Loyalist College has teamed up with community partners, Quinte Waste Solutions and Bay of Quinte Region, to host the area’s first Repair Café on Saturday, October 25 from noon to 4 pm at the Core Arts and Culture Centre in downtown Belleville. People can bring their broken or damaged household items to the Café and fix them, free of charge, with the help of a local repair guru.
The “waste not, want not” adage of yesteryear has been replaced with a take-make-dispose culture, in which it is often cheaper and easier to simply buy new rather than have items repaired. To change this, repair cafés were initiated in the Netherlands about five years ago. They are part of a wider movement to help us see value in the products we throw away, think about the resources we waste, the skills we are losing, and the community we often take for granted.
These are the goals of the Quinte Repair Café, replicating the success of similar repair cafés in Toronto, Calgary, and Peterborough. By repairing our items, we give them new life, develop our own skills and come to appreciate the valuable resources that go into the production of everyday items. This awareness and knowledge may lead us to think twice before we throw away a broken chair, lamp or laptop.
Luckily for us, there is a wealth of knowledge and skill within our community waiting to be tapped. Hobbyists, professional repair specialists and Loyalist faculty have all volunteered their time to be fixers at the event, eager to share their tips and tricks.
Chuck Barsony, Professor of Architecture at Loyalist College, will be lending a hand with small appliance repairs (think toasters and blenders) and general carpentry. His interest in repair started early in life.
“My grandparents came to Canada during the ‘Dirty Thirties’ and were of the mind that when something breaks, you don’t throw it out, you try to fix it first,” says Chuck. “They ingrained that in me. We have made it far too easy to simply throw things out and that’s a horrific waste of materials. The architect in me also looks at it from an environmental standpoint: each item took energy and materials to produce and we must try to get as much use out of those resources as possible.”
Loyalist’s Sustainability Coordinator and co-organizer of the event, Becky MacWhirter, hopes the Café will engage people in conversations about waste while also creating new connections in the community. “What’s great about the Repair Café is that it brings people together from so many different backgrounds and walks of life. We tend to forget about the power of community and collaboration. It’s amazing what you learn by getting out there and speaking to people. This event is practical in nature but you walk away with so much more than a repair.”
Admission is free, snacks and refreshments will be provided and everyone is welcome. People can bring broken or damaged clothing, small appliances, bicycles, small furniture, electronics and jewelry; fixers will be on hand to provide the tools and know-how. If items can’t be fixed at the event, their owners will receive information on the necessary parts and next steps.
For more information on the Quinte Repair Café, visit the Facebook page or quinterepaircafe.blogspot.ca.