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!

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