By Ted Reiff

There's a worldwide "repair movement" underway. That's a fact I didn't know until very recently, when a reader sent me several news articles that describe various aspects of the movement.

More Space = More Great Materials

As you probably know, the TRP home office and retail warehouse are located on a large piece of Oakland real estate owned by St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP). For the past 10 years we have shared that space with Habitat for Humanity's East Bay ReStore and St. Vincent de Paul's Oakland thrift store and corporate office.

While TRP has successfully expanded the practice of deconstruction across the entire spectrum of residential construction, we have had little impact on the commercial world. I've done some research in the area, and TRP has completed a few light commercial projects, but I still struggle with the logistical and technical aspects of developing the commercial sector.

Individuals and organizations in the reuse business must decide what types of materials to stock, use and sell. For example, wood-working crafters focus on lumber—anything from logs and beams to barn siding. Sculptors often use salvaged metal, while other artists incorporate vintage glass, wood, fabric and discarded objects in their works.

By Ted Reiff

Our 2016 National Reuse Contest was a big success. Hundreds of entries were submitted to TRP partner warehouses and other reuse outlets around the country. As usual, first, second and third-place local winners were selected at each location, and three independent judges chose the national winners from that pool, with awards in both the Art & Furniture and Construction & Remodeling categories.

By Ted Reiff

I get a kick out of those holiday letters (more like year-end bulletins) that people send out in December and January. They invariably herald astonishingly, enviably good news ("Sally was promoted to senior VP… Ralph became engaged to a partner in his law firm… pet pig Clementine gave birth to six of the cutest babies ever.").

By Ted Reiff

People frequently send me news items on deconstruction and reuse-related topics. One recent article from The New York Times features the late sculptor J.B. Blunk and the home he built entirely of salvaged materials in the rural Marin County town of Inverness, California. Blunk, who started his artistic career as a potter before shifting to primarily wood, favored "found" materials, such as beached logs or discarded lumber from construction sites. Redwood was Blunk's favorite medium, not only for his hand-crafted home, but for the large "seating sculptures" that became his trademark.

By Ted Reiff

Years ago, in order to keep abreast of news dealing with deconstruction, building-materials salvage, adaptive reuse and historic preservation, I subscribed to several Google alerts, one of which was "deconstruction." Almost immediately, I started receiving links to content dealing with the term deconstruction as used in contemporary philosophy and social science — a usage popularized by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

By Ted Reiff

The community public library is such a core institution, I've always pictured it inhabiting a niche of its own. I certainly never saw it as a hub of reuse. But, you know what? That's exactly what it is. Libraries have been in the book reuse business literally for centuries. And most have added e-books and audio versions to the mix.


With the Labor Day weekend approaching (though long gone by the time you read this) I want to focus on TRP's exemplary workers.

Reused building materials are all around us, but we don't often fully appreciate the complex backstory of what we're seeing.


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