I have to admit that, before a friend posted this video to my Facebook wall, I had never heard of repair cafés. I had no idea this was a trend, but I’m thrilled that it is.
I immediately thought of several appliances and motorized tools that I would love to repair, but I’m too clueless to troubleshoot and fix what may be wrong with them. If I could take them to one of these repair cafés and work with someone who knows what they’re doing, I would get these devices fixed, learn more about them, and how to maintain and fix them in the future. I would also be supporting a local makery endeavour and the so-called “perennial philosophy” (trying to keep the material objects in your life alive for as long as possible). Pure win!
The repair café concept appears to have originated in Amsterdam and has a much larger presence in Europe. There is a repair café .org website and a world map of registered cafés.
It looks like some cafés are permanent locations (basically a makerspace) while others are pop-up events that happen in churches, libraries, and other community spaces. Since there are so many maker/hackerspaces in cities and towns these days, and so many libraries doing makerspaces, hosting repair café nights seems like a no-brainer. And they seem like such a great way to do something fun, useful, and educational for the local community.
Repair cafés have gotten some heat for potentially taking work away from established repair businesses and technicians, but organizers of these cafés argue that, on the contrary, encouraging people to repair rather than toss creates an overall culture of sustainability, repair, and maintenance that benefits everyone in the long run.
[H/t Don Webb]