As affordable space to live and work becomes scarce in Portland’s inner neighborhoods, higher rents are forcing many people and organizations to move further out. As this trend continues, Portland Autonomous Zone (PAZ), a member-supported space for making and fixing things — especially bike-inspired things — is struggling to hold onto their space at SE 16th and Woodward.
PAZ was founded by Brian Smith in 2013 with a “focus on bike fun and DIY sub-culture.” Smith, who likens PAZ to “an Eagles Lodge, but with a focus on DIY tinkering and bikes,” is a regular in the Portland bike scene and can often be found astride his tall bike. He’s also a computer and audio expert who loves tinkering with mobile sound systems and once dreamed of a tall-bike powered tour with his punk band. Smith has kept PAZ alive for the past four years by pouring his heart (and sometimes his own money) into it. He has also worked to recruit new members, whose monthly rents help pay for the space.