Neighbors gain money-saving information Portland ‘Fix-it Fair’

If you missed the previous one – take a look!  See where and when you can attend the season’s last Portland ‘Fix-it Fair’ – for good advice, and a free lunch, too …

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staffers Spencer Williams and Lauren Norris help Chelsie Vega find her way around the season’s previous “Fix-it Fair”, held at Madison High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This season’s first “Fix-it Fair”, held at Madison High School in November, is a distant memory.

But, there’s a second chance for those in outer East Portland to attend the second and final of these free events, coming up on February 23 [read on for event information] – and to take advantage of the many free workshops and exhibits to help folks save money and live healthy that are provided at these events, underwritten by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS).

Representatives from 70 agencies, bureaus, and nonprofit organizations share information and gave away samples to people at the previous Madison High Fix-it Fair.

BPS intern Kat Fiedler checks with event organizer BPS Sustainability Outreach Coordinator Desiree Williams-Rajee.

“The Fix-it Fairs offer free and reduced-cost community resources and information,” remarked its organizer, BPS Sustainability Outreach Coordinator Desiree Williams-Rajee, at her last such event before moving on to become the Equity Specialist for the Bureau.

“At each Fix-It Fair, we have about 35 workshops on a wide variety of topics,” Williams-Rajee told East Portland News. “People can learn about weatherizing their home, how to save on energy bills, and on their water bills too. There are also classes that show how to live a more healthy life, and which teach the basics of nutrition. At many of the events, like this one, people can also get free minor bicycle repairs.”

“Healthy Homes” is the topic of this class, provided by the Oregon Environmental Council.

In total, Williams-Rajee pointed out, as many as 70 agencies, bureaus, and nonprofit organizations come to share information. “All of them are here to serve the residents of Portland. It’s kind of a one-stop-shop of community resources.”

The end result, Williams-Rajee observed, is that people get the resources to live better. “We are connecting people to information they need, and the services that are available to them within the City.”

Sam Pastrick and Sherrie Smith of the Community Energy Project give away hot-water insulation kits at the fair.

The events are typically held in high schools, Williams-Rajee explained, because it makes the Fix-it Fairs easily accessible to neighbors in the area.

“These events also help to ‘outreach’ our staff people with the nonprofit organizations and agencies, to communicate and connect with populations they are not able to do on a regular basis.”

Volunteer sophomore Madison High School “Senator” Sharon Fung serves lunches to guests.

Along with about twenty staff members from BPS, about 25 volunteers – many of them Madison High students – also help to make the day-long events run smoothly.

“And, please send my big ‘thank you’ to Katie Lauderdale, SUN School coordinator at Madison,” tagged Williams-Rajee, as she sped off to help an exhibitor.

Josh Capps, a Portland State University a graduate student who works with their Transportation Options Bike Hub student bike store – and a PBOT Bicycle Ambassador – tunes up the brakes on this bike.

Fix-it Fair comes to Ron Russell on February 23
From 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., mid-County folks can take advantage of FREE workshops and exhibits, offered by numerous community partners – and an extensive schedule of workshops held throughout the day.

Experts will be available to talk, one-on-one, with attendees about water and energy savings, home and personal health, food and nutrition, community resources, recycling and yard care, blood lead testing, bike tune-ups, and more.

BPS staffers Lauren Norris, Desiree Williams-Rajee, Jill Kolek, Alicia Polacok and Wing Grabowski get together for this photo at the last Fix-It Fair that Williams-Rajee will host.

Even more, there’s free professional childcare, lunch, and hourly raffle prizes. They ask you bring your own “reusable bag” to gather resources and giveaways from the exhibits and classes. For more information, contact fixitfair@portlandoregon.gov, or call (503) 823-4309.

> Ron Russell Middle School is located at 3955 SE 112th Avenue – between SE Holgate  and SE Powell Boulevards.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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