Brattleboro Needs a Repair Cafe! Who Wants to Start One?

Wonderful article in the New York Times about this movement that began in the Netherlands.

 AMSTERDAM — An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer
took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers
and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies
circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase
and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No
World Twitter Logo.

At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe,
an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a
former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month,
people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by
volunteers who just like to fix things.

Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where
neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend
holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum
cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing
machine and an orange juice press. 

Check out the Repair Cafe website for more information on this movement.

There is also a Fixers Collective started in New York City.  A article says more about the Repair Cafes and Fixer Collectives:

Tamara Pittman, a cofounder of Fixers Collective, called the project
“a reaction to the economic downturn that had just happened.”

But the Collective has thrived in (slightly) better economic times.
Typically, its monthly meetings attract 10 to 15 visitors with broken

Pittman said that over the years, finding skilled fixers to staff the
meetings hasn’t been a problem. “More people come in who are good at
fixing things than people who have something to fix,” she explained.
Different regulars have different areas of expertise, with electronics,
computers, sewing, and woodworking all covered.

Minneapolis’ Fix-It Clinic operates on the same premise:

At Fix-It Clinics, residents bring in small household appliances,
clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more and receive free guided
assistance from a volunteer with repair skills to disassemble,
troubleshoot and fix their item. Fix-It Clinics reduce the amount of
stuff that gets thrown in the trash, teach valuable troubleshooting and
basic repair skills, and build community connections. Volunteer fixers
are needed! Volunteers have skills in soldering, electronics and
electrical repair, computer repair, sewing and general tinkering, and
have a strong desire to teach and empower people.

What do you think, Brattleboro?  Are there any sustainability-minded, community-oriented, tinkerer-fixers out there who would be willing to see if this would fly in our area?  Please consider it and keep us posted!

Comments | 6

  • Brattleboro needs a repair, period

    And a repair cafe, too!

  • great idea

    In college I worked for an audio technician. He’d buy broken and used equipment of all sorts at auction. Part of my job was to take it all apart and put it into parts bins. I’d take out screws, nuts, washers, diodes, resistors, belts… anything that could be used.

    The technician I worked with would then build new things from the old parts. He could make anything, too.

  • reduce production, first.

    One way I have dealt with automatic drip coffee makers, which are made of plastic housing and which inevitably stop working, is that I started making coffee with a vintage Pyrex coffee carafe and paper filter. Makes the best coffee possible, takes no more time to heat water on the stove than it does in an electric coffee maker, and reduces the amount of plastic produced and wasted (by one anyway). Once the coffee is made, I keep it warm on a vintage hot plate. All about recycling stuff and reducing plastic production and waste. Yay!

    • Remember Mr. Tea?

      Father Guido Sarducci once did an ad for “Mr. Tea” – a machine to make tea. Just put a cup with a teabag at the bottom, and pour boiling water into the top… only $29.95. : )

      A lot of the older appliances work much better than newer ones. Keeping pre-1980’s electronics working usually isn’t too difficult, and one is typically rewarded with something that works quite well. I’d buy a refurbished toaster from a repair cafe.

  • shoes please!!!

    It would be so cool to have some place to bring shoes for repair! New soles! New heels!

  • Question for the Steam(punk)Room

    Humans and tools. Like Astaire and Rodgers, Bevis and Butthead, Krazy Kat and Ignatz- inseparable partners, one without the other almost unthinkable.

    In the hundreds of thousand of years- going from wood and stone to steel and plastic it was all still a game of substance. Then at some point the digerati took over.

    Now nobody can have complete specialization or know-how to fix the flood of all gadgetry that surrounds us.

    Not so long ago though this was not the case. A handywoman, or a mason or a cro-mag could pretty much master the toolkit.

    My question; Did we jump the shark going from mechanics to a quantum and binary world?

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