A repair café is a meeting place in which people repair household electrical and mechanical devices, computers, bicycles, clothing, and other items. They are organized by and for local residents. Repair cafés are held at a fixed location where tools are available and where you can fix your broken goods with the help of volunteers. The objectives are to reduce waste, to maintain repair skills and to strengthen social cohesion.
The Fix Is In
As of 2019, there are more than 150 Repair Cafes in the United States. The largest concentration is in the Northeast, with 50 or so in eastern New York and northern New Jersey and another 50 in Massachusetts and the other New England states. The upper Midwest and the West Coast are the next most “repairing” regions. Sprinkled around the country, you will find regular events in Colorado, Ohio, and the DC and Philly areas, plus outposts in Fairbanks, Alaska; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln, Nebraska; Ellensburg, Washington; Moscow, Idaho; Houston, Texas; the Research Triangle of North Carolina; and St. Petersburg, Florida—with wide open spaces in between.
In one relatively small region—the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Capital District of New York State—we saw more than 120 events in 2019, in 40 communities in 12 counties. These events involved the time of more than 600 volunteers who brought everything from advanced electronics skills to the wherewithal to make a mean cup of tea. The very social “cafe” side of each event thrives on home-baked treats, fruit, coffee, and tea.
Learn more about this movement in the book featured in this issue, Repair Revolution.