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Fix and maintain

Think repair for the holidays with over 200 local shops

Think repair for the holidays with over 200 local shops

Did you know you can find repair shops all over the Portland region through an online database?

Portland Repair Finder is dedicated to helping more people fix more things. The organization makes tools, knowledge and resources easier to find, and helps tell the stories behind repair work. They believe that repairing things is good for the local economy, community and environment, and it is empowering and fun.

The creator of this online tool is Joel Newman. He started the website in 2017 to become a comprehensive access point for repair of all kinds around Portland. His background is in art and design - and bicycle repair.

Joel (right) fixing a bike at a Repair Cafe.

Joel (right) fixing a bike at a Repair Cafe.

He said over the next year they will be revising the search and filtering features, as well as growing the database of repair shops and resources. The ability to search the site by item as well as by mode of repair– whether that's a needed tool for a DIY fix, expert advice or professional repair– is key to showing people the range of options available, and getting more people involved.

One of the cool things about repair work is its ability to add life to a favorite item or keepsake. If you get a favorite pair of jeans or shoes mended or restore a piece of furniture or jewelry that has been in your family for generations, it’s much more unique and memorable than buying something new.

Give the gift of repair

With the holidays upon us, now’s a good time to find alternative gift ideas. Look at who you plan to buy for this year. Would they benefit from a gift certificate from a jeweler, cobbler or for a gadget? Could a family heirloom be repaired, old photos be restored or a favorite outfit brought back to life through alteration? There are 200 businesses included on the Repair Finder.

And don’t forget about free repair events in the region. Both Repair Cafés and Repair Fairs take place around the Portland region throughout the year. Think of these events as an ongoing way to get small repairs made to keep your possessions in circulation and in use. The Resourceful PDX event calendar lists all the repair events taking place, along with other community events.


The Proof is in the Repair

The Proof is in the Repair

Rain Delisle from Indigo Proof gets her hands dirty with denim repair.

Rain sees herself as a repair crafts-person. She wants to help people wear their loved things longer. Her specialty: denim. If you thought your favorite jeans that got holes in the seat are goners, she’s here to prove you wrong and get them back on your legs.

After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Boston, she moved to San Francisco and worked as a contractor for three years in the fashion industry repairing denim. With much trial and error, she developed her unique style and technique of repairing jeans - and it quickly became in high demand.

She began posting her work on a blog called Indigo Proof, a name she used to describe the blue hands she gets working with indigo and denim - the “proof” on her hands at the end of the day.

In December 2015, Rain moved to Portland to launch her own denim repair company, Indigo Proof Denim Repair. Portland was a natural fit for her business, knowing Portland residents are into a lot of unique things, especially repair as a philosophy.

I love to sew and get my hands dirty. I was interested in creating a niche for repair work I hadn’t seen in the market - a quality repair that lasts and gets better over time. Each pair of ripped jeans is a different problem to be solved and it can be difficult at times to find the answer, but that’s the fun of it!

Not just about Levi’s

Indigo Proof is in East Creative, an artist and creative space in Portland’s Central Eastside. There she has a steady stream of clients who have discovered her mostly through social media, who arrive with their torn jeans and a glimmer of hope that their long gone favorite pair can be able to be worn again. Her Instagram features a hashtag where clients can post and tag her in their wear photos - “jeans that have been repaired are a part of someone’s life, not just another pair of pants.” Depending on the severity of the damage, repairs can take anywhere from one hour to multiple full days of work.

“Raw denim starts as a blank canvas; each wearer creates their own unique fades depending on what they do in their jeans- like a fingerprint. No two pairs of the exact same jean will look the same on two different people- someone could keep a knife or phone in their front pocket creating faded outlines of their daily carry, the other could be a photographer and kneel on their right knee a little more causing accelerated fading in the knees. These little things determine how your jeans look over time.”

People “work on” their denim, meaning they wear in their jeans. Some of those people ship her their jeans from all over the world; New Zealand, Bahrain, Norway and the UK. These denim fanatics are lovingly referred to as “denim heads” and they even compete in global contests for fading a pair of jeans!

“Once they get to this worn-in and broken-in state, all that use can create thinning areas and rips- this is not the time to toss them after you’ve put in all that wear, they’re just starting to get good! I want to help people wear their jeans longer, so they can enjoy their old jeans as if they were new again.”

Get your jeans fixed

Contact Rain for repair rates, which are based on a full evaluation of what the jeans need to be restored. This year, she expanded her business to include denim alterations like tapering and tailoring, so Indigo Proof can be your destination for all denim services. She plans on growing even more this next year!

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Julie Derrick, from JD Shoe Repair, shares how to get your shoes ready for warmer weather.

The weather has tossed us about this spring, but summer is on the way. Along with planting flowers and vegetables, long-awaited projects at home, and the prospect of outdoor fun, it’s time to think about your shoes!

When we switch out wool sweaters for breezy summer fabrics, it’s the perfect opportunity to switch your shoe and boot wardrobe for the season as well. Here are some tips for making that transition go smoothly.

  1. Store shoes in good condition. Look over all the shoes and boots you’ve worn most during the heavy weather. If they are basically in good shape, you can clean them yourself or take them to your local cobbler for a professional clean/shine/conditioning treatment.
  2. Seek professional help. Some things your cobbler can help you assess and repair include run-down heels, water or salt marks, holes in soles, edges coming unglued, stitches unraveled, torn linings or broken zippers.
  3. Get ready for summer. For shoes that are about to get their day in the sun: Are your elastics and Velcro closures intact? Are the foot beds in place and complete? Are you missing a buckle or rivet? Are your heels worn down on the corners? Again, your cobbler can help.
  4. Shine those sneakers. Sneakers of all types can be cleaned at home or in a shop. One tip to keep sole edges bright; try using Shout! brand spray cleaner and a nailbrush or toothbrush. Mild detergent solutions can work well for uppers.
  5. Protect your delicate shoes. Suede and light color palettes are popular for summer; keep them protected with a spray waterproofing treatment you can do at home or have a professional do for you.
  6. Prep your bags, too. Purses, backpacks, and bags should be ready for day trips and longer journeys. Make sure your hardware, like snaps and rivets, is functional. Get those items cleaned professionally by a cobbler; we recommend making a few phone calls to make sure your cobbler does this, as not everyone provides these services (JD Shoe Repair does!).

The goal is to incorporate shoe care into your seasonal patterns, like any other home projects you do two or three times a year.

In the springtime, pull out all your summer gear and go through it as you prepare your winter goods for storage. While it is spring, get all your winter boots repaired and refreshed while you’re wearing your sandals and sneakers. Then in the autumn when the rains return, you are ready to greet the wetter season with dry feet in restored shoes and boots.

It’s a healthy cycle for your wardrobe, and you will be continually in touch with your shoes, boots and bags. Your local cobbler will appreciate you for spreading out the workload too, as our trade tends to be flooded in the fall and quieter in the summer. You can likely work out bulk pricing rates and expedited turnaround times too, as cobblers want to encourage this seasonal cleanup momentum.

Most shoe repair shops sell products they recommend for care of leathers and fabrics, as well as providing the services. Feel free to ask questions and request tutorials from professionals.

And remember to have a lot of fun in the sun!


Caring for what’s under your roof

Caring for what’s under your roof

Summer is the perfect time to give your home some additional TLC.

Safety First

Before you start a home remodeling, demolition or construction project, learn how to avoid toxic materials and handle potential dangers you might encounter, such as asbestos or lead paint.

Before a home project, test for asbestos. Metro transfer stations require documentation for all loads of construction, remodeling and demolition debris that might contain asbestos.

Seasonal Maintenance

Taking good care of your home can prevent big problems and save a lot of money in the long run. Tasks like cleaning out your gutters and repairing exposed wood quickly help your home last as long as possible.

When you need to replace materials, consider reclaimed or salvaged. They provide unique character, and often are stronger, more durable and higher quality — and may be less expensive than new materials.

Local Resources

Find these local resources and more on the Resourceful PDX map to help you improve and maintain your home:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • MetroPaint
  • The ReBuilding Center
  • Green Lents Community Tool Library
  • North Portland Tool Library
  • Northeast Portland Tool Library
  • Southeast Portland Tool Library

Resourceful PDX is your go-to for community resources.

Threading connections through repair

Threading connections through repair

“It touches my heart when people bring in sentimental items handed down in their families,” said Marie Coreil. “Like the woman who recently brought in a quilt made by her mother. While I sewed a new rip, she shared stories that brought back fond memories of my own mother.”

Marie loves sewing and is delighted to be a volunteer sewer with Repair PDX, where she helps people continue using items they cherish, like a favorite purse or pair of jeans.

As a Master Recycler volunteer and retiree, Marie uses her free time to give back to the community and support causes that she cares about. “I can use my time to support initiatives that depend on volunteerism to succeed.”

“Through my time as a Master Recycler, I learned about Repair PDX and began volunteering at the repair café events as a mender because I have always loved sewing. Later I learned about the Southeast Portland Tool Library and began volunteering there as well. Most recently, I joined the PDX Time Bank, which is a great resource for Portlanders to help each other that could be more widely used.”

Repair PDX provides free repair services to community members who bring in items they might otherwise throw away. From small appliances, to bike maintenance and mending services, Repair PDX not only offers participants a chance to fix things, it creates a space for connection and community.

“Many people would like to keep using their material possessions, but lack the skills or resources to maintain them or fix them when they break. Repair PDX addresses this need by holding repair events in different neighborhoods where people can take their things to be fixed – free of charge. It enables people to continue using things that might otherwise end up being thrown away.”

Repair PDX offers an excellent model for community involvement that is already being duplicated in other parts of the Portland metro region and across the country. Many people have skills they enjoy sharing and all it takes is a little of their time and some coordination to put it all together.

Marie encourages retirees to get involved in some kind of volunteer activity – something they enjoy doing anyway so they can experience the intangible rewards of giving back to the community.

“Another benefit for me personally is I have made new friends through Repair PDX. Two of the regular menders also live in the Sellwood neighborhood and we have become friends. I have also gotten to know people through overlapping circles of Portland’s sustainability activities.”

Do you consider yourself a tinkerer? Are you interested in repair? Join Marie and other volunteer fixers to help spread repair culture through the repair movement! Check out our events calendar for upcoming repair or related events.

Find more stories about repairing in Portland. #sharingcommunity

Cash in time dollars through PDX Time Bank

Cash in time dollars through PDX Time Bank

By guest blogger Nicole Willson, PDX Time Bank volunteer

Everyone has things they are good at and things they need help with - as well as things they don’t know how to do or don’t have time to do. That's what the PDX Time Bank is all about - allowing Portlanders to do the things they love in exchange for help doing the things they don’t know how to do, want to do, or have time to do. 

How a time bank works

A time bank is a community of people who share services in exchange for a complementary currency called time dollars. Each time bank member earns time dollars by using their skills and talents to help a neighbor in their community.

For example, you could earn a time dollar for walking someone’s dog and then use that time dollar to get a haircut or have someone bake you a cake. This allows time bank members to do what they enjoy in exchange for what they need, including tasks they may not want or be able to perform.

The amount of time dollars you earn is proportionate to the amount of time you spend on a task and everyone’s time is equally valuable. Someone who provides legal services gets the same amount of time dollars as someone who does a different service, such as babysitting. Having a zero balance is the ultimate goal of a time bank, unlike with a conventional bank. 

Since its revival in June 2014, the PDX Time Bank has grown to 125 members living in various parts of Portland. The skills offered by members include gardening, crafts and cooking. Time bankers are encouraged to give as well as receive since both create reciprocity and help build supportive networks within the community.

Time banking helps get things fixed

Time bank members can get items fixed, as well as provide volunteer hours to sustainability-related organizations like The City Repair Project and Repair PDX

When time bank members have a broken item they don’t know how to fix, they can request help through the time bank. That’s what time bank member Amanda Perl did when she needed someone to repair a broken slat on her futon bed. When she contacted the store where she purchased the futon, all they could do is sell her an entirely new bed frame for $180 so they recommended she get it fixed instead.

After posting her request, Amanda heard back from a time banker who asked for details about what was needed, including the dimensions of the slats. This time banker bought $2.67 worth of supplies at The ReBuilding Center and checked out a drill from the Northeast Portland Tool Library. The time banker then went to Amanda’s house and worked with her to remove the broken slat, drill holes in the new board and put it into place. Shortly after this project, Amanda was able to earn back the time dollars she paid for the repair by giving tai chi lessons.

I am delighted to no longer have a sagging bed! I paid the time banker for her time both in preparing for the repair and at my house, 2 time dollars, and reimbursed her $2.67 for the cost of the board. It was a very satisfying experience.
— Amanda Perl, PDX time banker

A few months after getting this repair, Amanda provided a service to fellow time banker, Cindy Hines, by fixing a broken strap on a pair of sandals. Cindy was also happy with her time banking experience.

She did a professional looking job, so the sandals look as good as new. I’ve been wearing them ever since.
— Cindy Hines, PDX time banker

There are gatherings and potlucks for members and those who are interested in learning more. Visit PDX Time Bank to learn about membership or join the Facebook group to see activities.

Oregon takes steps toward more reuse

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon chair and Resourceful PDX partner, shares an update on reuse and repair in Oregon.

Reuse Alliance has a vision of making reuse a mainstream part of people’s lives and as common as recycling currently is in our culture.

The Oregon Legislature recently passed two new laws that involve reuse and repair. Senate Bill 245 and Senate Bill 263 set goals and make funding available to develop programs to increase the practice of reuse and repair.

This creates exciting opportunities to increase the public’s awareness of and participation in the practice of reuse and repair.

The new laws support implementation of Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action. While earlier versions of this plan focused mostly on recycling efforts and managing waste, the 2050 plan addresses the full life cycle of materials (from raw materials, to manufacturing, purchasing and use, to disposal). It establishes a foundation for our state to use fewer raw materials and to get the most out of the resources we do consume. Reuse and repair play a big role in maximizing the useful life of the manufactured goods that are part of our daily lives.

Highlights from SB 263 addressing reuse and repair include:

  • Waste prevention and reuse education programs in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Funding or infrastructure support to promote and sustain reuse, repair, leasing or sharing efforts.
  • Technical assistance to promote and sustain reuse, repair or leasing of materials or other sharing efforts to reduce waste.

SB 245 will make grants available to government agencies, nonprofits and businesses that want to implement programs in support of the reuse and repair goals outlined in Oregon’s 2050 plan.

With grant funds becoming available early next year, it will take some time before we begin to see results from this important new legislation. Over the next few years, expect to see new, innovative programs that give you more options for reusing and repairing your belongings.

Resourceful PDX gives Portland residents tools and ideas for reducing waste

Get involved with reuse and repair now by tapping into what exists in the community already. Explore Portland’s many second-hand stores to find new-to-you clothing, furniture, electronics, household or craft items and salvage building materials.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, how-to classes and online tutorials can help you improve your sewing, bike or home repair skills quickly. There are also community resources, such as Repair PDX and local repair shops, that can fix anything from clothing and shoes, to furniture, tools, electronics, appliances and more.

As you’re repairing, reusing, borrowing and sharing, remember that you’re blazing the trail for others to follow. Keep up the good work!

Learn new skills from talented Portlanders at PDX Skillshare!

Learn new skills from talented Portlanders at PDX Skillshare!

Did you know that during the Enlightenment, penny universities began to appear across England? For just one penny, people from all levels of society could purchase a cup of coffee and attend lectures and discussions on a wide variety of topics taught by their neighbors.

PDX Skillshare is a nonprofit organization that is trying to create a similar culture in our city by giving Portlanders the opportunity to teach their neighbors valuable skills.

PDX Skillshare does the work of organizing classes – scouting locations, promoting the workshops, and handling ticket sales – so that talented Portlanders can focus on sharing their passions and skills with others through hands-on, affordable classes.

The topics taught are as varied as Portland itself. This fall, the Skillshare offerings include everything from cake decorating to basic budgeting and financial planning. Fall classes are already underway – view upcoming classes at the PDX Skillshare website.

"If you have a skill you would love to share with your neighbors, we want to hear from you," said Noah Heller, founder of PDX Skillshare.

In particular, PDX Skillshare is interested in offering classes that help Portlanders learn skills that will help them lead more sustainable lives. 

In City Gardening 101: Container Herb Gardening you can learn from a seasoned green thumb on how to start gardening even if don't have a yard. In the same spirit, at Learn to Hem Your Pants students will be able to leave class with a money-saving skill that will extend the life of their clothing by making sure it fits well.

Noah thinks Portland is the perfect city to help bring back the spirit of the penny universities. "We are blessed with so many passionate and talented residents, there is really no limit to what the city can accomplish if we can share those skills with each other."

Take your learning to a new place with PDX Skillshare classes!

Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge announces 2015 winners

Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge announces 2015 winners

Whether it's a neighborhood garden, a community swap, or a tool lending library, the Center for a New American Dream knows that your block, street, or neighborhood has an exciting project just waiting to come to life. That's why the Center for a New American Dream launched the first-ever Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge in 2013.

One of the 2015 winners includes a project from our neighbors up in Seattle. The project will create a free tool library in the Capitol Hill neighborhood with a workshop space, classes, and fixer’s collective to help build community and reduce consumerism. Read all about the five winners – and think about how you can get involved for the next round of grants.

Portland already has four tool libraries, available to residents of East PortlandNorth PortlandNortheast Portland, and Southeast Portland. In fact, they often partner with Repair PDX to host repair café events in their space, so residents can get items fixed for free.

Drop Resourceful PDX a line to ask questions or share what’s going on in your community and neighborhood. 

With a little TLC, your shoes will love you back

With a little TLC, your shoes will love you back

With the change in seasons, now is a great time to get your shoes tuned up so they're ready for fall and winter weather. And if you're shopping for new shoes, part of maintaining items we love includes choosing better made stuff up front. It may cost you more, but lasts longer.

Alicia Polacok, from Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by JD’s Shoe Repair in North Portland and spoke with owner Julie Derrick about fixing and maintaining shoes.

"Julie, or JD, has been in the shoe repair business for nine years. She sought out a different career and transitioned to life as a cobbler by working with others in the shoe business to learn her trade. Not only does JD’s Shoe Repair fix shoes, but they refurbish and sell shoes of all kinds in the shop.

There are many variations in construction and use of materials, all of which affect repairability. Customers can ask their retailer if something is repairable before you buy. When in doubt, ask a cobbler about a pair of shoes while you still have the option to return them in case they do not meet your specifications.

Tips on what to look for

When looking for shoes that can be repaired, the main areas to consider are the heels and soles. Look for shoes or boots constructed from layers of materials such as leather and hard rubber. Steer away from molded soles that are all one big cushy piece; generally speaking, once these are worn through, they are finished.

Heel blocks made from hard plastics and stacked leather are best suited to repair, regardless of heel height or shape.

Welted construction means that the shoe uppers and outsoles are both stitched to the welt (the edge that goes all the way around). This is the sturdiest construction for long wear and multiple repairs. Dress shoes, work boots and western boots are generally built this way. Beware fake welting! Many shoes are built to look like they are strongly put together, but are really a molded piece of rubber or plastic.

Leather uppers can be sewn, patched and stretched, which makes them last longer, especially if you care for the leather by keeping it clean and conditioned.

Generally, harder shoes and boots are going to last longer. While many people like the comfort of molded soles, they are not built for repair. Some softer shoes, such as Dansko shoes, Timberland boots and shoes, and Birkenstock shoes, can be re-heeled and sometimes re-soled.

Some makers whose shoes and boots are often brought in for repair are Frye, Red Wing, Born, nearly all western boots, Danner, Bed Stu, Steve Madden, Cydwoq, and most wood-heeled/soled clogs and platforms.

Maintain shoes to make them last

Look for heels wearing down and get the bottom layer replaced before you run into your heel block if at all possible.

Try to get new soles on before you wear holes in the old ones. Even rubbery softer materials can often sustain a repair or two if they are not worn down to the insoles.

If your uppers begin to crack or tear, get them patched on the inside or outside.

Keep your shoes clean and conditioned. Even in storage, leather will get dry and begin to crack if not conditioned regularly.

Store shoes in a dry place with something inside them to hold their shape. This prevents cracking of the uppers. If you do not have shoe forms, you can use folded up t-shirts, socks, skeins of yarn, newspaper or other materials to hold them in place.

If your shoes come unglued, repair them! There are a lot of minor glue jobs you can do yourself  Shoe Goo actually works! A shoe repair shop can handle the projects that seem beyond your skill or interest levels. 

Take stock of your own shoes and find your favorites that can be repaired. Portland has many options for local shoe repair businesses. Search online to locate cobblers in your neighborhood."