By Jenny Lindsay and Michelle Fisher
From the young to the young-at-heart, a community of fixers and visitors grew throughout these 3 years of the Melbourne Repair Café’s time in the Inner West.
Repairs replenish community spirit
Based at the Yarraville Community Centre in Francis Street, the Repair Cafe is a place people come to connect over a cuppa, to share skills and learn to DIY your own repairs (for free!). Volunteers are keen and capable to help rescue items which would otherwise be thrown away, helping people mend everything from toys and toasters to clocks and clothing.
Driving awareness about sustainability, and building practical capacity to reduce waste, starts with our local community. We thank our wonderful hosts, Yarraville Community Centre for facilitating the meeting space every month since our inaugural year in 2016 and supporting this volunteer-led initiative!
Contributing to a connected community
This year we loved having the Footscray Community Bike Shed hold a guest fixing spot at our session for International Repair Café week. We attended the World Environment Day Community Festival at Williamstown to showcase some of our fixing skills and enjoyed engaging Hobsons Bay locals in our Repair Café activities. At the inaugural Zero Waste Festival, we organised for Repair Cafe Coordinators from around Victoria to participate on a panel discussion and we shared our experience of what goes into setting up and running repair sessions. The many stallholders also gave us a glimpse of how to make small lifestyle changes to minimise consumption and waste.
What’s the future for the Repair Cafe?
In 2019, we’ll continue to support new and emerging repair cafes to set up across Melbourne, regional Victoria and further afield by sharing our knowledge and resources. We’re looking to increase collaborations with local community groups and local businesses and trades. If you’d like to come along and share some skills or have other ideas that align with what we’re about, shoot us an email with details of your group, trade or business and your availability to participate.
We meet on the 2nd Sunday of every month, and you’d be welcome to join us with a skillshare or to host morning tea. If you have services to support us (say making banners or printing); can provide parts, tools or supplies (eg sewing notions, soldering iron, compressed air); or can up/down-cycle things we’re unable to fix, we’d love to hear from you as well!
This year, some of the fixers are teaming up with other community-building, waste-reducing folk in the West to pilot Sharing Shed Melbourne which will combine the repair cafe with a library of things and invite local “everyday experts” to share their knowledge and expertise about how to use the things we stock - from how to set up a campsite to using a dehydrator. If you want to join us or simply follow our journey, subscribe to our mailing list at http://sharingshedmelbourne.org.au. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram - just search for SharingShed Melbourne!
Want to know more about Repair Cafes?
Our fixers are volunteers, generously contributing their time and skills to help fix their neighbours’ broken items. Knowledge is shared, skills are passed on, and items are saved from being thrown into landfill.
Visitors to the Repair Café receive more than just a few tips for how to sew up a patch or check the connections in their electronics - their valuable items get a second chance at life. People are thrilled to leave us with their treasured pieces brought back into use.
In our young curious visitors, the trouble-shooting genes are strong - as they delight in watching the fixing activities going on in the space. Some fixers bring their growing children along, to pass on the craft to the next generation on the spot.
If you’re inspired to become part of the Repair Cafe movement, head to http://www.melbournerepaircafe.org/ for information on how to get involved or join our facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/melbournerepaircafe/. Our free monthly repair sessions run on every 2nd Sunday of the month from 10am until 1pm.
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.