Ruah Swennerfelt, Charlotte

A Repair Cafe run by the Transition group in Pasadena, Calif., offers to repair anything for free. The only trade required is that while the repair takes place, you sit in a chair opposite the fixer and tell them a story about your life. Photo by Ruah Swennerfelt.

Transition Charlotte is planning to offer a “Repair Café,” co-sponsored by the Charlotte Library and Grange, in the fall. There’s a worldwide movement trying to reform our throwaway approach to rips and tears, broken switches or chords, or just about anything else that could be repaired if we could find the person to fix it.

The cafés invite people to bring their “beloved but broken” possessions to the gatherings, which are hosted in church basements, libraries, town halls and senior centers. The cafés make no guarantees that items will be fixed. “All we can guarantee is that you will have an interesting time,” John Wackman, who founded the Repair Café in New Paltz, New York, said.

Transition Initiatives around the country have adopted repair cafés as a way to bring community members together for fun and fixing. Clothes, books, dolls, stuffed animals, bicycles, appliances, chairs, jewelry, electronics—if they are broken, ripped or inoperable and you can carry it in, fixers will try to fix it or help you fix it yourself. As described in my book, Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith: “A Repair Cafe run by the Transition group in Pasadena, California, offers to repair anything for free. The only trade required is that while the repair takes place, you sit in a chair opposite the fixer and tell them a story about your life. What was the repair café really repairing?” Don’t we need to repair our fractured culture, where neighbor doesn’t know neighbor? I know we are more fortunate here in Charlotte, but from my past experience I see how eager Charlotters are to get together.

In a recent New York Times article I learned that the movement began in Amsterdam where Martine Postma came up with the idea to reduce the waste going into landfills. Repair Café started in 2009 and today it has more than 1,100 sites in almost 30 countries!

So I’m calling all fixers! Let me know if you’d be interested in helping out with a repair café in the fall. Once we have a hefty lineup of fixers, we’ll put out the call for things to fix along with a date and place. We’ll have refreshments, share stories and have fun, while also doing something to save our planet from too much waste. Call me at (802) 425-3377 or email me.