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.

Welcoming Jackie Kirouac-Fram as New Executive Director

After a four-month search, led by a team of ReBuilding Center staff and board members, we are excited to announce Jaclyn Kirouac-Fram as our new Executive Director. Jackie follows the ReBuilding Center’s Acting Executive Director, Kelly Stevens, who will remain on staff, and Interim Executive Director, Alison Dennis, who left the organization in November to pursue a new challenge as Executive Director of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, Oregon.
2018 was a year of leadership transition for the ReBuilding Center, but we built on our strengths and continued to work on objectives set during strategic planning. The ReBuilding Center anticipates that Jackie will leverage these strengths to help our organization continue to make a material difference in the Portland community and beyond.
"We were very intentional in looking for candidates who had a history of collaborative leadership and whose values around sustainability and equity aligned with ours,” said Vio Rubiani, the ReBuilding Center Board Chair. “From the get-go, and throughout the process, Jackie's experience, empathy, and commitment to our mission and vision really shone through. We are very lucky to have her and are looking forward to working with her for many years to come."

Jackie is joining us following her role as Vice President at FOCUS St. Louis. FOCUS is a nonprofit whose mission is to educate future civic leaders through six civic leadership programs. Jackie brings her collaborative work style and experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, leading and developing relationships with diverse teams, building programs and partnerships, and turning strategic plans into action—not to mention a deep passion for strengthening communities! This unique blend of experience will help us continue our evolution/growth and increase our impact for the people, communities, and environment we serve.


From Jackie: "I'm excited to start working with the fantastic team at RBC to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of our community and amplify our voice as leaders in sustainability and community well-being. We are going to do great things together!"
Jackie will start her role of Executive Director in early March, getting to know Portland, the ReBuilding Center, our key partners, and you! Come on by and introduce yourself and help us give her a warm welcome.

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! 

Give!Guide Announcement

Dear Friends, Neighbors, Family, and ReBuilders:

The ReBuilding Center has once again been selected to be a part of the Willamette Week's Give!Guide, a local effort that aims to highlight and support amazing Portland nonprofits by leveraging year-end giving.

How does it work?
Give HERE to the ReBuilding Center between now and December 31. Donations of $100 or more are matched 1:1 by our business partners, ¿Por Qué No? Taquería and Mississippi Pizza!

You will also be entered to win gift certificates to spend at the ReBuilding Center, either to attend a DIY class or to shop at our Store. And, if you're 35 or younger, you get a free pint from StormBreaker Brewing!

But wait, there's more!
If you donate on Big Give Days, you'll be entered to win HUUUGE Give!Guide-sponsored prizes like finger-licking ice-cream parties, luxurious shopping expeditions, spectacular getaways, VIP entertainment packages, and much more! 

Are you in?
Every dollar you donate from now until December 31 will help the ReBuilding Center keep tons of materials (literally!) out of the waste stream and in community hands; offer more and more relevant classes to makers, creators, and homeowners; support the building of more tiny houses for our houseless neighbors; continue creating pathways to green jobs for folks who have been excluded from making a living in the trades; and so much more. 

We thank you in advance for your ongoing support; without it, we couldn't do what we do every day. 

P.S. The ReBuilding Center is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization,
so all of your donations are tax deductible.

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ReBuilding Center in the Media

KBOO Interview

Earlier this summer, ReBuilding Center Salvage Specialist, Mayela Alvarado, spoke with Luna Flores on KBOO Radio. Mayela’s passion for the ReBuilding Center is infectious and although we may be a little biased, listening to her spotlight on the ReBuilding Center is incredibly captivating! You can listen to Mayela’s Interview, starting at -39.20, here.



Visionkeepers TV Series

Towards the beginning of this year, the ReBuilding Center was featured on the Reclaiming and Rebuilding episode of VisionKeepers. The Visionkeepers TV Series documents individuals and organizations across the United States that work with their communities to embrace the possibilities of sustainable living. We are proud to be featured in this episode, alongside other impactful organizations! You can watch the episode here.


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!

Jami and Kourosh Remodel

This summer Jami and Kourosh Poumad completed a 4,300-square-foot home restoration using as many recycled materials as they could.    They wrote and complimented the staff of the ReBuilding Center for helping them select the following, all of which were used in the remodel.

Kitchen Cabinets
Corian kitchen counter and sink
24 exterior windows
3 entry doors
11 interior door knobs
4 bathroom showers, sinks and hardware
9 Cast iron radiators
Stair railing

21 indoor light fixtures
All deck straps
20 bags of insulation






Jami and Kourosh kindly responded to questions we had that explained in detail their experience and reasons for using recycled materials from the ReBuilding Center:

Is this the first time you have used recycled items in your home?

This is not the first time. Whenever we have a repair or change at home the ReBuilding Center/recycled materials are our first choice.


For items that had to be “built-in," like the kitchen cabinets and countertops, the 24 exterior windows, and the stair railing, did you have any problem getting them to fit? Or did you have to modify them in some way?  

Yes. The windows all had to be re–framed and one of the kitchen cabinets was converted to a sink module since the "set" didn’t include it.  We also installed a kick plate at the base.  The Corian counter was too long and had to be cut at one end. The stair railing had to be re-drilled and the old holes had to be filled in with wood putty, then re-stained.  (The metal rails were new, not recycled)

Why do you use recycled materials?

Lower cost and we like to bring products and materials “back to life.”

Have you used sources other than the ReBuilding Center to obtain/purchase items?

Yes—Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Cedar Hills and Forest Grove; Goodwill; and Craigslist.

Do you have a philosophy that supports your use of recycled building materials?

Considering a great deal of effort and expertise goes into manufacturing a walnut door or a leaded glass window, it’s a shame to send a craftperson’s work to a landfill.  We find that often a recycled item is just as good as or better than new [materials] and is less expensive.  Those savings are passed onto our family and employees, it puts a whole new spin on recycling!

What other things have you purchased from the ReBuilding Center? 

1 heavy duty outdoor door and 1 French door for our business
We re-purposed an alabaster hanging bell lamp to a soft table lamp
We installed 3 – 6’x1’ windows in our daylight studio
Insulation for the studio
16 cast iron radiators for our home
Roofing material for our home
A double stove for our home

Of all your purchases of recycled items, which do you like the most?
We like the windows used on the front deck in place of iron balusters.  It saved us a lot of money in place of using many balusters.  And it gives the home a charming artistic flair without being over the top.  

High School Students Power Tiny Homes for the Houseless

High school students from Catlin Gabel are powering tiny homes for the houseless with a project they call “The Juice Box Project!” Check out this 3-minute video and hear from the residents about how this system is helping them get back on their feet!

An innovative solution to off-the-grid communities like Hazelnut Grove, these eco-friendly boxes provide solar powered energy to juice light and electricity, which “allows residents to become more independent, productive and engaged in their communities!” Help The Juice Box Project win this year’s Lexus Eco Challenge by sharing this post! The ReBuilding Center is a proud partner in this initiative.

What Is Juice Box?

Juice Box is an efficient and sustainable way to provide electricity for off-the-grid, portable pods for previously homeless people.

  • The shelter "pods" are equipped with 100W solar panels that deliver power to the Juice Box, mounted inside. 
  • The power of the sun is harnessed to charge an 18 AH 12V battery. Batteries are recycled from FIRST Robotics teams.
  • This power can then be used to power devices that plug into a wall outlet  (120V AC, 300W max) or 12V DC automotive accessory socket.
  • The battery also powers a bright LED light bar mounted on the front of the Juice Box, perfect for illuminating rooms at night, and extending the day of the user.


PORTLAND, OR. (February 3, 2017) — Local start-up MudBone Grown, LLC (MBG) and its partner programs GroundUp Organics, Green A&T have launched a culturally/ethnically-specific urban food systems project at the Oregon Food Bank’s 33rd Ave. Farm. MudBone owners Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers are NE Portland natives that made the leap to small farm agriculture early last year.

“We are very excited about our collaboration with Christine Hadekel Outreach Manager with Oregon Food Bank for the opportunity to launch our social enterprise-based start-up farm”, said Johnson, (founder, certified community health worker, doula, and now urban farmer).  Arthur, (co-founder, construction “jack-of-all-trades”and professional leathersmith) and I have been dreaming about this for years and we were not sure how things were going to turn out after we left the BUFA (Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship) program last summer.”

“This is a game changer,” says Shavers. “This assistance saves us more than $10,000 of start-up costs that usually keep many people interested in this kind of work, from being able to launch their dream of farming .

With the help from ReBuilding Center’s Community Outreach manager Edward Hill, who happens to have a background in urban farming, Shantae and Arthur in less than 60 days, were able to  finish writing a business plan, establish land agreements, and create a farm plan that supported a formal partnership with the Oregon Food Bank on nearly an acre of fully equipped land in NE Portland.

“We are so excited to have Edward and ReBuilding Center on board, their assistance has been instrumental in getting us past many of the barriers we were experiencing to getting an actual farm site in the City and large enough to create sustainable cooperative revenue.”

Additionally, education contracts with Black Parents Initiative (BPI), purchasing agreement with KAIROS School and local Food Prescription programs, and watershed enhancement funding, MudBone Grown is leading an environmental and community economic stewardship coalition that is modeled on national programs like Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI and Detroit Black Farmers in Michigan.

“Farmers, by nature, are innovative problem solvers,” said Shavers, who will lead the crop planning for the team. “We can be most effective by working toward solutions in a collaborative manner with other community groups who have been trying to leverage for a position regionally.”

MudBone Grown, formed as a LLC, focusing on promoting inter-generational community-rooted farming methods that create “measurable and sustainable environmental, social, cultural, and economic improvements.” MudBone will also be providing STEM/STEAM-based education, workshops, and outreach through things like on-farm demonstrations, hands-on engagement with local schools, and adult jobs training services for both interested small farmers and the general public.

Johnson is thrilled at the pace of success this year already; “Our community partners recognize that local agriculture is critical to healthy lives and a strong economy for communities that have historically had marginal participation in the local food economy.”

Donation Strengthens ReFind Education & Class Offerings

Dawn St. Clair, Rick Pogue and Stan Pulliam with Heffernan Insurance dropped by the ReBuilding Center last week to present the ReBuilding Center with a check for $3,000 to support ReBuilding Center’s ReFind Education Program, which provides hands-on educational classes for adults and kids on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials.

This important donation will help support our ReFind Education program by supplying our shop with much needed equipment such as chop saws, nail guns, band saws and other various hand tools which will strengthen our capacity to bring hands-on learning opportunities to 7th graders and basic carpentry and DIY classes to adults!

“The support couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Dave Lowe, Volunteer Services Manager, “we need new equipment and replacement parts and are so grateful for Heffernan’s support!” ReFind Education offers a three-day class entitled “Three Stringed Theory,” through Portland Public Schools’ 7th Grade Maker Experience. Students from Beverly Cleary Middle School were building three string guitars when Heffernan’s associates came to present their check. 

Thank you, Heffernan!

Aaron Green, Woodworker: Making Old Things New Again

Aaron Green’s woodworking business is called “The Regrainery,” which references the craft of finding elegance in aged and used woods. The Regrainery breathes new life and purpose into these aged materials through creative design and inspired innovation.  Aaron finds the used lumber at salvage stores like the ReBuilding Center. He notes what the wood was once used for: flooring from a torn down house, siding from an old barn, rafter beams from the early 1900’s, etc.  He then planes and shapes the wood to fit into new designs he has created for furniture, shelving, and even jewelry.  These newly crafted products are then sold to local customers, on view at street festivals, and at trade shows. One can see the symbiotic relationship between craft persons like Aaron and the resources of the ReBuilding Center. We sat down to chat with Aaron about his practice, thoughts on sustainability, and revealing the hidden beauty in reclaimed materials. See the interview below.

How did you come up with the title of your business: The Regrainery?

The name “The Regrainery” didn’t come to me right away but was the product of several weeks of brainstorming with my wife and friends. I wanted a name that could represent my business goals, that would reveal what we were about as a business without being a dead give-away, and that had an appealing ring to it. I settled on The Regrainery because I felt it implied a sense of industriousness, it held the prefix “re” (which would allude to our sustainability and creative-reuse values), and because it sounded compelling.

Why do you use old, recycled materials in the products you create? Sustainability? Aesthetics? Cost?

I use old, recycled materials for a few reasons. First, I love how reclaimed woodworking looks when it is finished. When you get a chance, check out what the guys at Stumptown Reclaimed make. They are reclaimed masters! Also, with only a few woody exceptions, I think working with reclaimed wood ends up looking better than new wood (but that’s just me!). Second, a personal value of mine is restoration, and my work allows me to literally take old wood and make it into something new again. I love planing away old, rough surfaces to reveal the beauty hidden beneath decades of dirt and weathering. Third, I believe in sustainable building practices, and since wood can last for centuries, I see no reason to buy new stock if your neighborhood reclaimed or salvage store can sell you the same thing (and at a better price!).

Do you have a philosophy related to your use of recycled versus new materials?

Absolutely. The Regrainery began as a philosophy before it became something practical. It stemmed from my belief that the run-down, the weathered, and the broken can be restored. I believe almost anything (e.g. people, gardens, communities, and wood) can be made new. I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. So, by using recycled and salvaged materials in my work, I get to practically explore a very rewarding process that I don’t think new materials can offer.

"I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. "     -Aaron Green, The Regrainery

"I also believe that when a little work is put in, genuine beauty has a chance to be revealed. "

-Aaron Green, The Regrainery

Did you have any woodworking experience before creating your business?

My Dad made much of my family’s furniture while I was growing up, so I had many opportunities to watch and learn from him. Outside of him, however, I’ve just built as a hobbyist.

Do you have a workshop where you build your products?

Yes, I work out of a garage space that I rent from a neighbor in the NE Alberta area.

How/where do you find customers?

Initially my customers came from friends and friends of friends, but eventually I expanded to a retail pop-up shop (street fairs mostly) model. Last summer I was at nearly every street fair in Portland and had the opportunity to sell directly to customers as well as acquire leads on commissions.

Do you sell any of your products through shops or stores?

Just my online shop!

Do you sell you products at street fairs?

Yes, beginning in 2016 I sold at over a dozen street fairs around Portland. Keep an eye out for us this Spring and Summer at your local street fairs! I’ll be partnering with other small business too, including a painter and a leather worker!

Do you collect materials before you know what you’re going to use them for? Or do you have a design in mind and select materials to fit the design?

Generally, I don’t. As much as I’d love to buy every last stick of old-growth at the ReBuilding Center, my garage space and budget always have the last word. Instead, I buy my wood after having drawn up a design for commissions.

Do you ever wonder about the previous life of the materials you use?

All the time. But, I usually don’t have access to that information. One day I plan to implement the stories of my materials on my website. Personally, I think knowing where something came from, or who may have owned it or used it, adds huge value to the material.

Do you have any employees?

While I have hired friends and my brother to help me with street fairs, I am the sole designer and builder and business guy behind the operation.

Have you gotten any materials from the ReBuilding Center? What kinds?

Yes! I source around 85% of my materials from the ReBuilding Center. I have bought everything from ship-lap, flooring, rafters, ply-wood, doweling, hand-railing, and once even a 19’ glu-lam beam at the ReBuilding Center.

How did you hear about the ReBuilding Center?

I used to live near N Haight & N Mason, so the Mississippi business district was typically my haunt. When I got into woodworking, even as a hobbyist, I found the ReBuilding Center because I happened to walk by. What a wonderful find! 

Lean PDX Helps Streamline the RBC Shopping Experience

A streamlining process to improve the shopping experience at the ReBuilding Center (RBC) started with a band of “secret shoppers" made up of five Lean Portland volunteers and five RBC employees. The RBC Executive Director, Stephen Reichard, and Manager, Tom Patzkowski, were working the floor so the staff could work to improve the organization.  The “secret shoppers” were tasked to find materials for typical DIY projects, like building a dog house or replacing an exterior door. This allowed the staff and volunteers to gain a first-hand experience at what it is like to be a customer. 

The second workshop explored long term goals, identifying projects where Lean could consult with the RBC through 2017.  They also designed an experiment to improve customers’ first time shopping experience.  They promptly responded to the things they discovered in their studies and made a mockup kiosk with signage that identifies and explanes how to navigate the warehouses and make a purchases.

They summarized the results:

It was a lot of fun, and we saw about half the people pause and read the sign – some even taking tape measures (a key tool) with them as they went to go shopping. It was a great example of getting real-time feedback on something, without spending a lot of time planning to make it perfect. Our follow-up was that the team decided to continue to get feedback on the kiosk, and possibly create two additional kiosks for the additional entrances.

The next step over the next few months will be to identify opportunities for improving RBC donation and checkout processes. For the long term they would like to develop plans to increase capacity of the center while creating a more satisfying environment for their employees and their guests.

Oh, What A Year!

What a year! February 2016 seems like eons ago—when Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve the nation’s first ordinance mandating the deconstruction of all homes scheduled for demolition built prior to 1917. (These homes represent about 33% of single-family home demolitions.) You can watch the Council debate here; it starts around minute 70 and includes testimony from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s (BPS) Shawn Wood (1:19) and yours truly, Stephen Reichard, the ReBuilding Center's director (1:37). 

Flyer created for event

Flyer created for event

This landmark resolution will create jobs, increase safety related to lead and asbestos materials, and divert 4,000 tons of building materials annually for reuse. This is a crucial and pioneering first step, and we will work hard in 2017 to adapt to the growth of the deconstruction sector and drive further progress.


February also saw the dedication of the Sons of Haiti’s new food cart lot just to the south of the ReBuilding Center (RBC). A true community-wide partnership, dozens of supporters from across the neighborhood donated nearly $11,000, which was matched by $40,000 from the Portland Development Commission, in the effort to rebuild the lot to bring it into compliance with city code. This rebuilding effort established a significant revenue source for one of the last remaining Black-owned enterprises on Mississippi Avenue.

In March there was the Building Materials Reuse Association’s (BMRA) bi-annual gathering in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fresh off our legislative victory in Portland, the ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction Services Manager, Doug Lichter; BPS’s Shawn Wood; and Metro’s Bryce Jacobsen told the story of the four-year effort to enshrine deconstruction as the preferred method over demolition. A local group of deconstruction industry representatives has submitted a proposal to host the fall 2017 BMRA DeCon Conference in Portland—the new epicenter of deconstruction.

Remember York? A one-man play about the first African American to the Pacific Northwest?  We co-produced this play with the Native American Youth and Family Association before an audience of 500 at Jefferson High School Auditorium in early March. 

Elaine & Milhouse pose in front of their house getting a fresh new paint job

Elaine & Milhouse pose in front of their house getting a fresh new paint job

More coalition building followed in the spring as the RBC’s Volunteer Services partnered with the African American Alliance for Home Ownership to establish a new tradition—Day of Service. More than 35 volunteers conducted much needed repairs on five homes in Portland’s North/Northeast Corridor for homeowners at risk of losing their homes. 

7th grade class posing with their new 3-string instruments

7th grade class posing with their new 3-string instruments

Flyer for adult education classes taking place in the RBC workshop

Flyer for adult education classes taking place in the RBC workshop

With the time, energy, and vision of more than a dozen volunteers, in 2016 our ReFind Center was reborn as the Education Program, offering classes and much, much more in the ReBuilding Center’s fully equipped workshop. In 2016, 402 Portland Public School seventh-grade students came to learn about the physics of sound while designing and building their own three-stringed instruments, documented here in Three-Stringed Theory. Additionally, the Education Program offered 14 adult classes on how to safely and creatively work with used building materials. Over 70 participants enrolled in hands-on topics such as “Basic Carpentry for Women” and “Build and Play a Cajon (Peruvian Box Drum).” 

The Village Coalition, a network of urban villages and their allies representing Portland Metro’s houseless community, got its start at the ReBuilding Center in March. We hosted 25 meetings fueled by generous food donations from Mississippi Pizza. When the Village Coalition meetings recently grew beyond the size of the RBC’s conference room with the involvement of many village residents and allies, we facilitated a move to the Albina Youth Opportunity School

Loki with her tiny house built in the RBC lumberyard

Loki with her tiny house built in the RBC lumberyard

The Village Coalition inspired an innovative private sector initiative to build hard tents or “pods” for Portland houseless communities, 18 of which were built in the final quarter of 2016. With the incredible support of City Repair, Congregation Beth Israel, Castaway Portland, Tivnu, Oregon Tradeswomen, Constructing Hope, Portland Youth Builders, Natural Felt, National Urban Housing, Center for Public Interest and Design, and many more—including Andy Olshin and the Village Coalition—we will build up to 100 more pods in 2017. The ReBuilding Center continues to supply building materials (along with the help of Lowe’s and Parr Lumber) for this initiative as well as transporting the tiny houses around town.

During the summer, nearly 100 individuals came together to advise the RBC as it considers re-developing the north end of its property. That report has provided RBC with the invaluable wisdom of the community as we seek to leverage our space to the fullest potential to expand our mission to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of our community. 

ReBuilding Center Japan in Nagano

ReBuilding Center Japan in Nagano

An extraordinary spoken word event at the Mississippi Street Fair; the construction of a new reused materials studio at; the opening of ReBuilding Center Japan; the first of a new annual Labor Day community celebration at the RBC, complete with the lumberyard music stage (this year's event honored the retirement and service to community of long-time Community Outreach Manager Linda Hunter); and so much more—we could not and would not have realized so much with the support of so many of you.  

And let’s not forget Lean Portland, an extraordinary group of professionals who are giving up their Saturdays pro bono to help the RBC become a more efficient and effective organization to better meet the needs of our guests and our community. When you visit our store in 2017, you’ll notice “lean system” efforts underway!

With the support of the Energy Trust of Oregon, we converted to LED lighting. With the support of the Autzen Foundation and the Portland Development Commission, we were able to undertake a feasibility study to explore the expansion of our space and mission. With the support of the Collins Foundation, we are well prepared for the challenges of successful implementation of the deconstruction ordinance. 

We deconstructed 20 homes and dozens of kitchens, garages, bathrooms, and barns in 2016. These projects diverted nearly 3,000 tons of materials from the landfill; saved more than 40,000 gallons of water; and prevented some 500 tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. 

None of this would have been possible without the assistance of nearly 2,000 volunteers, providing us with more than 20,000 hours of your precious time. This was your year—from ushering people to their seats at York last March, to repairing homes in June, cheering on the spoken word in July, and building sleeping pods in the fall. And each and every day, processing materials, putting them on the store shelves, and taking them off the shelves again to give to our guests. Our customers, volunteers, supporters, and staff—the ReBuilding Center community without whom we would not even be here. 

We may remember 2016 as an extraordinarily difficult year—one that may well change the trajectory of our nation and our planet. In what may be challenging times ahead, do not forget to recall what you accomplished this year—with others, in community. You’re amazing. Thank you.

Cover photo by: Carlyle Ellis

January Volunteer Opportunities

Get involved with the Portland reuse community this January with the Rebuilding Center! Learn more about reuse and remodeling with the Portland Build, Remodel, and Landscape Show; help build community with Hands On Greater Portland; gain fire safety skills with the Red Cross; add to your resume with Rebuilding Center internships; join the newsletter team; do some cathartic denailing while salvaging materials for reuse; and represent RBC's DIY spirit tabling at the Portland Fix-It-Fair. Check out these amazing opportunities below!

Join us in honoring the legacy of Dr. King through meaningful service to our community.

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve.
— Martin Luther King Jr.


Need some home modeling inspiration? Join the ReBuilding Center at the:

Portland Build, Remodel, and Landscape Show
January 6-8
at the Oregon Convention Center

Volunteer for a shift at our table to share ReBuilding Center info with attendees. Before or after your shift, see the latest design trends and talk to experts about energy efficiency, home automation, windows, and much more. 

Volunteers that table at the Build, Remodel, and Landscape Show will actively engage those attending the show as a representative of the ReBuilding Center. Event volunteers will answer questions, provide information, and be a general steward for our organization's mission of "Inspiring people to value and discover existing resources to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of communities." 

Already a volunteer?

New to volunteering at the ReBuilding Center?

Email with any questions.

Building Community Through Reuse
Social Night

Are you interested in making new friends in the community while volunteering? Look no further than a Hands On event at the Rebuilding Center.

January 12th
6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
at the ReBuilding Center
3625 N Mississippi Ave

Come to the Rebuilding Center to help with hands-on projects while working with donated materials. Afterwards, head across the street with fellow participants to StormBreaker Brewing for a post-volunteering happy hour! Sign up through Hands On Greater Portland's website by clicking on the link below:

MLK Day of Service: Save Lives by Installing Fire Alarms

ReBuilding Center and Red Cross are teaming up to keep people safe in 2017!

January 14th
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
at the ReBuilding Center
3625 N Mississippi Ave

You can help save lives in the following ways:

  1. Documenter: The documenter should have good handwriting and attention to detail for completing paperwork. The documenter will document the services provided, detailing the number that were in the home before the team perform their installation, the number of Red Cross alarms installed, if a plan was developed, and basic demographics information about the residents in each household. The documenter in addition to completing paperwork will also maintain an accurate count of total alarms installed, homes visited, and other details.
  2. Educator: The educator will share fire prevention and response information with the residents. They will encourage/assist the residents with creating a home-fire evacuation plan. The educator will also provide residents with information about actions they should take when an earthquake occurs and information about what should be included in their disaster supplies kit.
  3. Installer (minimum 16 yrs/old): The installer will inspect existing alarms to verify that they are working, their age, and their placement. The installer will offer to replace alarms that are 5-years or older with new alarms. They will also install additional alarms and place them based on recommendations provided by the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

From the Red Cross website:

The goal? To install 1,000 smoke alarms in homes that need them in the Boise/ Eliot neighborhood of NE Portland. This is our region’s largest home fire campaign to date, which means we need you! Mark your calendar and please join us to volunteer, along with your friends, family and neighbors, to help with this major Centennial Celebration event!

Sign up for a role that looks interesting to you and you'll get contacted by Sam, Red Cross's volunteer coordinator about details for the day! If you are unable to make the entire day, still sign up - we can use your help! If you are new to the ReBuilding Center and would like to volunteer, select what "type" of volunteer you are on our website and fill out an application so you can attend an orientation and get into action! Login into Volgistics and locate the opportunity in the directory and sign up today by clicking on the link below:

DeNailing Every Tuesday and Saturday

Every Tuesday and Saturday, come on out to help us divert materials from the waste stream! You'll team up with Pete Heim, our Site Supervisor to rid salvaged boards of it's nail-esque componentry and turn them into salvaged building materials for reuse (that could end up being used in a volunteer-led project to build tiny houses for the houseless)!

Every Tuesday & Saturday
9:00 am. - 1:00 p.m.
1001 NE 2nd Ave (near the Rose Quarter Max transit stop)

Dress for the weather. We will provide all necessary safety equipment and tools. If we end up canceling, only those that have scheduled (either online, or by contacting Dave) will be notified. Login into Volgistics and locate the opportunity in the directory and sign up today by clicking on the link below:


The Fix-It Fair is a free City of Portland event where you can learn simple ways to save money and connect with resources. Join your neighbors and talk to the experts about how to spend less and stay healthy.

January 28th
9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
George Middle School
10000 N Burr Ave, Portland

Event volunteers will answer questions, provide information, and be a general steward for our organization's mission of "Inspiring people to value and discover existing resources to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of communities."

If you are new to the ReBuilding Center and would like to volunteer, select what "type" of volunteer you are on our website and fill out an application so you can attend an orientation and get into action! Login and sign up by clicking on the link below:


Do you have an interest nonprofit work, data analysis, media creation, or social media? Do you want to gain experience using data analysis and marketing tools to boost nonprofit efforts while increasing your business, technical, and marketing skills? If so, apply for the Digital Marketing Analysis internship or the Media Content Creator internship with the ReBuilding Center! For more information, email RBC Marketing & Communication Ashley Howe at or apply online: 


Every week, the newsletter team meets with Ashley, the ReBuilding Center’s Communications & Marketing Manager. Together, the team writes stories, carries out interviews, takes photos, and puts together the ReBuilding Center’s e-newsletters. These newsletters are great portfolio/resume builders!

The 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!

To sign up schedule yourself by entering in your login information here:

Then click on "My Schedule," select any Thursday, click "Schedule me," select any time between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., hit "Continue", confirm, and voila!

Alternatively, you can email Ashley Howe, the Communications & Marketing Manager at

A huge thanks to all who gave to The Rebuilding Center through Give!Guide

The ReBuilding Center participated in the Willamette Week's Give!Guide for the first time this year... and it was a huge success!

We want to give a huge shout-out of thanks to everyone who donated to us, including our two business sponsors, who are also our neighbors:

The business sponsors offered free tacos and drink coupons as incentives as well as a $2,000 donation match from Por Que No.

The ReBuilding Center hosted an event at the end of November at StormBreaker Brewing to kick off and celebrate participation in the Give!Guide, where we raised an initial $1,250 from donors.

Give!Guide aims to increase year-end-giving participation in individuals 35 years or younger. The ReBuilding Center received more than 100 individual donations, with more than a third of which were made by people under 36 years of age!

For this first year participating in the Give!Guide, our goal was to raise over $10,000, and we are excited to announce we met that goal (including Por Que No's match)! Even though the official Give!Guide period is now over for the year, you can still make a donation to support the work and mission of the ReBuilding Center.

All donations support the ReBuilding Center’s mission to build community through reuse, including our Community Outreach Program, which strengthens the capacity and impact of community-led efforts to create a more equitable, vibrant, and resilient Portland.

Last year, the ReBuilding Center diverted over 2 million pounds of building materials from the landfill—such as lumber, hardware, lighting, and doors—and sold over 400,000 items back to the community for reuse. Through these sales, the ReBuilding Center was able to donate essential building materials to over 200 local grassroots projects, and our Community Outreach Program was able to support 12 community-building initiatives.

Again, thanks to everyone who gave through the Give!Guide this year. We’re excited to participate again next year and look forward to continuing to grow and connect with the ReBuilding Center community!

Tiny Homes on Display at PNCA

In mid-December, 14 tiny houses were displayed in a parking lot near the Pacific Northwest College of Art.  These were designed by local professional architects and students of the PSU architecture program and then constructed at various sites, including two at the ReBuilding Center.  The concept is to provide small, safe, and beautiful sleeping units for the houseless population of the city. Initial planning was carried out by a collection of public and private participants calling themselves “Partners On Dwelling,”  hence the acronym “POD.”  By a happy coincidence, tiny houses can also be referred to as “pods!” 

A collection of “pods” becomes a village, and are planned to be located at various sites throughout the city.  The current 14 pods are proposed to be sited in North Portland in the community of Kenton. New pods continue to be built at the Rebuilding Center, utilizing available recycled materials. The long-term goal of the initiative is to create 30 villages of 30 pods each. 

For additional information you can check out:


New ReBuilding Center Flourishes in Japan

As many Portlanders know, there is a great affection between Portland and the people of Japan and vice versa. Each year, we have dozens of visitors from Japan, many of them through Portland State University. Two years ago, Kanako Azuna visited us and was very impressed with our ethic of reuse and building a sustainable economy that works for the entire community.  He was so inspired that when he returned to Japan, he began to create the Japanese version of the ReBuilding Center. After revisiting us in August 2016, Kanako opened the ReBuilding Center Japan in the Nagano prefecture of Japan in September of this year. 

The ReBuilding Center Japan has been very active, both in the community and online. The Center’s Facebook page currently has about 3,500 followers, and a promotional video detailing the founder’s visit to Portland and the construction of the Nagano site has been posted to YouTube.

The new ReBuilding Center Japan also maintains a blog where they educate the community about waste utilization, and report on completed community projects. According to the blog, one of ReBuilding Center Japan’s first community jobs was to dismantle a warehouse so that new condominiums could be constructed in its place. 

When roughly translated, the Rebuilding Center Japan’s website says “ Our philosophy is to ‘ReBuild New Culture…giving value to things abandoned in the world, sent out to the world once again, they will connect to the next generation.’"

These are some photos from Rebuilding Center, Japan

Celebration of Portland through Fuse - Portland Dance Project

Photographer Jingzi Zhao uses the industrial landscape of the Rebuilding Center store for her FUSE – Portland Dance Portrait project. By photographing dancers in Portland landmarks, Jingzi turns these everyday spaces into something extraordinary. Jingzi collaborated with dancers Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason from Meraki Duo Acrobatics to pose in the Rebuilding Center store. We asked Jingzi some questions about her work and how she decided to feature the Rebuilding Center in Fuse. 

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

What drives you to create art?

This is a million dollar question. Simply put, the desire to express ideas and tell stories is what motivates me. 

Xena Isabella Rosas Güitròn at Polaris Dance Theater

Xena Isabella Rosas Güitròn at Polaris Dance Theater

What do you love about Portland?

It wasn't love at first sight when I moved here 11 years ago. It took me a while to start to appreciate what the city has to offer. I love the outdoors, the eco-friendly lifestyle, the vibrant art scenes, and the open-mindedness of people.  Portland still fascinates me, after all these years. You can be whoever you want to be and there isn't much expectation on how one should behave or achieve, except that one should recycle and compost.

Xuan Cheng at Oregon Ballet Theater

Xuan Cheng at Oregon Ballet Theater

Why did you decide to work with dance performers?

I love dance and my work has been shifting more towards dance photography these years. Dancers are story-tellers. They evoke feelings and create dramas with their body and movement. That's the effect I wanted for the Fuse project: a dramatized version of everyday moment.  

Emily Running at Dance Wire

Emily Running at Dance Wire

What are some of the most memorable places in Portland you've photographed at? Do you have any stories about particular sites, dancers, and people interacting with your work?

They are all memorable to me. All the places we photographed at are places that people frequent, like the Rose Garden, Forest Park, a coffee shop, a brewery pub, and a vintage store. It's everyday landscape. What's special is the collaborative and creative process that the dancers and I went through at each place, figuring out ways to infuse drama and humor while evoking place. 

I think the beauty of the Fuse project is it takes dancers off the stage of theaters and puts them on the playground of everyday life where they are more accessible and connected to people. When I photographed Jenae and Dominic in the ReBuilding Center, a guy approached them during our shoot and asked for their information looking for performers for his New Year’s Eve performance. He happened to be shopping in the store and saw Jenae and Dominic in action. 

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

Why did you want to photograph at the ReBuilding Center?

This project is to create works that showcase the city and our lifestyle. The Rebuilding Center is the perfect type of local business that embodies the environmentally conscious nature of Portland. People come here to find new use of old materials. Given that Portland has been experiencing a surge in development, it is more important than ever to encourage people to recycle and reuse. Besides, as a photographer, I found the store space visually stimulating.  It's like some sort of wonderland. I had always wanted to photograph here.    

What was your favorite part about your experience at the ReBuilding Center?

People. For the shoot I visited the ReBuilding Center four times within two weeks. Every single person I met was so nice and supportive. Some went out of their way to help us on the shoot. I also appreciate the open-mindedness of the management that allowed us to photograph on a busy weekend. Without your support we wouldn't have been able to pull it off.

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

Jenae Gerstmann and Dominic Eason at Meraki Duo Acrobatics

Why does community matter to you?

We are all connected. The more we are aware of what's going on around us, available to us, the better we are able to make use of the resources and have a higher chance to succeed. I hope this Fuse - Portland Dance Portrait project helps connect people and communities, enhance the awareness of and appreciation for our performing artists, local businesses and the core values that make us proud of being Portlandians. 

You can contact Jingzi Zhao and learn more about Fuse at

Of Sleeping Pods, Hard Tents, And Simple Human Decency

With an estimated 5,000 homeless living in Portland and 2,000 sleeping on the streets on any given night, Portland’s housing crisis has created headlines, headaches and heart ache. It’s also generated a lot of creative energy and good will that’s starting to have a real impact.

The ReBuilding Center has long provided materials to the villages around Portland’s inner core – Dignity Village and Right to Dream Too (R2D2) come to mind. Last fall, Hazelnut Grove (located below the Overlook Neighborhood on Greeley Avenue) began accessing building materials from the ReBuilding Center. That’s when Tom Patzkowski, the ReBuilding Center's Store Manager, asked if the villages ever got together to compare notes and collaborate with each other. That simple question led to bi-weekly gatherings at the ReBuilding Center, fed by free food donated by Mississippi Pizza.

The informal gatherings grew. City officials came to interact with the villages. Service providers came too. More pizza was ordered. The simple gathering came to name itself the Village Coalition. And today, it is a movement, with support from the City, service providers, and the private sector. And with 501(c)(3) status in the offing, many good things are planned for 2017.

But some terrific things have happened already. Architects and planners have developed multiple designs for 8’x6', 8’x8’, and ‘8x10’ sleeping pods. This fall, funded by members of the private sector, including the Olshin Family Trust and Lowe’s, a build was organized. Four pods were built at a lot in Northwest Portland. You can see a video of that build here: 

The four “hard tents,” as they are designated by the City of Portland, were completed here at the ReBuilding Center with volunteers from TIVNU, National Urban Housing, Oregon Tradeswomen, and Constructing Hope. In a very exciting development, the City of Portland passed a resolution in October allowing religious institutions to host up to four of the hard tents on their properties. Shortly thereafter, two of the pods were set up at Congregation Beth Israel as a model for other congregations. One of the pods was delivered to Hazelnut Grove the day after Thanksgiving, an event that was captured by KGW and can be viewed here:

And, in early December, the Full Holy Ghost Mission Church of God on Killingsworth will take delivery of the fourth pod.

But with 2,000 people sleeping on the streets every night, four pods barely scratch the surface. So, a group led by City Repair, PSU’s Center for Public Interest Design, the ReBuilding Center, and Open Archiecture have organized a build of 14 pods, which should be completed by the end of the year. According to Mark Lakeman, one of the leaders of this build, “This is one of the most exciting initiatives we’ve ever been involved with. It signals the emergence of the ReBuilding Center as an increasingly active member of the community and brings together some of the leading architects to address one of our community’s most pressing concerns.”

Andy Olshin has even bigger dreams: organizing the community to build 100 pods in 2017. Said Olshin, “I want to see how we can build community while we’re building community.” The ReBuilding Center hopes to have one of these 100 pods under construction at the store all year long. Volunteers are welcome!

tiny home.jpg

This gorgeous pod features a floor made from a bowling alley lane. Built by TIVNU, it was painted by Loki, the future occupant, who can be seen in the photo above. Loki, and her pod, now live at Hazelnut Grove. Says Loki of her new home: “Never felt more at home."

In other Rebuilding Center tiny home news, we spoke with Linda Pope from Portland Community College about the tiny home project that she worked on with her students.

Linda says that the tiny home project came to her by chance, when money was offered to her and her students during a faculty meeting. Linda had no building experience before starting the project, but learned through working as a team and “figuring it out as [they] went." Linda likes working with salvaged materials because it saves the planet by using materials gleaned from older structures. From working with the Rebuilding Center, Linda is most impressed with the amazing staff and the treasures she and her students find when they visit the store. Ultimately, she likes the feeling of accomplishment that she gets at the end of the day from building homes for those in need and collaborating with her students. Linda shared that she wishes that “every town had a ReBuilding Center. It is an essential part of our future!” 

Traveling Artist Adds a Splash of Color with RBC Mural

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Those of you who have walked by the ReBuilding Center recently may have noticed something new. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, artist Jennifer Korsen visited the Rebuilding Center and used her talents to bring a creative touch to our covered bike shelter. The Rebuilding Center paid for the supplies, and Jennifer got to work. Originally, Jennifer’s piece was going to depict an octopus, which was replaced by a heart.  Eventually, a heart tree was chosen for the central image of the mural.

Jennifer’s official website says that she is known for her work with murals, mixed media pieces, and street installations. She is a traveling artist, and her works have been shown in many places, including New York, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Some of her pieces have been shown outside the USA, particularly in Germany and the UK. 

In addition to her professional website, Korsen posts images of her artwork to her instagram account. An image of the Rebuilding Center’s mural is posted there, alongside other new art pieces.

Jennifer’s “Heart Tree” can be seen and experienced at the south end of the ReBuilding Center in the bike shelter near the parking lot.