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.
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!