There's an organization in Missoula, Montana, the Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation, that runs a community bike shop -- you can get parts there, learn how to repair your bike, find the tools you need, etc.
They also have a program where if you go in and learn how to maintain a bike and do all the work yourself, you can build your own bike (from the parts they have) for free. All you owe them is sweat equity.
Is there anything even remotely like that in the Washington, DC, region -- DC or Maryland preferred, but even in Virginia might be worth it.
It's possible that Missoula is exceptionally cool in this regard (as it is in about a million others, including that there's a river through the city that's so clean you can fly fish in it). But it's also possible that this is a concept that exists in other places.
Thanks so much for any help you can give!