By Jenny Lindsay
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than supporting community-led sustainability efforts in my area. I joined the crew of the Melbourne Repair Café (Inner West) for a pop-up repair session at the Hobsons Bay City Council’s World Environment Day Community Festival in Williamstown last weekend.
Some folk came along prepared with their broken household items, while others were pleased to learn what a Repair Café does.
Brain-busting troubleshooting tested the skills of our fixers on an array of broken and tired appliances and tools. There was an eager queue awaiting their turn and all the visitors were good sports about taking their place in a busy line-up. We took on a surprising amount of fixes in the 2-hour session.
One terrific piece was a 1970’s era desktop fan, which had been no more than a table ornament for over 30 years, according to its owner. It turned out the switch mechanism was in need of some repair which was swiftly fixed. Then, although a little sluggish after decades unused, the fan came back to life. Hurrah! Another fix, another item saved from landfill, and a treasured family piece with a second life.
Photos by Michelle Fisher
Often, the items we see at the Repair Café are designed not to be opened. They’re either glued together or have proprietary screw heads for expensive manufacturer’s servicing only. So, having a kettle that came apart easily was a bonus. The screws were all a standard type and were easily located. All parts were accessible. It was fairly straightforward then to discover the pesky problem and clear out the pipe to the steam switch so that it could be brought back into use, saved from a trip to landfill and avoiding expensive replacement.
We were delighted to take up Hobson’s Bay City Council’s invitation to co-locate with the World Environment Day Community Festival. Visitors enjoyed the festival before or after stopping by our pop-up Repair Café. When you visit us at the Yarraville Community Centre, there’s also plenty to see. During a busy session, the small wait for a fixer to be available gives you time for a coffee or tea and to check out the (small, but growing) Really Really Free Market. You can watch the other repairs underway, then take a seat, because the fun of a Repair Café session is learning how to repair or pull your item apart and trouble-shoot for next time.
Many visitors were fascinated to see a Repair Café in operation, among many cries of “I’ll have to bring in all my broken things”. It’s clear so many of us hang on to items which might be saved, but we’re not ready to find a fix or bid farewell to it either way. A Repair Café run by skilled volunteers is a handy solution, then, and we’re anticipating a lot more visitors next session.
A job well done, said one of our fixers: “We made people happy and got paid in mandarins.”
If you’re keen to get your “fix”, check out the next Melbourne Repair Café session on our website: http://www.melbournerepaircafe.org/
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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.