A free repair clinic

Before I begin, a quick note:

Oh, my. Thank you for the warm and open-armed welcome back into this space. It was beyond my expectation. But it seems it’s something that many of us need. A little slow-down, a little reconnection, a little depth. So yes. Thank you, thank you. I’m so glad you’re here.

The state of the world has me anxious more often than not. I’m certain I’m not alone.

Politics, climate crisis, conspiracy theories, war, nationalism, racism, sexism, transphobia, loss of reproductive rights–there’s no shortage of bad news and fear for us to spin out on.

And sometimes I wonder if the small things I’m doing to help tip the world back toward wholeness are nearly enough. From how I’ve raised my kids (a slow, homegrown life with a focus on activism and justice) to the changes I’ve made in my business (biodegradable packaging, planting trees), to our home (buying second-hand, reducing consumption)–does it really make any difference?

And I have to remind myself that every conscious, upstream action is an act of rebellion. Every voice raised, every act of justice/equality/sustainability/kindness does nudge the world toward goodness. I know it does.

Things like how we parent, if we choose to have kids at all, how we spend our money, where we source our food, how we live, how we care for one another–all of these have the power to shape the world for good.

Even the smallest acts, like how we tend–and repair–the things that we own.

With that (and so much much more) in mind, I started meeting up with a small group of people last winter. We shared the common vision of starting a free repair clinic in our community. A place where our neighbors could bring their broken blenders and cantankerous vacuums, moth-chewed sweaters and blown-out blue jeans, and we could divert a small flow from the landfill tract, and guide and help folks to make their broken things function again.

A place where we could remember what communities have always known: how to help and take care of each other, ourselves, and the earth in one singular and joyful act.

And that’s just what we did.

Last weekend our small (but growing) volunteer group gathered with our tools and supplies to offer free repairs for our community. There were benches and bicycles, dresses and food processors, lamps and vegetable peelers, and so much more. We fixed sewing machines and unclogged vacuums, mended torn clothing and rewired frayed cords.

And we built connections and community.

Over a dozen people came to our soft-start, first-ever clinic, and we look forward to offering another busier clinic in October.

And I can hardly wait.

Because our small actions really can make a difference. I truly believe that. And something as simple helping our neighbors repair their belongings to keep them out of landfill for a little bit longer feels simultaneously simple and like a radical revolution to me.

Want to start your own free, community fix-it clinic? You won’t regret it! The book Repair Revolution is a great place to start. Buy your copy used, buy it from your local indie book shop, borrow it from your public library or from a friend. But if you can help it, please don’t buy it from Amazon. Because they’re certainly a part of the overconsumption + exploitation issues that we face in this world. And… stepping off my soap box now. x

Have you participated in a free community repair clinic or cafe? Share your experience below!

27 thoughts on “A free repair clinic

  1. Malkah Geller says:

    So happy you’re back blogging, dear Rachel. You’re a beacon of light in the world. I learn so much from you. Wish I could emulate you. Little by little you’re helping to change communities….and perhaps the world. Much love!

  2. Lydia Kendis says:

    Thank you, Rachel, for this inspiring message this morning when the world feels overwhelming to me on both a micro and macro level. I didn’t get the chance to respond to your last blog post, but I am so grateful for your slow down and your authenticity in a world that feels increasingly fast and not real.❤️

  3. Sarah Heimann says:

    I love this (and your blog…a longtime reader who followed you to Instagram and happily follows your back here). I’m the daughter of a former research scientist, teacher, and repairer of small appliances and sewing machines. I have a keen appreciation of the tending to things and the pleasure of fixing.

  4. Emily says:

    I am a new reader…I wanted to respond to your last blog post. Your words are so refreshing and tangible. They give hope even if what they are communicating is hard. I so appreciate you and what you are doing. Thank you.

  5. tameka says:

    Yay! You’re back to blogging. I’ve missed your blogs and have been reading them since 2008 or 2009. And I’ve often referred to them – even recently – for sourkraut and yogurt making.
    I’ve been off social media for almost a year now with no desire to return. They don’t have the same vibe as a blog.

  6. Bambi says:

    I love this idea and will certainly check out the book. (Huge fan of my local library) Part of our business for years has been repairing appliances. We have saved countless units from the dump. But to have a community if ppl using their skills sounds amazing!

  7. Cara English says:

    What a fantastic idea! It kind of reminds me of the British show “Repair Shop.” Have you seen it? I think this is a wonderful way to build community and reduce what goes to the landfill in our throwaway culture! Good for you!

  8. Gabrielle says:

    We don’t have a repair clinic (yet?), but I’m grateful to be part of a really active local Buy Nothing group. It serves some of the same purpose — once, when I asked whether anybody could help me solder a shower curtain hook that had broken, so I wouldn’t have to buy a whole new set, a neighbor said she had an extra hook from that same model that I could have!

    • Rachel Wolf says:

      So great! We LOVE our free page. It also allowed us to dig out from under a decades worth of clutter, donating imperfect things to people who wanted them instead of donating to the thrift store with fingers crossed that it all didn’t get tossed. Such a win-win.

  9. Emma Cowan says:

    Brilliant. Its actually important mental health work, which is more essential these days than ever. What a wonderful way for folks to be useful and show their care for each other, the things of life and their community.

  10. Paola says:

    So good to have you back. I missed you. You have always been such a source of inspiration, wisdom and hope. And I give that to others, many others. Your blog and your “little acts” are in fact changing the world. you have changed me and my family and for that I’m forever grateful.

  11. Vicky says:

    Oh my gosh. I absolutely love this. You’re right – this IS so simple, yet so revolutionary! You are changing the world in small ways, and those small actions have big ripple effects! You are always inspiring me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos with us! <3

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