Kitchen Share is a network of kitchen tool libraries building community through the sharing of equipment, skills, traditions and food. They offer dehydrators, canning equipment, ice cream makers, juicers, mixers, bread makers, durable dishes and more.
On a recent Saturday, Alicia Polacok, from Be Resourceful partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by Kitchen Share Southeast. Founder Robin Koch was volunteering that day, and Alicia had the opportunity to talk with her about her project.
When Robin Koch started Kitchen Share Southeast in August 2012, she modeled it on the Southeast Portland Tool Library and wanted it to be a combination of their model for borrowing tools, along with other organizations that were popping up around Portland that are part of the sharing community.
Brentwood-Darlington resident Emily Jameson has been a member since 2013 and stopped by that Saturday to borrow a juicer. Emily was looking to try juicing for the first time. Instead of buying an expensive piece of equipment that takes up more room in her kitchen, she borrowed the juicer to give it a try and see if she liked it.
This is what Robin is striving for – to provide a service where borrowing and sharing items is common and where the benefits include less of an environmental and financial impact around consumption.
Kitchen Share Southeast has close to 300 members and over 200 items available to borrow. Robin said residents often donate items when combining households with another person, removing unused items when moving or assisting aging parents when they shift into retirement homes.
More recently, Robin got involved with a group in Northeast Portland who was interested in bringing a kitchen share to their neighborhoods as well. There was a decision between the groups to pull some resources, including a website, and offer support to what is now Kitchen Share Northeast. It opened in August 2013 and is housed in the same space as the Northeast Portland Tool Library. Both kitchen shares and tool libraries lease space from churches.
These community resources are membership-based and have limited hours due to the grassroots, volunteer nature of the organizations. An ongoing step is recruiting neighbors and members to get involved so the organization can staff more hours and make it easier to use the library. Robin said it the libraries would be much improved if they could be open more hours.
Do you have kitchen items you no longer use? Are you interested in building community through events such as do-it-yourself classes on cooking and food preservation?
This video captures what Kitchen Share Southeast is and how it works. Check it out and get involved.
Another local organization where residents can become members and borrow kitchen items is the Home Goods Library in Southeast Portland.