Over the weekend a BRO reader sent me a link to an article that she felt should be shared with other readers. She told me that she had first read about the idea in AARP magazine, and then added a couple of links to an article in the NY Times and to a website called RepairCafe.
The idea is both simple and brilliant. It’s a café where people with all sorts of underutilized talents come together to fix items that would otherwise be thrown away in the trash. Stop for a moment, to think about all of the things that you have thrown away that could have been saved had there been someone willing to fix them. The café harnesses the talents of retirees, people out of work looking to learn skills, and others who find the idea of repair and reuse an admirable one. Concept originator, Martine Postma (Netherlands), came up with the idea after seeing an exhibit dedicated to repair and reuse. It didn’t take long before she decided to act upon her gut instincts that told her to do something about the waste that was spinning out of control in her country.
Since she first branded the concept, 30 groups have followed suit and there are now a number of RepairCafe locations throughout the Netherlands. The cafés have been funded with the help of the government, foundations, and various supporters. It seems that in this day and age, where everything is expendable, and there are countless people looking to keep busy, the RepairCafe idea has come into its own.
I believe that a RepairCafe would be well-suited in Buffalo. This is the type of initiative that could go far and could be driven by either a motivated individual, or an organization such as The Foundry. A Repair Cafe is a place to lend and learn talents, meet neighbors, keep busy, contribute to a green cause, and help people to save money so that they don’t have to go out and buy new items.
I can think of a number of things in my house that I would take to a place such as this, and I would be willing to pay to have them fixed. After all, there are certain things that just can’t be replaced, and if you don’t have to then why should you? In the Netherlands this is a free service, but if that is an impossibility in The States, then a system of donations might be justified to keep the initiative sustainable (pay what you can). Repair Cafe start-ups are just beginning to appear in the US where volunteers have come out in droves, and community partners such as hardware stores have stepped up to help out with the efforts. To me, this is a fascinating concept that has got Buffalo written all over it.