Green Lents builds community through borrowing and sharing


Are you a resident of one of these Portland neighborhoods: Lents, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Pleasant Valley, Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Brentwood-Darlington or Montavilla? Do you know of the many reasons to visit Green Lents, the organization that supports community-led projects like the free Community Tool Library?

Green Lents Community Tool Library contributes to community livability in this diverse area of the city by providing free tools and resources to residents in and around the Lents neighborhood in outer Southeast and East Portland.

The Community Tool Library functions like a book library, except that you check out tools or other project materials instead of books. They also have a seed library, where you can borrow seeds, grow food and then return seeds back to the library for others to use. Since its founding in 2012, there are over 500 members who check out tools for a one-week rental for free, with the option of renewal. It is open two days a week and is volunteer run.

One volunteer, Renee Orlick, started as a user of the Community Tool Library. When she moved to Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood in 2013, she was able to borrow a tall ladder from the library to harvest the fruit trees she had throughout her yard. Around this time, Renee started volunteering and has since joined the organization’s board. Her main goal is to make the library as functional as possible including checking tool donations into the system so members can use them.

The community based nonprofit, Green Lents, offers even more for residents. There are two fellows, April Jamison and Izzy Armenta, who work with the organization as volunteer engagement coordinators for all four of their projects. April works on Community Tool Library, Malden Court Community Orchard and Pollinator Habitat, while Izzy works on Livable Lents.

Since education, skill building and sharing all promote a thriving, sustainable community, April and Izzy want to combine these into actions to share with neighbors, build community and grow knowledge.

They have ideas, like offering a summer DIY workshop series with the tool library, and are already conducting a survey with Livable Lents so they can hear from residents about their visions and needs for the community.

"What I like best about this organization is that it's a community asset that has been built by the community, for all of our neighbors. The dedication to sharing and growing strong together is really inspiring," said April.  

The organization looks for volunteers and those in the community who are interested in participating from the ground up, with ideas to grow within the established network. One such idea is about volunteers themselves. “Green Lents, like so many nonprofit organizations, rely on volunteers so we have defined a commitment where members can volunteer for two-to-four hours a month for six months. It’s working and we would like to see the involvement continue,” said April.

Visit the free Community Tool Library to borrow what you need and get involved with Green Lents to share ways to make a difference in your neighborhood.

Portland residents can access tool libraries around the city, based on where you live. Check out the North, Northeast or Southeast resources to learn more.