Exploring A Repair Café

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There is a myriad of ways that we can pitch in to help the environment and thus ease the pressure on Mother Earth. As an example, one group of dedicated volunteers has decided to start a Repair Café in The Gap (a suburb in Brisbane’s inner northwest). I went along to check it out, had coffee, heard some fascinating stories, and introduced the repairers to my red Tesla Model 3.

Like many great volunteer enterprises, the Repair Café in The Gap started with a conversation, in this case initiated by Kirsty Augustine. “Having grown up poor and needing to look after what we had, I am big supporter of repairing and maintaining one’s items. I am vehemently opposed to planned obsolescence. Having seen other repair cafés pop up around Brisbane, I posted on our local Facebook group to see if there was any interest to start one in The Gap.”

Several locals responded to the call. Repair Café The Gap’s steering committee — involving Ann Edwards, Erin De Brincat, Julie Delaforce, Kirsty Augustine, and Padma Lal — is a powerhouse of talented people collaborating to help community members reduce the number of good, repairable items being tossed away into the local landfill — one repair at a time.

The Repair Café concept arose in Amsterdam in 2009. It has led to the formation of thousands of repair cafés throughout the world. In Australia, we have over 70 repair cafés, and growing.

In a way, it reminded me of pictures of Santa’s workshop. There were six volunteer repairers bent over their tasks in a wooden scout hut surrounded by parkland. Outside the hut, people sat with their “patients,” awaiting their turn. There were broken toasters, lamps, and stereo equipment, to name but a few items I saw. The volunteer repairers included a seamstress, a qualified electrician, a bicycle repairer, and several general handymen.

Toss it, no way
Repair Café in The Gap, Australia. Photo by David Waterworth/CleanTechnica.

I watched as Leanne had her grandfather’s garden fork repaired. A new handle was fitted. So much history — the fork had been passed from grandfather, to father, and now to Leanne. She said that when she uses it, she feels connected to family history and that she is doing something good for the environment. With a new handle, it should last another 90 years. Leanne is a professor of law at Griffith University and has played a large role in the design and implementation of right-to-repair laws for Australian farmers.

Amanda the seamstress was sewing, and told me of the value of activities like the repair café to keep you active, mentally and physically. She also told me of her work as an infection control nurse.

Toss it, no way
Volunteers at Repair Café in The Gap, Australia. Photo by David Waterworth/CleanTechnica.

A 1920s clock was being repaired at another bench. It had fallen over, and some of the wooden fretwork needed replacing. It was run by a winding key and had been bought at a garage sale for $40. Not a valuable antique, but “I don’t believe in throwing things away,” the owner said.

Toss it no way
Fitting the new handle to a historic fork. Photo by David Waterworth/CleanTechnica.

Several people went for a look at our Tesla and we discussed the possibility of an electric vehicle expo in The Gap area.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 719 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth