Sunnyside Swap Shop closed on August 31, 2013.

We have re-opened as Southside Swap & Play in the Woodstock neighborhood and are accepting new member families! Please visit our new website for information about membership!


“There is no end to the solutions we can find for meeting our needs while treading lightly on the planet when we come together and share the resources we have with each other.”  Karen Hery, Sunnyside Swap Shop founder

The Sunnyside Swap Shop and Play Space was the creation of Karen Hery, community builder and spoken word artist, in response to the pending forces of peak oil and global warming and the need she saw for a bigger sense of community in our lives and neighborhoods.

In June 2006, shortly after moving to the Sunnyside neighborhood in SE Portland from San Jose, Karen Hery approached Sarah Taylor, then principal of Sunnyside Environmental School, to see if she could launch her Swap Shop vision by hosting a Back-to-School Clothing Exchange at the start of the following school year. In late August 2006, the school’s gym filled up with infant to adult clothes and over 200 Sunnyside School and neighborhood families started off the school year in recycled clothing.

A presentation to the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association later that fall resulted in a successful small neighborhood grant application. The grant funded the Useful Goods Exchange held at Sunnyside Environmental School over Earth Day weekend in April 2007 where over 500 people swapped over 5000 useful items items such as clothing, toys, and household goods. Proceeds from a rummage sale at that event provided seed money to fund the marketing of the Sunnyside Family Swap Shop and Play Space.

In the spring of 2007, Karen Hery and several other community members were instrumental in the formation of the Sunnyside Community Renovation Project – a joint effort between community members and the Sunnyside United Methodist Church to renovate church space for community use including a five-room space for the Sunnyside Swap Shop and Play Space.

As founding families were being recruited for the co-op, a second Back-to-School Exchange was held at Sunnyside Environmental School in September 2007. This time, the event included backpacks, school supplies and bicycles as well as clothes.  Sunnyside Environmental School has continued to promote the Back-to-School Exchange each fall and grant money from the Small Neighborhood Grants program funded the Useful Goods Exchange on the same day as the Sunnyside Neighborhood Spring Clean Up.

The Sunnyside Family Swap Shop and Play Space opened as a fiscally sponsored project of Southeast Uplift with 85 founding families on October 1st, 2007 inside the Sunnyside Methodist Church Building at 3520 SE Yamhill Street – just across the street from Sunnyside Environmental School.  Renovations continued through the fall to complete the spaces of this swap and play environment.

Swap Shop members and church members joined for a joint potluck in November 2007 to celebrate the successful first month of this community effort which is helping to financially support and revitalize the church building as a neighborhood gathering space.   New swap shop members joined every quarter building up towards the maximum of 200 member families who shared in the cost and labor of running this co-operative place for swapping, playing, socializing and networking.

The first open houses for the Sunnyside Swap Shop’s teen venture, The Roost, were held through the summer and into the fall of 2009.  The Roost is still “a place to chill” for middle school students.  Initially started as a collaboration with Camp Fire Columbia, The Roost is now operated by the YMCA providing program staff in the space every week day that Portland Public Schools are in session.  Just above the Swap Shop’a former space inside Sunnyside Methodist Church building, 6th – 8th graders have their own space to relax as they hang out together and create community.

In 2010, the Sunnyside Swap Shop Co-op became a sustainability project of Windward which grants non-profit status to the co-op. This created a rural/urban partnership between the co-op and Windward’s sustainability research center on the high plateau in southern Washington off the Klickitat River.  Animals from Windward such as bunnies and lambs visited the co-op’s backyard play area throughout the spring, summer and fall.

In the fall of 2012, OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, opened its Clever Together exhibit with a Local Voices, Clever Choices web link featuring the Sunnyside Swap Shop’s contribution to sustainability in the Portland Area.

By 2012, three other swap and play communities in St. John’s, NE Portland and Gresham were providing indoor and outdoor play and trade spaces for young families.

In the spring of 2013, right around the same time that that Karen was stepping down at the Sunnyside Swap Shop Co-op facilitator and Ellen Zientek was hired as the second co-op director, Sunnyside Methodist Church board of trustees voted to end the Sunnyside Swap Shop Co-op’s use of church space by the end of August.

Rather than end the co-op,   Ellen Zientek renamed the co-op Southside Swap and Play and moved into the Woodstock neighborhood which, at the time of the move, was experiencing the same kind of rapid influx of young families that was taking place when the Sunnyside Swap Shop Co-op first opened in the Sunnyside neighborhood.  The partnership between Windward and the Sunnyside Swap Shop LLC that provides non-profit status to the co-op continues.

The Back-to-School Clothing Exchange continues as an event of the Sunnyside Environmental School and the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association holds the option of hosting the Sunnyside Swap and Spring Clean Up – the combined event that the Useful Goods Exchange became a part of in 2011.

The Know Your Neighbor funding that began as a source of scholarship funding for the operation of The Roost continues as the Know Your Neighbor Foundation through the Charitable Partnership Fund.