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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. 

Pay it forward in Portland with Rooster

Pay it forward in Portland with Rooster

Rooster is a community of neighbors who share free resources together. It’s about borrowing things you need – and about making connections in your own community.

How it works

Become a member of the online community, then:

  • Ask for whatever you need: Give, get, lend, borrow, share, help or get together with like-minded locals.
  • Help whenever you can: See what neighbors need or have to offer, and help them make it happen.

One rule: Everything’s free, in the spirit of generosity and paying it forward.

How it started (with a Thanksgiving potluck)

When husband and wife Gil and Tali moved into their home in Palo Alto, California, they had few relationships with people in their area, and almost none that could be considered substantial friendships. Simple tasks like borrowing a drill to hang their shelf unit or finding a person who could help them set up their bike rack became frustrating, and they ended up buying tools they weren’t going to use in the long term and paying for professional services that could have easily been achieved with the help of a friendly neighbor.

Rather than spending Thanksgiving alone, they decided to reach out and find other individuals to share a holiday meal together. Over the weekend, Gil coded a mailing list and named it Rooster, with the thought of a rooster in your backyard, calling out to your neighbors. They invited several friends to join and also invite their own friends. The first thing they posted was an invitation to a Thanksgiving potluck, where eight Rooster members they hadn’t met before showed up and had a wonderful time celebrating the holiday and getting acquainted.

Soon enough the mailing list took a life of its own, as Rooster members began borrowing bikes, baseball bats and baby cribs, handing down used baby clothes and furniture and meeting one another to go jogging, fix a bike chain or have a language exchange. There are now 10,000 families who are part of the Rooster movement.

“Kindness amongst strangers is contagious,” says Tali. “By helping a neighbor on Rooster, you’re not only helping a single person, but inspiring a chain reaction of participation, giving and kindness throughout Rooster. You might also discover you’ve made some new friends along the way, as we’ve seen happen so many times before, by simply being there to lend a hand, rely on one another and smile while we do so.”

Rooster is now in Portland

Community-positive organizations all over Portland have joined in kicking off Portland’s pay it forward community on Rooster and are calling all sharing-minded individuals to join in. Learn more about the local organizations and how you can get involved in giving, sharing, helping and reusing as a way of life. Join Portland Rooster.

Portland Community ToolBank lends tools to charitable organizations

Portland Community ToolBank lends tools to charitable organizations

Resourceful PDX partner Alicia Polacok from Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently visited the Portland Community ToolBank to learn more about this new community resource in Portland.

Are you part of a community organization, nonprofit group or neighborhood association? Do you need tools for projects or events? The Portland Community ToolBank is here for you!

According to Executive Director Zoya Kumar, the Portland ToolBank serves charitable organizations with high quality and a large of volume of tools to build, preserve, beautify, clean and restore the community. They currently have 92 different types of tools and maintain over 6,000 total tools in their 10,000 square foot facility in NE Portland.

The Portland Community ToolBank is a not-for-profit tool lending program that serves nonprofits by placing all kinds of tools (ladders, drills, saws, hoes, shovels and more) in the hands of the volunteers who are painting schools, building ramps for injured veterans, repairing seniors’ roofs, landscaping public spaces, and more. They are guaranteeing that every volunteer is equipped with the tools they need to get the job done.

The Portland ToolBank officially opened in late April 2015 and has been partnering with groups in the greater Portland/Vancouver area to get projects done. It acts as an affiliate and is part of the national network based in Atlanta.

While organizations need to register to become a member agency at no charge, there are small fees associated with borrowing tools for any size of community projects – small, medium or large. There is even a tool borrowing credit for those organizations interested in becoming a member this summer.

Here are some of the types of organizations that can benefit from the Portland Community ToolBank:

  • Tax exempt organizations

  • Schools and PTAs/PTOs

  • Neighborhood associations

  • Faith-based groups

  • Civic organizations

  • Government agencies

  • Veterans groups

Are you a Portland resident interested in borrowing tools for your own projects? Find out more about the four local tool libraries, available to residents in East, North, Northeast and Southeast Portland.

Contact Zoya Kumar at if you are interested in additional information, tours, or volunteer information.

Shwop is a year-round swap shop for Portlanders

Shwop is a year-round swap shop for Portlanders

Alicia Polacok, from Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by Shwop in Southeast Portland and spoke with owner Marci Pelletier about a new take on swapping.

Marci Pelletier has been thrift shopping for 27 years. And owning her own business isn’t anything new either. She’s been involved with start-ups and financial companies most of her professional life. Starting a swapping business seemed like a natural fit. Marci opened Shwop three years ago. After outgrowing a space in Woodstock, she’s been in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood since 2013.

“Shwop is a clothing swap boutique where people pay a membership fee and then swap clothes,” said Marci. There are over 600 members who swap clothes, shoes and some household goods. Marci wants her shop to have a community feeling – offering women, men and kids a place to meet each other, find usable items at a deep discount and get the retail therapy that many of us crave.

The average person throws away 65 pounds of clothing a year. Swapping provides a different way to donate unwanted or unneeded clothes and reinvigorate your own wardrobe by shopping at Shwop.

Shwop isn’t a consignment store, nor does Marci buy clothes. Instead, members pay a fee to harness the stock. Marci keeps track of everything that comes through the door and then sorts and tags it for member store credit. Members are then free to shop for items they want to take home, matching their credit.  

Marci also works with artists to upcycle or repurpose not-so-perfect items that come into the store. One artist uses denim jeans as her canvas. One classroom of first to third graders at Franciscan Montessori Earth School use stained and worn out t-shirts for weaving rag rugs. The rugs sold at their school auction for $1,300 each!

Portland residents are welcome to learn more about Shwop online or by visiting the store to become a member.  

PDX Skillshare is a day of free classes on July 12 from 1 until 6 p.m.

PDX Skillshare is a day of free classes on July 12 from 1 until 6 p.m.

PDX Skillshare is a day of free classes, taught and organized by your neighbors. It’s a way to learn new skills, pick up a hobby and meet other people in a fun and informal setting.

People have interests and talents to share and PDX Skillshare shows that Portland’s sharing community continues to grow in exciting new ways. This grassroots event, organized by volunteers, allows for anyone to be a teacher, a student, or both, and encourages reciprocal learning.

The event takes place on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at George Middle School, 10000 N Burr Ave, in North Portland.  Classes start on the hour from 1 - 6 p.m. and run for 50 minutes each.

Over 50 classes are scheduled on a wide variety of subjects, and categorized by crafts, food, home, garden, academics, creative activities, exercise, business, professional skills, health, storytelling and repair.

Resourceful living options include planning and cooking meals, getting your home organized, learning to mend your clothes and even repairing your bike. Visit for a full list of classes.

Event details:

  • Students must order their free tickets online.
  • Check in begins at 11:30 a.m. and students will receive a program and a schedule for the day’s classes.
  • A sign-up sheet for each of the classes will be posted at 12:15 p.m. and students will be able to sign up for classes.
  • Classes start on the hour from 1 - 6 p.m. and run for 50 minutes each. 

Look for Green Spots at Sunday Parkways in North Portland on June 22

Look for Green Spots at Sunday Parkways in North Portland on June 22

Sunday Parkways takes place this weekend in North Portland, with Green Spots popping up along the route to show sustainable community features that nurture healthy, connected neighborhoods.

The list of Green Spots include:

  • June Key Delta Community Center (N Ainsworth Ave and Albina Ave)
  • Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park (N Delaware Ave and Bryant St)
  • North Portland Tool Library at the Historic Kenton Firehouse (Green Spot is at N Delaware Ave and Schofi­eld St; Tool Library is one block east at N Brandon Ave)
  • New Columbia at McCoy Park (N Trenton Ave and Fiske Ave)
  • Transportation Safety (N Willamette Blvd and Rosa Parks Way)

Be Resourceful is partnering with Green Spot at the North Portland Tool Library at the Historic Kenton Firehouse near Kenton Park. At the Green Spot, Sunday Parkways attendees can learn how to borrow tools from the tool library, get help repairing broken items at Repair Cafés, and share favorite community resources on the Be Resourceful map.

The Kenton Firehouse itself also has shared space available to rent for gatherings of many sizes, and also hosts community events. The space offers a variety of ways to extend the life of the things that you need, meet neighbors and learn about the sharing community.

North Portland Sunday Parkways is Sunday, June 22, 2014, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The route takes you on a tour along the scenic Willamette Boulevard, and then you can glide towards Peninsula, Arbor Lodge, Kenton, Columbia Annex and McCoy parks to enjoy an array of activities, food, music, vendors and fun.

Grow more this gardening season by collaborating with your neighbors

Grow more this gardening season by collaborating with your neighbors

Does your neighbor have more sun and tomatoes that make your mouth water? Do you grow so much zucchini each summer you give it away? Are there innovative ways to combine efforts to get the most out of nearby gardens? Collaborating with others in your neighborhood allows for a shared experience, plus shared seeds and starts.

Plan your space

Start by working with others in your neighborhood to identify planting areas you could share. Perhaps you have a large yard or a neighbor has a sunny spot across the street that could be shared garden space.

Choose your plants

Talk to your neighbors about what each of you wants to grow this season. Consider the amount of sun each space gets when you decide where to plant. Local garden stores and nurseries have handy planting and harvesting calendars to help you plan. You can learn more from vendors who sell vegetable starts at farmers markets, too.

Create a schedule

Many hands mean light work. Sharing the tasks that make your garden successful also helps build community. This includes making time to water, weed and harvest. Create a schedule so participating neighbors and families, including kids, can plan time to help.

As an added bonus, your group can more easily take vacations, attend sporting events or go on that impromptu camping trip and have peace of mind that others will care for the garden while you are away.

Share your bounty

Have more produce than you and your neighbors can handle? You can donate extra vegetables to food pantries, or consider planting a row so you can donate fresh veggies all season.

Now enjoy your shared bounty and the feeling of community that growing your own food provides.

Have gardening questions?

Contact Master Gardeners – they offer expert advice on all aspects of growing and caring for plants.

Spring neighborhood cleanups inspire reuse

Spring neighborhood cleanups inspire reuse

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon Chapter chair and Be Resourceful partner, encourages reuse at neighborhood cleanup events.

“Neighborhoods all across Portland hold cleanup events to give residents a chance to reduce waste and unwanted items from their home, basement or garage. If you’ve participated in a cleanup, you know how satisfying it feels to get rid of clutter.

Sometimes you have things that are still perfectly usable, but you don’t need them. Several nonprofit organizations around town welcome donations of household goods, furniture, appliances and building materials, both new and used. Learning about these organizations and what items they accept, and then driving to each location to make deliveries, takes time and effort. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could just bring your reusable items to your neighborhood cleanup event and drop all of this stuff off in one place? Reuse Alliance thinks so.

Building reuse communities

Reuse Alliance is a national nonprofit organization working to increase awareness of the environmental, social and economic benefits of reuse. The Oregon Chapter, based in Portland, supports Reuse Alliance’s mission locally. Seeing an opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of reuse while also putting reuse into practice, the chapter developed a pilot program to collect reusable items at two neighborhood cleanup events. With many cleanups already collecting reusable items, it seemed the perfect time to expand reuse options.

To prepare for the pilot, Reuse Alliance learned about cleanups from the experts – the coordinators who organize these events – and enlisted the assistance of some nonprofit organizations that regularly accept reusable goods in donation.

Working in partnership with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), Reuse Alliance is conducting two pilot reuse events this spring. The pilot’s goal is to increase the number of cleanups that offer reuse options going forward and to inspire cleanups that already practice reuse to expand their collection of reusable items.

Pilot program events

North Tabor and Mt Tabor neighborhood associations are hosting their event on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Mt Tabor Middle School at 5800 SE Ash St (parking lot, SE 57th Ave entrance).

Southwest Neighborhood Inc. is hosting their event for residents of all Southwest Portland neighborhood associations on Saturday, May 10, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Portland Christian Center, 5700 SW Dosch Rd.

At both events, participating nonprofit organizations Community Warehouse, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Community Cycling Center and others will collect reusable items in a centralized area, allowing residents to bring all their reusable items to one spot.

With the reuse area positioned near the event entrance, residents drop off their reusable items first. Putting reuse at the forefront of the cleanups also gives Reuse Alliance the opportunity to inform attendees about options for offloading reusable goods in the future."

Take action

If you live in one of the neighborhoods participating in the reuse pilots, bring reusable items to the eventsLearn more about Neighborhood Cleanup events in our recent post and to verify what items are accepted. Find out about Reuse Alliance and news about Oregon Chapter meetings and community involvement.

Community Supported Agriculture connects you to fresh food direct from local farmers

Community Supported Agriculture connects you to fresh food direct from local farmers

What gives you the convenience of fresh food delivered to your neighborhood, the ability to try new produce varieties that are grown for our region, supports the local economy, helps protect farmland and allows you to get to know local farmers? A CSA!

What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way to eat fresh, local food through building a relationship between a farmer and member of the community. In a CSA, households become “shareholders” or “subscribers” and provide the financial support for the season’s farming by purchasing a share of the harvest or becoming a member of the farm. Once harvesting begins, shareholders typically receive weekly shares of seasonal vegetables. Some farms also include fruit, eggs, dairy, meat and poultry. Others offer extras like flowers or honey.

How does it work?

There are many CSAs in our region. Each farm is unique and may have slightly different harvest seasons, share sizes and prices. Some farms are certified organic and some follow sustainable practices but are not certified.

Share prices vary by share size and the number of weeks in the farm’s season (often late May or June through October, though some farms specialize in year round or just winter shares). Farm websites detail what they plan to grow for a season. Most farms have systems for paying in installments rather than one lump sum and some take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. 

Once you’ve found your farm and the season begins, each week you pick up your vegetables. Different farms have different delivery methods. Some ask you to come to the farm to pick up your share (a good way to introduce kids to where food comes from), others drop off vegetables in boxes or bags at different sites around Portland, and a few will deliver to your door. To help you get the most out of your vegetables, farmers also include newsletters and recipes.

How to participate

If you want to join over 7,000 Portland-area households that are participating in a CSA farm, here’s how to get started: 

Determine if joining a CSA is right for you and your family. Do you like cooking? Vegetables? Trying new foods? Do you feel like you want to eat more vegetables but aren’t sure how to get started? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a CSA share might be a good fit.

Find the farm that works for you. A new map details CSA farm drop-off points in Portland and makes it easy for hungry (and busy) shoppers to search for farmers who deliver fresh, locally grown food to specific neighborhoods. Join a farm by contacting the farm that interests you to learn about participation and everything that entails. Pick up and enjoy your season of local food!

Get rid of clutter (and find stuff you need) at neighborhood cleanup events all over Portland

Get rid of clutter (and find stuff you need) at neighborhood cleanup events all over Portland

Spring is here, which means it’s time to clear out the clutter from your home, basement or garage!

There are nearly 50 neighborhood cleanup events scheduled throughout Portland during the spring months. Volunteers from neighborhood associations coordinate these events and have been offering more options for reuse and swapping at the events every year. Last year, 33 neighborhood cleanups incorporated onsite reuse options, allowing neighbors to take, swap or buy items immediately. 

Now in its sixth year, Trash to Treasure in North Portland is Portland’s largest swap event and is hosted as part of the St. Johns and Cathedral Park neighborhood cleanup. The daylong event includes over 5,000 items being exchanged between families at no cost.

This year’s Trash to Treasure is on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Red Sea Church, 7535 N Chicago Ave. It is open to the public, free of charge and 100 percent volunteer run. Be Resourceful will have a booth at the event so residents can learn more about resourceful living and share community resources.

This video shows how Trash to Treasure comes together and builds community. 

The seven Neighborhood Coalitions have listings of the scheduled cleanup events by neighborhood association.

Find contact information for your neighborhood association from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement or call 503-823-4519. Metro offers resources for planning a community cleanup event. Contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7202 for possible cleanup dates, locations, costs and accepted materials.