Instructor Highlight: Shona

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Shona is an instructor at the ReBuilding Center. She teaches primarily Electrical and Plumbing classes, but has recently starting teaching woodworking classes as well. Learn more about Shona, her experience working in the trades, and teaching in the Education Shop!

What led you to your work in the trades? What led you to work at RBC?
I have a degree in Journalism/Natural Resources Technical Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but never could find anything other than contract or part-time work. Eventually I moved out here, and working full-time with a living wage and decent benefits drove my decision to become an electrician. I’ve never regretted it!

I had to reboot my career about ten years ago when I became allergic to concrete dust, so I transitioned from construction to maintenance. Now I work as a supervisor and my office/typing skills come in handy. I started volunteering at the ReBuilding Center as a Teaching Assistant in the Electrical for Homeowners classes in 2017, and then applied as a part-time instructor. Since then, I’ve worked with the Education Team to develop other electrical classes that we’re working into the rotation.

What was it like when you first started working here? What were your impressions?
I have been a fan of RBC for many years, but was blown away by the first staff meeting I attended. Everyone here is so engaged and I am thrilled that all types of employees have been actively involved in “big picture” decisions like developing the mission statement and recruiting a new director. RBC walks the talk! It’s great to see the support for diversity and community.

Do you have any favorite or memorable moments from the classroom?
Teaching here is so much fun. Every class has at least one “light bulb” moment when someone gets really excited about what they’re learning. Students tell us that the classes are very empowering. I love getting emails from students telling me that they’ve used what we’re teaching here to successfully tackle a project at home!

What inspires you?
People who work to make a difference every day. All of the little efforts add up to big changes.

What has been your experience with teaching Women's classes?
I have always enjoyed teaching women’s classes for different organizations. I think that women are much more likely to help each other out in group settings. If they already know how to use tools, they will usually step back and encourage someone else to take advantage of the opportunity to learn.

What do you like to do when you aren't working?
I hang out with family and friends, read a lot, and do crafty stuff. I like polymer clay, needle felting, and decorating cakes with fondant. Anything small and sculptural. 

Anything else?
If there is a class you’d like to take, please let us know! A lot of the offerings started out as suggestions from students. And if you have any tools that you’d like to donate, we’d love to have them!

DeConstruction Services Update


As of July 5, Deconstruction Services at the ReBuilding Center will close. We thank all who helped us pioneer this trade, including staff past and present—as well as supporting clients and community members.

More than 20 years ago, when our DeConstruction Services were launched, the ReBuilding Center pioneered a new way to remove buildings that was far superior to mechanical demolition—it protected neighbors from harmful dust and debris and salvaged materials for reuse, rather than sending them to the landfill.

Over the course of our operations, we deconstructed almost a million square feet on over 1,000 projects, and gave rise to an entirely new sector in the building industry. We were so successful, in fact, that the City of Portland decided that ours was the model they wanted to replicate, to make it mandatory for residential structures built before 1916 through a Deconstruction Ordinance.

We made the very difficult decision to stop doing deconstruction in part because the need for a nonprofit deconstruction firm no longer exists with so many capable for-profit firms meeting the need for deconstruction in the Portland region.  

In this sense, we have actually succeeded—we have pioneered a new method that has been so successful that others have stepped in to meet the need. Our team has done amazing work over the years, and has built our reputation as a pioneer in sustainability and reuse.

If you are seeking a deconstruction firm, we recommend viewing the City of Portland’s list of certified deconstruction contractors.

In the 20-year history of DeConstruction Services, we have:

  • Worked on 1,240 projects;

  • Deconstructed 369 whole houses;

  • Engaged in 73 whole-house guts and/or roof removals;

  • Deconstructed 30 commercial buildings and/or apartments;

  • Dismantled 20 barns of various sizes;

  • Deconstructed 260 garages (also of various sizes);

  • Dismantled 20+ sheds; and

  • Performed house skims; kitchen skims and guts; bath skims and guts; and flooring removals.

Andy and Ryan finishing work on the last deconstruction project.

Andy and Ryan finishing work on the last deconstruction project.

DeConstructing Walls and Barriers

By: Claire Schilperoort (Salvage Specialist)

Ella Rose with Workshop Participants

Ella Rose with Workshop Participants

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of joining Andy (DeConstructionist) in representing the ReBuilding Center at the annual Oregon Tradeswomen’s Career Fair, hosted at NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center. Mayela (Salvage Specialist) and Ella Rose (Salvage Specialist) attended on Friday to demonstrate making planter boxes and coat racks with reclaimed materials (and using of a lot of wooden cabinet knobs)!

Andy and I arrived on Saturday morning and navigated parking to unload the marvelous temporary wall Andy constructed for our deconstruction demonstration. We set up our table, overflowing in terrific handouts about RBC— education class information, business cards, bumper stickers, and job applications—then grabbed some muffins and coffee at the food station, and were ready to go.

Mind you, we were in a back demonstration room, hallways past hallways, away from the main party, and a little hidden. Worried about not getting enough foot traffic our way, Andy made some beautiful signs to hang throughout the building, and I set up our “deconstruct a wall!” sign on a stool in the hallway, and we waited.

Things were slow at first. I’d eaten all my muffins, our coffee was cold, and aside from a few heads peaking in the door, our wall was lonely and untouched. But low and behold, a group of 5 or 6 young ladies came through the door, and the pace of the day was changed forever. Their enthusiasm and vibrancy about learning and getting their hands on materials was extremely refreshing. Some were shyer than others, but even they grabbed hammers, put on those safety glasses, and patiently listened to Andy’s instruction. I thought we’d take some trim off and maybe talk about reuse, but these girls ended up deconstructing the entire wall, from light fixture to studs!

Andy posing with the DeConstruction Wall

Andy posing with the DeConstruction Wall

From then on, we had a pretty steady procession of interested people trickle in—people of all ages and education levels. A five-year-old with our giant gloves on, safety glasses falling off her little face, found comfort with the drill driver and took every panel off one side of the wall. Others had already received some degree of formal education in electrical/construction/etc. and were more curious about who RBC is and what we do. We explained our mission, the different departments of RBC, and how they all exist together to make things flow. We told many interested people about the classes we offer, volunteer opportunities, and handed out every single job application!

Several young ladies we met had never held a drill before, let alone an impact driver. They were hesitant, posturing as if the wall would explode when they pulled the trigger, and stripped a couple screws a little, but once they realized they were in control, how to hold it, pressure needed, how angles mattered, etc., there was no stopping them.

Andy and I took a couple turns walking around the facility while the other led demos, exploring the more than 70 exhibitors and 40 hands-on workshops. So many opportunities and happy, ambitious people sharing their knowledge and answering questions!

It's Good in the Hood!

The Good in the Hood Music and Food festival is the largest multi-cultural festival in the region. Each year, the festivals opens with a community parade that travels through Northeast Portland. With a focus on community building and multicultural engagement, the Good in the Hood festival allows Portland residents to connect with each other through food and music, inspiring unity throughout the community.

Year after year, ReBuilding Center has a blast on our float in the parade - waving to our friends and neighbors, jammin’ to the musical accompaniment of Ural Thomas and the Pain, and experiencing the strong community that Good in the Hood emphasizes.


Looking Back: 2018 Year in Review

ReBuilders accomplished so much in 2018! Below, you can see a snapshot of some of these accomplishments. From deconstructing over 30,000 square feet to teaching over 180 classes to selling materials to 54,000 members of the community, the ReBuilding Center is proud to be a part of the Portland reuse community. Thank you for your ongoing support, for being a part of the ReBuilding Center community, and for making a material difference! 

From Student to Successful DIY-er

Joanna and her friend, Piper, recently took our DIY Plumbing Repairs + Replacements class, and within a few weeks of the class, her toilet broke! Fortunately enough, they were able to practice their newly learned skills.

Joanna recapped their experience repairing the toilet to us. As with many repairs, there are always some hurdles. The first hurdle they faced was mismatched rough-ins. The new toilet had a 12-inch rough-in, but because the repair was happening in an older home, the outlet was a little bit further away from the wall with a 14-inch rough-in.

Side note: the toilet rough-in is the distance from the wall behind the toilet to the center of the toilet’s outlet pipe.

The second hurdle was removing a metal support rod that went from the very old toilet into the floor. They had to remove the rod and then saw off some of the remnants because the new toilet would not fit over it. Joanna concluded, “All in all it was a very empowering experience and we remembered all the good tips we learned in class.”

Check out the process photos below. Thanks for sharing your story, Joanne!

Accomplishments like these are just what we hope for at the ReBuilding Center! We love hearing students’ stories and encourage you to share them with us anytime at

Our DIY Plumbing Repairs + Replacements class is offered at least once a month (both regular and Women’s Only). Students learn how to not only do what Joanne and Piper did, but to also repair leaky faucets, running toilets, cracked fixtures, dripping drains, etc. Additionally, the Portland Water Bureau generously provides water-saving kids for each student! Check out our education page to learn more.


By: Alex Rhodes (ReBuilding Center Salvage Specialist)

“Green”—a word I have been grappling with and redefining for years, it seems. Most commonly thought of as a color…the color of so many beautiful plants and landscapes, but especially known in our society as the color of money. What I’ve found is that “green” is a catch-all buzzword for the movement for changing consciousness towards the environment, particularly where it relates to the economy. It is purposefully vague and has caught on in many types of industries such as small businesses, construction, technology, education, energy, and even agriculture. If you’re a company or nonprofit in one of these industries, there are a variety of incentives to market yourself as “Green.”

But what does it mean for a job to be Green? Well, let’s take for example our organization, the ReBuilding Center. We are striving to give our staff living wages, strong benefits, and a socially progressive culture in our workplace. We are strongly tied to the construction industry while being leaders in environmentally conscious practices with our deconstructions services as well as our store, both which promote the idea of Reuse. In other words, we bring social, economic, and environmental justice into our way of operating. All of this makes us the textbook example of an organization that is Green. 

The Green Workforce Collaborative (GWC) seeks to guide the most historically marginalized young adults in Black and Native communities of the Portland area into stable, decent-paying jobs. Currently, these good jobs are overwhelmingly Green jobs. As you may be aware, Black and Native people have been oppressed for way too long and we need to reverse the trend. There are traumas, lack of a positive network, and scarcity of intergenerational wealth that disproportionately follows all of us whether we like it or not.

How the GWC plans to do this is by raising environmental awareness, a skill many employers say potential employees lack. During a five-week long program that utilizes the nationally-accredited Roots of Success Curriculum (piloted in 2018), the “Green Workforce Academy” provides a down-to-earth understanding of the environmental issues that affect us all.  To bring the subject closer to home, we spend half of the program going out and meeting with potential employers to engage in hands-on events. The job doesn’t end there.  We serve as mentors as graduates transition into their new careers and provide them with references and guidance.  


As a young adult from a diverse, low-income background who has taken the unbeaten path of studying the issues around the environment, working at a Green job such as with the ReBuilding Center, I have never been so certain of the direction I’m headed. Understanding the bigger picture of how the environment affects us has played a central role in changing my life. I can already see it starting to change my peers participating in the Green Workforce Academy program. Participating in this project has been deeply fulfilling, and I foresee the Green Workforce Collaborative having the potential to be a model in job creation moving forward as the Green wave rolling over our country brings about an economy that reflects the realities of our environment.

Community Opportunities

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

Upcoming Repair Fairs

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

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

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

Repair Fair @ Cedar Mill Library | February 2nd

NECN Community Grants

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

Portland YouthBuilders

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

GLEAN Art Program

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

Youth Environmental Job Fair

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

DeConstruction Highlight: Living Cully

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

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

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

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

The Impact of a Door

The ReBuilding Center welcomes requests for donations of used building and remodeling materials from grassroots projects and organizations that are inclusive and directly benefit the local community. One of these organizations, Community of Hope, located in North Portland, serves homeless, single-parent families. They provide shelter, classes, mentoring, and community life for 4-6 months while families heal from past trauma, build skills, and find stable jobs and homes. We recently caught up with Linda Jo, Community of Hope’s Program Director, to find out how a small donation has made a material difference at Community of Hope.

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

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

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

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

Bay Area Salvage

 By: Chris Larsen (ReBuilding Center Process Improvement Coordinator) 

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

This and That Building Materials

  • For Profit

  • Founded: 1997

  • San Pablo

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

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

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Urban Ore

  • For Profit 

  • Founded: 1980

  • Berkeley 

Mission- “To end the age of waste”       

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

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

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Ohmega Salvage

  • For Profit

  • Founded: 1974

  • Berkeley

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

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


Building Resources

  • Non-profit

  • Founded: 1994

  • San Francisco

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

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

Building Resources.png

The ReUse People

  • Non-profit

  • Founded: 1993

  • Oakland

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

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

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

By: Andrey Bodnar

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It all started off with the train being in the way. It was a Saturday and I was excited get to work for a special assignment, so I left my car at New Seasons and looked for Alison in front of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s new location.

Our mission was to pick up a donation check from OnPoint Community Credit Union, because they selected the ReBuilding Center to honor us as part of their Grand Opening celebration on Fremont and North Williams.

We talked with the OnPoint Community Credit Union team members and they told us about their work, and about how proud they are to work there because of all they do for the community. We shared about our work at the ReBuilding Center and what we do, from helping with houseless villages to Girls Build to our Day of Service. We also talked about all the building materials that flow through the ReBuilding Center and get diverted from the waste stream.  

There was even a face painter there… Alison and I talked about it and decided: “Sure, let’s do it.” So, we got our faces painted!  

After that, we went inside, and they presented us with the $1,000 check and took our pictures. We talked about the possibility of their staff coming here to volunteer, and I shared the idea that maybe some of our people to get a behind-the-scenes look at the banking world!  

Afterward, Alison and I walked back to the ReBuilding Center to put the check in the office for safe keeping until Monday.

Engaging with different businesses in the neighborhood is important, because the more connections we make, the better. Sure, this kind of outreach helps with fundraising, but more importantly it brings us together. The more we all know about each other’s organizations, the more we can accomplish together.

They were an amazing team, who clearly loved working there and it felt good being around. For the rest of the day I walked around with a dragon on my face!


Creating Meaning with Materials

By: Alexandra Ferrara

In an effort to realize our mission of making a material difference, the ReBuilding Center donates reclaimed building materials to like-minded local organizations and projects. You can learn more about that here. One of these projects includes Agape Village, a village for the houseless in Southeast Portland.


On a dreary afternoon, I hop into our newly wrapped box truck with Alberto at the wheel. We spot Jon in the big truck just up the road on North Mississippi Avenue, ready to lead the way. In our trucks we are carrying wooden and metal cabinets, reclaimed lath and lumber, and about half a dozen TriMet bus stop roofs.

As we inch slowly east on I-84 with rain splashing on the windshield, I cannot help but feel incredibly grateful for my job and the opportunities to witness the ways in which materials can have such a large impact in our community. Our store on North Mississippi Avenue is a magical place to be, but I find it just as special to follow the materials from the store to their new homes away from the ReBuilding Center.

Agape Village was born through the efforts of Central Church of the Nazarene and their houseless neighbors. The village resides along a hillside adjacent to the church. As Alberto turns the corner of the parking lot, we make our way up the hill to a breathtaking view of the autumn trees over I-205. As our eyes shift up the hillside to the village, we marvel in its innovation. There are all different types of homes, made from all sorts of materials. Alberto “wows” at a semi truck trailer converted into a tiny home—it is clear that creativity and resourcefulness found their place at this village.

In true Portland fashion, the rain does not put a damper on anyone’s spirits or motivation to get a job done. We meet up with an Agape Village volunteer and resident in the newest cluster of homes currently being built. They start unloading materials with the help of Jon and Alberto, while I have the easy task of snapping some photos.

As I look back at these photos, I see the power in our community’s ability to create meaning with materials. I hope you see the same. To learn more about Agape Village and how you can get involved in the community project, click here.  

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

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!

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

Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church

The Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Northeast 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

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Nutz-n-Boltz was founded in 2004 by three individuals who were frustrated by the lack of quality community theater and took it upon themselves to raise the bar with a theater they built from scratch. Their name comes from the idea of building something from the ground up and creating theater as art for art’s sake. For thirteen years, they’ve been performing plays 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,” said Justin Lazenby, co-founder and co-owner of Nutz-n-Boltz. He explained, “We’ve done this by reusing everything we can possibly reuse.”

Every year, Nutz-n-Boltz puts on about four to five performances, and each one requires a set to be custom-built for the production. Over the course of a year, the same space may pay host to a Netherlands country home, a Victorian sitting room, a farm house kitchen, or even an entire set made out of 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 the setting of the show.” If the ReBuilding Center didn’t make these items available and affordable, Justin says, “they would probably be in a landfill or deteriorating in the weather in someone’s backyard.”

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.

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

June 2017 Volunteer Opportunities

Join the ReBuilding Center in the second annual Day of Service, meet other Portlanders and enjoy a discounted happy hour during our Building Community Through Reuse social night, help build a ReBuilding Center theme park for the Alberta Last Thursday, or prep for ReFind Adult Education classes! 

Day of Service


Every year the ReBuilding Center joins with the African American Alliance for Homeownership to bring the community an annual Day of Service, offering minor repairs to 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. In 2016, volunteers proudly completed 10 projects on 5 different properties, tackling a wide range of issues:

  • 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

This year the ReBuilding Center plans to take on similar projects with double the number of homes! This is an excellent opportunity for volunteers who would like to learn DIY skills or those with prior building experience who would like to apply their expertise to a greater cause. If you are interested in joining our team to build a healthier more vibrant community please pre-register now to be placed on our list to receive further information, pick preferred projects as they become available, and be considered for a position as one of our Crew Leaders.

To sign up, fill out this form >


SECOND THURSDAY of every month
6PM - 8PM

The ReBuilding Center invites you to join us for an evening of socializing and de-nailing on the second Thursday of each month from 6pm to 8pm. No need to be registered as one of our existing volunteers, this monthly event is open to the public. Get some rewarding hands-on experience while keeping usable building materials from making their way into landfills and waste streams. Meet and socialize with like-minded individuals! If you are looking for a great way to expand your friend base here in the Portland community then this monthly mixer is for you! After the de-nailing has concluded, regroup with your fellow volunteers accross the street at Stormbreaker Brewing and enjoy an additional 25% off for your contribution. 

To sign up, please RSVP with David Lowe, our Volunteer Services Manager:



Work with us to build “ReBuilding Center Road,” a 90’ x 10’ attraction that will highlight salvaged building materials in fun and creative ways during the Alberta Street Last Thursday (June-August). Help repair our trade show booths and help make them mobile/transportable, plus brainstorm building projects that will enhance the Last-Thursday-goers' experience.

We need volunteers to help create structures, games, and other interactive activities with used building materials. Some carpentry know-how is helpful, but not required. We will supply all needed tools, materials, safety equipment, and guidance.

If you would like to get your hands on this incredible opportunity, email with the subject line "ReBuilding Center Road." Please tell a little about your building, repair and design experience, as well as why you are interested in joining our team. 



The ReBuilding Center is looking for help in our Refind Education shop getting tools and material ready in preparation for upcoming youth and adult classes. 

To sign up, email the ReFind Education Coordinator, Aaron Green at:

For more information on any of the volunteer opportunities listed above or to check out other ways you can help build community through reuse follow these links:



Education & Inspiration at the 25th Annual WOMEN IN TRADES CAREER FAIR


On Friday, May 19th, over 1,000 middle- and high-school-aged girls from around Oregon and Washington participated in Oregon Tradeswomen's 25th annual Women in Trades Career Fair - School Day. By 7:30am that morning, the place was already buzzing with excitement and the students hadn't even arrived yet. The fair brought together professional tradeswomen from every trade you could think of.  There were fire engines and ladder trucks to climb, giant logs to chainsaw, bucket trucks to ride in, tiny houses to build, water mains to repair, lights to wire and so many more awesome activities to engage this gigantic curious group. 


This year, the ReBuilding Center presented a workshop led by the ReBuilding Center’s own head cashier, Ella Rose, Salvage Specialist, Mayela, and DeConstructionist, Becca. Tables full of brave, bright, and inquisitive girls were led though the construction of mini-planter boxes which they were able to take home. Students learned all about what the ReBuilding Center does, and of course what it means to be a "DeConstructionist". The most incredible moments came when the girls' faces lit up with the confidence of a newly gained skill, and the proud smile that comes with the completion of a project.

Girls working together, encouraging one another, and having a blast using power tools was so much fun, even a couple of teachers jumped into the mix and used these tools for the first time as well. All in all, the day was a total success. There were hardly any supplies left over after a nearly-constant stream of girls walked away with their newly built planter boxes. It was an incredible display of women empowering other women and girls. Watch for this event again next year. 

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