Fix Your Stuff, Make Friends at Repair Cafe and Fixers Collective
Yesterday we talked about Maui Jim, an eyewear company that provides cheap and swift repairs for their products. While corporate fixery is great–and hopefully, one day, will be expected–many people are taking repair into their own hands.
The other day, the NY Times profiled some of those people–Dutch people to be precise–who hold informal gatherings a couple times a month to fix their broken stuff. According to the article, the “Repair Cafe” started 2 1/2 year ago as a way to reduce waste. In that time, it has grown considerably, having raised $525,000 from a state grant and other contributions; they bought a Repair Cafe bus and have started cafes across the country–sorta like Fight Club, but fixing stuff instead of fighting and not secret and…not similar at all.
All repairs are done by volunteers for free.
On this side of the pond, the Fixers Collective in Brooklyn, NY has been fixing stuff for a few years. They don’t have a foundation or a bus, but they do meet and fix stuff. What’s cool about FC is that they have a hierarchy of fixers, beginning with Master Fixers (your MacGyver types), apprentices and drop-in visitors–each teaching the other the fixing ropes.
Their site descibes their philosophy this way:
The Fixers’ Collective seeks to displace cultural patterns that alienate us from our things, by collectively learning the skills and patience necessary to care for them. Intentionally aligning itself with forces generated in reaction to the current economic crisis, the Fixers’ Collective promotes a counter-ethos that values functionality, simplicity, and ingenuity and that respects age, persistence and adequacy.
And you just wanted to sew a patch in your jeans.
Beyond fixing, waste reduction and connecting with the means-of-production, both groups emphasize the social aspect that comes about while learning how to fix stuff. People hang out, have a coffee or a beer and get to know one another while they repair. Conversely, throwing stuff away does little for one’s interpersonal skills.
While we know you like new stuff for making the ideal edited life, 9 times out of 10, your existing stuff is perfectly good. But that stuff will eventually break, and when it does, before you go out and buy a cheap replacement, consider fixing. Check to see if there’s a fixer group in your area or consider starting one. Your wallet, planet and emotional well-being will thank you.
Thanks for tip Karen