Yesterday I blogged about ‘having’ to buy a new Mac charger. When a piece of clothing loses it’s life I can usually figure out what needs to be mended and how, but when it comes to electronics I have no idea! When looking at my broken charger there was no clue to as to what might be wrong. And even if I did have an understanding of circuit boards, getting into the screwless thing is a mission in itself (see ‘Right to repair’ ‘a series of proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend’).
After my blog yesterday, my sisters and I discussed what could be done to prevent our electronics being shipped to illegal dumpsites in the developing world. My sister told me about Repair Cafe in Leeds and after I looked into it I’ve discovered there are 1,500 worldwide;
‘Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.
Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.’
I also follow The Restart Project on Instagram which has a similar set-up:
The Restart Project helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics, and rethink how they consume them in the first place.
We run regular Restart Parties where people teach each other how to repair their broken and slow devices – from tablets to toasters, from iPhones to headphones. We maintain a network of groups like ours - some use different names but we all host the same kind of events.
We call ours parties because they have a fun, ad-hoc spirit where all are welcome to meet, mingle, and share in the fun of repair.
Empowering people to fix their own stuff!
Despite loving electronics visually, I have no idea how anything works. A circuit board is a complete mystery. I remember getting monotonous headaches because I didn’t understand Electronics in year 7-9 (but oh! the soldering iron was a highlight!). What I particularly like about The Repair Cafe and The Restart Project is that they create a community where the expectation is that you will learn from each other (from their mission statement and reviews- I’ve never been!).
The Restart Project also runs sessions in schools!
The programme is designed to help students develop hard repair skills – such as disassembly, reassembly, and manual dexterity – at the same time as transferrable skills like teamwork and creative problem-solving.
If anyone has been to one of these events I would love to hear about your experience.