Repair Café is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire sustainability at the local level by encouraging people to organize Repair Café events in their area. In more than 29 countries, over 1,150 cafes offer free services to residents that want to fix their broken belongings, including electronics, bicycles, clothing, and housekeeping devices. This not only reduces waste in landfills, but builds a healthy sense of community that allows participants to learn new skills, build their resourcefulness, and make new friends.The name is the property of a seven year old European company headquartered in Amsterdam, but they're pushing the idea as something akin to Makerspaces. A Makerspace is a place where people gather to share tools, teach each other, learn from each other, and generally learn how to build things as their hobby. Sometimes, it's to start a business. In a repair cafe', people get together with folks who help them repair things; sew clothes, fix electronics, make jewelry, a whole host of things. Unlike the Makerspace, the Repair Café emphasis is for specialists and resident repair experts to volunteer their time and skills so they can fix things that fit their skill sets and available resources. It seems to be all about getting things fixed more than learning how to fix things, but it seems that the nature of fixing things is that they break unexpectedly and when you need it, you need it. You don't think very much about your coffee maker when it's working, but when it stops, you want coffee. Perhaps that's the reasonable way to approach this.
To encourage new launches across the world, Repair Café offers a starter pack, which includes a manual with the plans for organizing Repair Cafés from the ground up. The content is based on tactics used by Café founders in the past, and discusses ways to find local repair experts, book locations for events, determine which tools to supply, and find funding. The starter pack also guarantees that the organization will contact other interested parties in the area so that communities can work together to curate events. It will also advertise the initiative through the Repair Café network. Donations to support local groups and to fund missions abroad can be submitted through the Repair Café’s website for any specified area.Repair Café in Charlotteville, Virginia, from Machine Design.
In places as different as Portland, Oregon, the Netherlands, Ghana, Belgium, and more these Repair Cafes are starting up. An interesting development.