathroom remodel on a curb, and I turned them into a plant stand. I also bought my wedding dress for literally $1 at a flea market, and altered it into a dress I love.

How did you hear about the ReBuilding Center?

I think I just noticed the distinctive building when I was walking down Mississippi, got curious about the interior, and wandered in one day.

Salvaged Wood Frames Showcase Local Artists Work in Pancakes & Booze Art Show

Local artist, Sean Lafferty, came to the ReBuilding Center with the simple desire to get involved. As an artist who lives in the area and who enjoys incorporating salvaged materials as much as he can in to his work, the ReBuilding Center has always been on his radar. Initially applying for an internship position, Dave Lowe, the Volunteer Services Manager, sat down with Sean to gain a better understanding of what Sean would like to do. Following this conversation, the two decided to make use of Sean’s artistic talents in the woodshop and thus began an apprenticeship with ReBuilding Center’s skilled frame-maker, Chris Lambert. After learning the art, working with the old-growth wood, Sean created his own beautiful frames for his artwork to show in the Pancakes and Booze art show that took place last Friday, June 10th where I was able to chat with Sean about his work.

Sean’s says a desire to keep Mother Earth healthy has inspired a passion for reuse. He was influenced at an early age by his father, an engineer, who built an electric car in the 1970’s. In the past he has used cardboard and paint pens as a medium and consistently tries to incorporate reused and natural materials in his work. Sean recalls an early encounter he had incorporating salvaged materials into his art: he found some chip board at a construction dump, took it home and cut it into a frame for one of his pieces on cardboard and finished it off with some used plexiglass. About his aesthetic, Sean says, “used material adds another element of earth and another element of existence.” Sean believes that sometimes the most creative things come from being confined by the materials themselves - it throws something into the process that the artist has to work around to complete their vision and make something beautiful. 

Although Sean had some experience as a kid in his family’s woodshop, he claims to have no real wood working experience prior to coming to the ReBuilding Center. Partnering with Chris Lambert, Salvaged Specialist at the ReBuilding Center, Sean was taught everything from the ground up about woodworking and building frames. All the pieces at the Pancakes and Booze art show feature his artwork in pigmented Indian ink and is showcased in these reused frames. Sean shared how Indian ink presents its own challenges because it must be diluted with water to get the desired shade of a particular color.

For example, you can see all the different shades of color the come from diluting the blue ink background around the oak tree in the framed image on the top left.

For example, you can see all the different shades of color the come from diluting the blue ink background around the oak tree in the framed image on the top left.

Sean featured seven different pieces in the Pancakes and Booze art show, most of them depicting different species of trees. Sean explained that the work featured in the art show honed in on two specific topics: “personal change” and “the development of an idea.” For example, the piece of the butterfly undergoing metamorphism represents the process of turning into one’s most fully realized self. In Sean’s tree species series, you can see a seed at the root of each tree. From each seed a massive life form flourishes, which represents the initial “seed” of an idea planted in your mind as it grows into its full potential.

This event marked Sean’s third Pancakes and Booze show where he has shown his artwork. Pancakes and Booze is one of the largest pop-up underground art showcases in the country. The event occurs every six months or so and has taken place in over fifteen cities across the nation with the aim to give local artists a pedestal to feature their art outside of the corporate structure.

June Community Event Guide!

Here's your guide to start your summer off right with a melange of N/NE Portland events geared towards strengthening the social and environmental fabric of community!

This weekend

This Must Be The Place: The Courtyard at One North Summer Party
Saturday, June 18, 2-6 p.m.
North Fremont & North Williams

The Boise & Eliot neighborhoods in North Portland are getting a new public space, and to welcome the community to the Courtyard, One North is throwing a summer gathering in the style of a classic neighborhood block party!

The Boise Neighborhood Association will be offering a free painting activity with paint donated from Metro and doors, windows and tiles supplied by the ReBuilding Center.

On June 18th, this community-centric event will celebrate the past, present, and future of the North Williams/Vancouver corridor with Music provided by Ural Thomas & the Pain, Farnell Newton & the Othership Connection, and Andre St. James.

Art presented by The Black Williams Project, historic walking tours given by neighborhood historian O.B. Hill, and spoken word poetry from the CENTER youth. Also on hand will be a plethora of local food and drink provided by New Seasons Market, Las Primas, Bread & Honey Café, POA Cafe and Whole Bowl!

Juneteenth Celebrations

On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers brought Texans the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth, the observance of that date, has become a national celebration of freedom. From June 14th – 19th join us in several celebrations in that spirit. 

Juneteenth:  Words Along the Way
Saturday, June 14, 6 p.m.
512 N. Killingsworth St.

North Portland Neighborhood Library’s annual celebration on the lawn with words and music under the skies. There will also be a performance by PassinArt: A Theater Company that will inspire us with words of African-American ancestors.  As always, we'll conclude with a make-your-own-sundae Ice Cream Social.  (So whatever you do, don't eat dessert beforehand!) The program will take place on the back lawn of the Library; in the case of rain, it will be moved to the 2nd floor auditorium.

The Clara Peoples Freedom Trail Parade
Saturday June 18, 10:45 a.m.  
Parade starts at NE 8th and Jarrett, and winds up at Russell and Williams.

We march to honor the memory of Oregon's Mother of Juneteenth, Mrs. Clara Peoples.

Bridging The Gap
Saturday, June 18, 12-7 p.m.
Legacy Emanuel Field, Russell St between Williams and Vancouver.

Fun ~ Parade ~ Community Vendors ~ Music ~ Family Activities ~ food Vendors ~ Live Entertainment ~ Kids Area ~ Hip-Hop Yoga ~ Spokenword

The Clara Peoples Freedom Trail Parade
Saturday, June 18, 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Parade starts on 8th & Jarrett, south on MLK, west on Russell

For information on For more information go to: www.juneteenthpdx.com


24th Annual Good in the Hood: Multicultural Music, Arts & Foods Festival

Good in the Hood (GITH) is a non-profit organization founded in 1990.  Our purpose is to be a creative medium by which Portland residents, businesses and organizations can engage in music, food and resources while connecting people with experiences that strengthen unity in the community. The GITH Music and Food festival is the largest multi-cultural festival in the Pacific NW.  This three-day music festival opens with a community parade that travels through Northeast Portland and ends at Lillis-Albina Park.

Good in the Hood Parade
Saturday, June 25, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Parade starts from King Elementary School Park, ends at Lillis Albina Park.

Check the ReBuilding Center out on our float featuring music by Ural Thomas!

ReBuilding Center's Good in the Hood Parade float back in 2011 with Ural Thomas!

ReBuilding Center's Good in the Hood Parade float back in 2011 with Ural Thomas!

Good in the Hood Festival
June 24 – June 26
Lillis Albina Park, N. Flint St & Russell St.

For Good in the Hood's free events calendar (including a kick-off party and mixer) and to learn about volunteer opportunities check out their website:

City of Portland Sunday Parkways
June 26, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
N. Mississippi Ave & Ainsworth

Sunday Parkways promotes healthy active living through a series of free events opening the city's largest public space - its streets - to walk, bike, roll, and discover active transportation while fostering civic pride, stimulating economic development, and representing the community, business, and government investments in Portland's vitality, livability, and diversity.   

On June 26th, thousands of smiling faces will gather in North Portland to bike, walk, and roll across the double loop 9.5 mile scenic route that glides along the Willamette Boulevard and over to Peninsula Rose Garden, Arbor Lodge, Kenton, and McCoy Parks. While you are there, enjoy a spot of good food, good laughs, and good music!

Stop by N. Mississippi Ave and Ainsworth to see the ReBuilding Center in action, get free stickers and play games!

PDX Carpet Lives On

The already challenging project of replacing the 13 acres of beloved carpet in the Portland International Airport was complicated even further by the Port of Portland’s ambitious "Five Years to Zero Waste" plan which called for waste diversion of 90% or greater. The “zero waste” initiative caused the Port to maintain sustainability requirements at the forefront of the carpet replacement project and in doing so was able to discover enough different outlets of reuse to recycle all 13 acres of the PDX carpet.

With the original plan to send the carpet to a waste to energy (WTE) facility, 5 acres of the carpet ended up being repurposed as furniture upholstery, batting cage turf, flooring in local buildings and a variety of other novelty goods. The remaining 8 acres of carpet were sent to a facility in California that recycled carpet fibers to make carpet pad. Even when installing the new carpet the Port continued to recycle the rest of the project’s waste.

To learn more about the carpet replacement project and how reuse can be incorporated to a construction project of any size click the button below.

PSU Architecture Students Build RBC Trade Show Booth

Videographer, director & editor: Ryan Fruge

The ReBuilding center has teamed up the Portland State University's architecture program to create a new booth for ReBuilding Center to use in trade shows and community events. Much like the interactive kiosks that are being built for ReBuilding Center's Commons launch, the trade show booths too should be visually appealing and functional.  The new design hopes to encourage and build relationships within the community and inspired poeple with reuse ideas. The booth aims to further understanding of ReBuilding Center's mission and all of its component parts. It will showcase our commitment to the reuse of building materials through DeConstruction as well as our Community Outreach Program, volunteer services and information about our warehouse donations and available materials. Margarette Leite is the instructor at PSU to the architecture students involved in the trade show booth project and shared some information on the project.

When the trade show booth was its developing stages, there were many ideas thrown out on what to incorporate; a mini museum, showcasing objects found at DeConstruction sites; a photo gallery displaying photos of homes through the DeConstruction process. The students had to respond to technical challenges such as how to include video aspects like the kiosks or how supply lighting without being reliant on an electrical source. They played with the idea of magnets and incorporated a metal sheet into their design. Students found ways to use both rough and finished pieces to show the range of materials available at the ReBuilding Center. 

To keep the concept fluid throughout, certain guidelines had to be meet. Size constraints were established to be sure the booth was booth mobile and easily transported. Structural integrity had to considered due to the wear and tear, and possible damage over time.

Day of Service: RBC & AAAH help stem displacement of long-term homeowners in N/NE Portland

The ReBuilding Center in collaboration with the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH) began an inaugural “Day of Service” this last Saturday, June 11th, an event that helps stem displacement of long-term residents of N/NE Portland. Staff from the ReBuilding Center and AAAH as well as dozens of volunteers showed up bright and early on Saturday morning, coffee in hand, to get going on some home repairs for members of their community. We focused on five different projects ranging from cement pouring to yard work to house painting. It was a powerful experience to be able to talk to homeowners and hear their stories, perspective on the development of the area, and about the complexity of issues surrounding gentrification.


Since 1958, Ruth has seen her neighborhood transition through three distinct phases. When she first moved into her home 58 years ago, she remembers the area as a vibrant community where you could find everything you needed from food markets to a 10 cent store. She then witnessed the street experience heightened crime rates due to a stronger gang presence. Now she refers to the streets as “clean” and has seen the area turn into a once again bustling neighborhood. And no, she doesn’t want to sell. Every week she receives offers, people trying to buy her home. How could she leave her beautiful lavender home where she’s raised her kids and grandkids? With age, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with the house and the garden. Years ago, during an earthquake, the cement stairs leading to Ruth’s home broke and it’s been hard for her to get down the stairs ever since. ReBuilding Center staff and volunteers were happy to lend their skills to fill her new cement stairway.


Pat is a real firecracker. Her creative and whimsical design sensibilities show throughout her home and yard. We helped Pat with her backyard, repairing a fence that she hasn’t been able to fix because of her arthritis. Pat loves to walk and reminds us that “it’s just as important to keep your mind as active as your body when you’re older.” Pat’s lived in her house for over 42 years and can count on one hand how many long-term residents still live in her surrounding neighborhood. “Everybody’s been pushed out,” she says, “it’s strange to see how much change has happened in our neighborhood.” A perk of the new development? Pat enjoys frequenting the new restaurants popping up in her area, serving hip and affordable fare during happy hour.

Elaine & Milhouse 

Elaine & Milhouse bought their home back in 1991 and they have been wanting to touch-up their house paint for a while now. They feel like their home stands amidst the freshly re-done houses popping up next door. Within the last ten years, they say the worst part of the rapidly changing environment is the traffic on their busy street. Several parked cars have been hit. And although they’ve developed relationships with their new neighbors, Elaine says, “it doesn’t make you feel good when you don’t know your [old] neighbors anymore.” With Elaine’s full-time schedule as a care-giver, and both of them getting older, it’s hard for them to keep up with repairs. We were happy to meet some of their needs and get to know our neighbors!


Carly was the youngest of the bunch but still stood witness to the dramatic changes to the neighborhood. She says, “it’s weird, every time I even drive to the ReBuilding Center, I see new stuff. Things are popping up so fast.” She believes it’s important to keep neighborhoods diverse. She tries to see all the change as positively as she can but wishes that it didn’t mean destroying what was already there. Carly doesn’t want Portland to look like every other city. She grew up in Portland and feels like it breeds a certain kind of nutty person. With affordable housing becoming more and more scarce, she worries about our houseless populations, especially families because of how hard it would be for them to adjust. Working at Kruger Farms and doing all of her own home repairs (using almost solely materials from the ReBuilding Center), Carly’s thought about renting out her house but doesn’t have very many options to choose from. It was a pleasure to help out with a few projects that required specific skill sets, such as cementing and rerouting a drain pipe.


We also served another long term resident named ShaRee with her backyard. Twelve crew members weed-wacked and trimmed their way through a backyard jungle, yielding impressive results.

A big thank you to City of Roses Disposal & Recycling for the drop box, Metro for providing paint, brushes, and a voucher for the drop box at Metro Transfer StationOregon Deli Co. and Mississippi Pizza Pub for their generous donations to feed all the volunteers and staff, as well as Stormbreaker Brewing, who provided a nice discount for the wrap-up celebration!

The Day of Service was so successful that we would like to make it a regular event!

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Dave Lowe at dave@rebuildingcenter.org.

ReBuilding Center x AAAH: Lending a hand to Portland homeowners June 11



The ReBuilding Center has partnered with the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH) to help current or former AAAH clients who need assistance with minor home repairs. In early May, AAAH mailed out applications for the project to over 800 homeowners living within the North/Northeast corridor area of Portland and in return received multiple repair requests. The requests include projects such as tree trimming, painting a kitchen, clearing a yard, attic insulation repair, fixing a porch railing and an electrical/plumbing project.

All projects are currently being assessed by a ReBuilding Center team to ensure the right materials and skills are available to complete each task. The collaboration will be held during the Village Building Convergence on June 11th from 9am – 5pm. Fun fact: our red cob trees at the front of our building were built during one of the first Village Building Convergence events! 

Staff and volunteers will meet in the morning at the ReBuilding Center and then set out to the separate project sites. With hopes of completing all projects within the day, whatever has not been completed on the designated day of service will be completed by staff and volunteers at a later date.  

More information will be released soon for those of you who would like to participate in the AAAH Day of Service.

To lend a hand to help with these minor repairs or to learn about our varied volunteer services that range from window display design, building in our fully equipped wood shop, working with our newsletter team to working in our warehouse, please sign up to volunteer or contact ReBuilding Center Volunteer Services Manager, Dave Lowe at volunteer@rebuildingcenter.org.

Grand Opening Event: Sons of Haiti Lodge Food Carts

We were once at risk of loosing one of the last African American owned businesses on Mississippi Avenue. Fortunately,  the community banded together and saved The Sons of Haiti Lodge Food Carts! To read more about all the hard work and dedication that went into this effort click the following link:

Please join us and celebrate the grand opening of the

Sons of Haiti Lodge Food Carts
Saturday June 4th,
4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will commence at 5:15 pm. Local Ecliptic Brewing is donating beer, the carts will be showcasing some of their cuisine, and of course no party is complete without cake!

PDC Chairman, Tom Kelly, will attend and make a few comments as well as John Bryant, president of the Sons of Haiti Masonic lodge.


BBYUP Provides Paid Summer Internships for Youth!

The BBYUP Program (Boise Business Youth Employment Program) provides ten low-income, at-risk youth with paid summer internships at Boise neighborhood businesses.

The internships run for six weeks over the summer at 20 hours per week. These young people will not only earn money, but they will gain invaluable work experience to launch their future careers as well as develop a deeper connection to their neighborhood and community.

The program, which is now six years old, is a partnership between the ReBuilding Center and Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC), a non-profit education management organization that also operates the Rosemary Anderson High School for at-risk youth.

Portland OIC recruits and screens applicants as well as providing them training, supervision and mentorship through the process. Portland OIC places youth in Boise Neighborhood businesses. Youth have completed internships at a wide variety of businesses including natural medicine providers, insurance agencies, printers, restaurants, and with us at the ReBuilding Center. You can see a complete list of businesses who participate in the program at BBYUP’s website below.

To ensure that youth are successful in their jobs, Portland OIC first provides training on skills such as conflict resolution and customer service. Youth also attend a once a week lunch at the ReBuilding Center to talk with Portland business leaders on operating small businesses and achieving personal career goals.

Neighborhood businesses, including the ReBuilding Center, donate funding for BBYUP. The program also receives steady funding through proceeds from the annual Mississippi Avenue Street Fair hosted by the Historic Mississippi Business Association. Those donations fund wages and training for the youth, as well as work supplies or clothing necessary for their jobs.

If you are a business interested in donating towards this amazing program, you can find a donation form at BBYUP’s website:

If you are interested in applying for an internship, email or call Program Manager Leigh Rapport at lrappaport@portlandoic.org or 503-797-7222.  You can also download an application from their website: 

Applications are due June 10th

What will you (re)make?

Creative Reuse of Our Community

We want to share a few of the many amazing creative reuse stories from the people of our community. Below you will find five brief tales of how creative reuse ideas came to life.

Submit your own creative reuse ideas for 10% off your next purchase*. 

Vote for your favorite reuse idea below and the winner will receive a $50 gift certificate!


Desks of Doors

The new Portland team of Eugene-based tech company, Sheer ID, has a tradition of making desks out of doors, so when the company opened a new location in NW Portland, they naturally had to carry that tradition. Repurposing doors all found at Rebuilding Center, the Portland team was able to create more door desks full of character to make them feel at home in their new space.

Life-Size Lincoln Logs

A recent customer, Gary, was asked to build a play structure for his niece using pre-made plans that were purchased. Once built, Gary realized how plain the structure was and decided to repurpose some materials he found at the Rebuilding Center to give the structure a more customized look, making him a hero to his niece.


Rebuilding Center Facelift

This is one of the latest and greatest daylight basement projects of ReBuilding Center patrons, Ruth and Joe. Using 10+ antique light fixtures, 6 framed doors that matched the original doors (with hardware included), french doors, 3 louvered doors, clear vertical grain for fencing, a pedestal sink, a low-flow toilet, brass door hinges, and more, the pair was able to restore their second home with salvaged materials sourced from the ReBuilding Center warehouse.

Kitchen Table Fit for a Farm

Wendy and Joshua are owners of the Odd Man Inn Animal Refuge in Washougal, Washington, which is home to over 80 cute critters and now a new farmstyle kitchen table that Wendy created entirely from repurposed wood found at the ReBuilding Center.

Father & Son Duo

Mario and Teddy are frequent customers of the lumber yard here at the ReBuilding Center, collecting materials to create beautiful tables out of salvaged wood. Typically the duo sell their masterpieces but word has it they may be donating one of these beauts to the ReBuilding Center soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Get your votes in by July 1st, 2016 and a winner will be awarded a $50 gift certificate*!

Create your own user feedback survey

*Limited to purchases up to $50 - valid through January 2017.

Mississippi Avenue Gives Back to SEI

Mississippi Ave. Giving Day

Tuesday, May 24th

Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI) is a non profit organization supporting the needs of at-risk youth in the greater Portland area. Located just two blocks off the commercial street of Mississippi Ave. at N. Kerby, SEI partners with teachers and school administrators to identify the most at risk students to enroll in the program and to then provide those students with everything they need to achieve both personal and academic success.

On Tuesday, May 24th, 55+ businesses on Mississippi Avenue will show their support for the agency by donating 10%  of all sales to SEI. The funds donated will go towards a fundraising campaign that SEI has created called 25 for 25 Giving Campaign which aims to engage 2500 individuals in making a monthly $25 donation for the next three years to directly support SEI's youth and community development programs.

Please join us at the below locations to eat, drink and shop on Mississippi Ave and support SEI on May 24th:

  • North Portland Bike Works
  • Gumbo Gift Shop
  • Another Read Through
  • Flutter
  • Black Wagon
  • Gypsy Chic
  • Jennyfer’s Boutique
  • Sloan Boutique
  • Paxton Gate
  • Reading Frenzy
  • Mr. Green Beans
  • New Vintage Beauty Lounge
  • Sunlan Lighting
  • Salty’s Dog and Cat Shop
  • Control Voltage
  • Manifesto shoes
  • PDXchange
  • Worn Path
  • She Bop
  • Rebuilding Center
  • Optik PDX - Eyeware Boutique
  • The Herb Shoppe Pharmacy
  • Animal Traffic
  • Beacon Sound Record Store
  • Ruby Jewel Ice Cream Shop
  • Grand Central Baking
  • Oregon Deli Company
  • Radar Restaurant
  • MAC! Mac and Cheesery
  • Townshend’s Teahouse
  • Spicy Spoon
  • Por Qué No Taqueria
  • Bar Bar
  • Uchu Sushi & Fried Chicken
  • Mo-beri Smoothies
  • Mississippi Studios
  • Stormbreaker Brewery
  • Laughing Planet
  • North Light
  • Little Big Burger
  • Tiffin Asha
  • Samurai Blue
  • Spin Laundry Lounge
  • Equinox Restaurant & Lounge
  • Mississippi Pizza
  • Prost
  • Interurban
  • Stash Tea
  • Blue Sky Wellness
  • Trailhead Credit Union
  • Kurisu International
  • Mississippi Chiropractic

PPS Kids Design Their Own Guitars

May 1st - May 8th was ‪#‎STEMWeekOregon‬, a movement to raise awareness and celebrate activities that involve technology, engineering and math (STEM)!

What better way to celebrate than to open our wood shop doors to over 170+ Portland Public Schools students to build their own three-string guitars?

Over the last two weeks we have hosted two groups of middle school students from West Sylvan and Cesar Chavez, who have engaged in a hands-on learning process. With two more block classes to come, we look forward to the opportunity to show the relevance of their lesson plans in a practical way. Using sustainable materials, the students will learn about design processes that apply to everything from architecture to software development!

Portland Public Schools is teaming up with ReBuilding Center to bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) skills to over one-hundred-and-seventy seventh graders over the course of the month. Four groups of Middle School students will design and create their own three string guitar at ReBuilding Center and put new relevance to their lesson plans and put practical meaning to subjects learned in the classroom! If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please email ashley@rebuildingcenter.org.

We'd like to give big thanks to all of our volunteers, teachers, parents, staff, Black Book Guitars, WoodCrafters and Home Depot for all of your support to make this happen!

With Our Own Two Hands

We have a lot to celebrate this year. Although it did not go far enough, the Paris Agreement, within the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, was a giant step forward. For the first time ever, a clear international commitment was made to keep a significant portion of remaining hydrocarbons in the ground. Drafted in December 2015, the agreement “opens for signature” on Earth Day—April 22, 2016. 

Community members and organizations in Oregon have echoed the sentiment of the Paris Agreement by organizing to apply pressure on decision makers to move away from carbon-based fuels and toward a sustainable future. Thanks to these grassroots efforts, last month landmark victories were achieved to keep new LNG and coal projects out of Oregon.

And there’s been good news even closer to home. In February, Portland’s City Council passed a groundbreaking resolution to make deconstruction mandatory for all homes built more than 100 years ago that are scheduled for demolition (about 33% of single-family demolitions). The process of deconstruction will save millions of pounds of valuable building materials for reuse that would otherwise be put into the landfill. This new ordinance will reduce atmospheric carbon by roughly 800 tons per year while generating 20-25 new living-wage, permanent jobs. The ReBuilding Center is thankful for all who came together to vocalize your support for this resolution. Our DeConstruction Services department is excited to grow, and our store looks forward to offering more materials to the community!

These important policy developments, from the international to the local level, did not take place because politicians decided they were good things to do. They occurred because community members worked for them from the bottom up: we organized; we applied pressure; and, at long last, politicians acted. 

In the work we do and the incredible people we encounter every day at the ReBuilding Center, I am constantly reminded of the words of Desmond Tutu, painted on the front of our building: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

We invite you to join us as volunteers at the ReBuilding Center to be part of that change you want to see in the world—only together can we can create a sustainable community, environment, and economy. And so I will close with the lyrics fit for Earth Day from Ben Harper:

I can change the world
with my own two hands…
with our own
with our own two hands

or watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEnfy9qfdaU. If you haven’t heard it, it’s a great tune. Enjoy! 

Stephen Reichard
Executive Director

It’s National Volunteer Week and Earth Day is right around the corner! We’ve got a lot of volunteer opportunities for you in these next two weeks. Here is a list of volunteer opportunities to give back to the community and support environmental protection!

Table at the Fox Tower Sustainability Fair

Fox Tower is coordinating an event for eco-friendly, sustainable and local vendors. This would be a chance for you to spread awareness of the mission and goals of the ReBuilding Center to the business community in Portland and reach a wide range of people. This event will be held in the Fox Tower lobby April 21-22, Thursday and Friday; 11am-1pm.

Get exclusive tickets to events through volunteering with Wave PDX

We are excited to host some volunteers from wave this Thursday. Haven’t heard of them? They incentivize volunteerism through events where the only way to get tickets is by volunteering time in the community. Next month, Revolution Hall hosts Kurt Vile for an exclusive concert!

Glean materials from Metro Central

Work with us to visit the Metro Central Transfer station twice a week in order to keep usable building materials out of the waste stream! Twice weekly, we are organizing volunteer opportunities at the transfer station for those interested in sustainable waste management and getting a "behind the scenes" look at how we can help!

Available on Monday's and Thursdays from noon to 3pm, this project is looking for volunteers that can dedicate multiple trips in a row. Safety training and orientation on-site will be provided for your first shift. 

Spring and Summer Internships now open!

Every year, interns with ReBuilding Center take on amazing projects with our efforts to build communities with greater social and environmental vitality. If you, or someone you know, can benefit from a 3-6 month internship or a prolonged volunteer opportunity, consider working with us! Internship opportunities include: 

  • Creative ReUse Library Curator
  • Administrative Assistant Intern
  • Volunteer Coordinator Intern
  • Salvage Specialist Intern
  • Volunteer Leader

Don't see anything that interests you? Let us know! We love to create opportunities for those committed to better world. Areas of interest where we have created internships in the past: 

  • Community Health
  • Social Justice
  • DeConstruction
  • Film/Photography content management

Monthly Volunteer Event

Thursday, April 14th, 6pm - 8pm

The second Thursday of every month is our after-hours volunteer event! It’s coming up quick, so grab your spot and get together with other volunteers from around the Portland area to enjoy a night of light-hearted material salvage. There’s a happy hour at StormBreaker Brewing to follow. Volunteers receive 25% off!

Help us reign in our Tile Area!

We are looking for a dedicated volunteer to take on our ever-growing tile area. Our wonderful volunteer, Bobby, has moved on to bigger and better things and we're looking for someone to fill her shoes. Check out the video we put together highlighting Bobby and her work with us!

The work done at the ReBuilding Center is all about creating opportunities for our community to become more equitable, vibrant, and sustainable. Volunteers like you are the backbone of our mission. If you have an interest in reducing waste, engaging in your community, and making a better world, come on out and hang with us - we'd love to see you!


Employee Spotlight: Pete Heim!

Pete Heim
Volunteer Site Supervisor

Interviewed by Brendan Fitzpatrick

Employed at the Rebuilding Center 2008- Present (with some time off in between)

Pete was born in Portland and attended school nearby on Interstate and Going St. After graduating from Central Catholic High School he moved to Chicago for what was thought to be a couple year stay. That couple years turned into eighteen before he returned home. His folks owned an antique shop on Killingsworth and Michigan where he was in charge of fixing and gluing furniture. Pete was frequently here at the Rebuilding Center looking for mahogany or oak or any kind of wood pieces. He says he “was down here every day just bugging the people.” One day, Angel was working and she informed Pete that there was a job opening and he should apply because he was “here all the time anyway”. He didn’t at first, but when his folks were in the process of closing down their antique store (and Angel kept asking) he finally put in an application. Two days later Tom, the warehouse manager, called him for an interview. When Pete came down, he sat down with Tom and Angel and they all just started laughing together because they had all known each other for so long. Needless to say, the interview was brief and pretty much started and ended with a “when can you start”. 

He has a background as both a carpenter and as an antique dealer, which is also an asset as an employee because he can identify anything in the store. He has been using materials from the Rebuilding Center to build all kinds of things himself. Pete says he enjoys building a variety furniture and art projects from materials found at The Rebuilding Center. Some of his projects include book cases, dressers and big trestle tables (before everyone started doing it). He is proud of an 8 foot long table he made for his home built out of oak from cabinet doors that also has eight drawers. He has even sold a small table he made to a woman from Michigan who had it shipped to her home there. Pete says he might be bringing down a couple of art projects to show for the opening of the commons. One project he plans on bringing is a chess set that he has shown here before, and the other he describes as “just a box, but that’s all I’m gonna say. But when you see it…”

He has seen the Rebuilding Center and neighborhood grow over the years not only as an employee but also as a customer and resident. He views sustainability as a way of life and that everything can be reused. Pete reminds us that with just a little imagination you can build anything with materials found here. He likes to let the volunteers know about the fun of reuse and reminds them that the materials also have history as well. When asked if he had any words of wisdom for us today he tells us, “Be aware of where you’re at and what you’re doing because if you start paying attention to what you’re looking at you will see things that you can use”.

Meet Mélanie Duault!

Mélanie Duault, an artist from Vaureal, France, approached us last December with an interest in creating a stop-motion video for the ReBuilding Center. She spent hundreds of hours physically manipulating each shot and then compiling and editing it into a playful three minute piece on how the ReBuilding Center works. 


Mélanie went to school for photography four years which led to a photo assistant internship with her video teacher in Germany. This experience spurred a move to New York where she attended the International Center for Photography and explored her passion for food photography and color studies. Now she’s happy to be living in Portland, doing lots of freelance work and living life!

Mélanie was inspired to volunteer for the ReBuilding Center because back in New York there was a similar organization called Build It Green where she used to spend lots of time getting inspired and picking up repurposed materials for shoots. She was pleased to find us in Portland and was interested in the deconstruction element we provide – repurposing materials that would otherwise be put into the landfill. Her favorite part of the stop-animation process is writing and drawing out her ideas and then realizing the images in her head. This project started with Mélanie wandering around the ReBuilding Center warehouse with a notebook in hand, looking for interesting shapes and colors. For instance, when she found the sink you see in the end of the video, she knew that she wanted to work it into the credits as a little visual surprise. 


Color is a reoccurring theme in her work. She loves creating vibrant environments and exploring what color means to individuals and loves how different people read meaning into different colors. Mélanie was happy to find us to put materials to good use and contribute to a more sustainable environment and community. Her work will be on display on media kiosks for the Commons launch this summer. You can follow her on social media and check out some of her other colorful projects here: 

i: @maaad.ly | t: @maaad_ly | f: maaadlymelanieduault.com

We are so grateful to be a part of an organization that spurs these acts of creative kindness! 

The answer is clear...

(via: www.statesmanjournal.com)

(via: www.statesmanjournal.com)

When the people of Oregon were confronted with the choice of using coal or clean energy to power their homes, the answer was clear. In March, Oregon became the first state in history to put a ban on coal-backed electricity generation. With around 30% of state wide electricity originating from coal-fired plants today, the legislature also mandates that renewable sources are used by utilities to generate at least half of their electricity by 2040. 

(via: cascadebusnews.com)

(via: cascadebusnews.com)

Large utility companies have already begun their own phase out of coal due to the evolving preference of the consumer towards clean energy and this legislature enhances this existing trend.