By Jenny Lindsay
It’s such a pain to organise repairs, isn’t it? Just looking at the tool that just died, or the torn bag, or vacuum that no longer sucks – well, it all just sucks!
Many of us just have no idea where to start, other than Googling a repairer or the manufacturer, and the cost is just not something we want to deal with right now. Alternatives take time to search for. So, that thing gets pushed back into the cupboard for one day when you’ve got time to tackle that job.
“If only I knew someone who could take a look at this for me.”
The solution might be right next door
Your local Repair Café could be the solution you’re after. And yet, it’s a mysterious adventure for visitors who are experiencing the operation for the first time.
“Um, I saw you guys were open, I’ve just brought this in, not sure if you could do anything about it…”
Well, you never know, we’ll take a look at it and see what we can do!
We recently celebrated International Repair Café Week with the Footscray Community Bike Shed as our guest fixers.
All of a sudden our volunteers realised this was a golden opportunity.
Fiona said “I’ve been meaning to get someone to look at my bike”
Our Fearless Leader (Founder and Coordinator) Michelle said “I’ve got this thing on my bike I need to get looked at…”
How lucky to have bike repairer Dave to the rescue. He clearly didn’t know what he was in for when he offered to join our session!
It’s the conversations at the desk that can prompt a friendly offer from a neighbouring fixer. Or even another visitor!
During one memorable session, a sewing machine in for repair caught the eye of one of our visitors. She’d initially brought in a home appliance for repair. A keen sewer herself, she offered to take a look at the sewing machine that was on the fritz. That was one way to make best use of her time while her item was being fixed.
Then, two of our visitors who were handy with a needle and thread, soon moved to the other side of the desk to lend their skills. That was a life-saver as we had more sewing repairs than we could handle that day.
By becoming fixers and helping out other visitors, the visitors, too, had the chance to connect and chat with others who had come in for a bit of help to rescue some broken, worn or torn gear.
Have those conversations with your neighbours – you never know what superpower they’re hiding. Something truly special happens in the exchange of skills, experience and goodwill at our local Repair Café.
By Jenny Lindsay
It’s time to get that old broken “thing” out of the back of the cupboard or shed or wherever you’ve stashed it. We’ve got the best reason to take action, because 13-21 October 2018 is International Repair Café Week.
An experience becomes a movement
“On Thursday 18 October it was nine years ago that Martine Postma organised the very first Repair Café. On this day in 2009, dozens of residents brought their broken items to a theatre in Amsterdam. Now there are over 1,600 Repair Cafés in 33 countries, spread across six continents.” - International Repair Café Foundation
Martine might be surprised at how the Repair Café movement has taken off. Her commitment to sustainability at a local level inspired a model for bringing communities together to enjoy all the benefits of the Repair Café experience.
Learn while reclaiming lost items
The volunteer “fixers” who attend the Repair Café bring a wealth of knowledge to share with visitors. Some come from mechanical engineering or trades backgrounds, textiles expertise or trained jewellery-makers, for example. Yet others have accumulated years of practice in trouble-shooting and repairing their own things. They have a curious nature and love the sense of achievement when that niggling fault has been found and fixed.
While practising their skills, they love to show and teach others about the fixing process, from testing all the “likely suspects” of a fault, to pulling things completely apart.
One of our favourite fixes was from a visitor who’d scored a classic record turntable second-hand, but the needle was playing up. Taking the item apart revealed the previous owner, a DJ, had modified the needle arm with a bit of sticky tape. Problem solved - which was music to our visitor’s ears!
Share the experience with others in your community
We are thrilled to get enthusiastic feedback, like:
“Loved the chats with other attendees while I was in the queue!”
One of the powerful impacts of the Repair Café in the community is bringing people together. We’re proud to promote the International Repair Café Foundation goal:
“The Repair Café Foundation wants to make repair a part of the local community once again. It aims to maintain and spread repair expertise, and to promote social cohesion by bringing together neighbours from all walks of life and sets of motivations in the form of inspiring and accessible meetings.”
When visitors hang around for a while, observing other fixes after theirs is finished, we know we have something more than a repair service. It’s not just about reclaiming useful or much-loved items - it’s making connections with neighbours that keeps visitors coming back.
Find a Repair Café near you during this International Repair Café Week 13-21 October and check out what all the fixing fuss is about.
The next session of Melbourne Repair Café (Inner West) is Sunday 14 October 2018. Come along and join us to mark International Repair Cafe Week!
(We run the second Sunday of each month from 10am – 1pm at the Yarraville Community Centre, 59 Francis St Yarraville)
Michelle Fisher is the founder and coordinator of the Melbourne Repair Cafe (Inner West). She is more comfortable wielding pens than tools and welcomes contributions from those who can wield one or the other or both! Please send submissions to the Melbourne Repair Cafe's email address..
Jenny Lindsay is a seeker of sustainable lifestyle solutions who regularly helps out on the Repair Café registration desk. Jenny is the founder of Connectjen virtual assistant which offers copywriting, marketing and admin support for businesses committed to challenging the status quo.