A fantastic result for the Shore to Thrive and Global Action Plan Oceania partnership. Repair Cafe Auckland received the Power of the People Award at this week’s Auckland Community Zero Waste Awards.
Such a great outcome for this community led partnership. The partnership began with an event in Bayswater in July of 2016, the success and collective interest in this event provided the catalyst for a collaborative Auckland North Community & Development application to Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation & Innovation Fund. Nine other community groups across Auckland supported this application with commitments to run Repair Café events in different parts of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Repair Cafés are free pop up events where people bring broken and damaged belongings and local volunteer experts sit down with them and do their best to repair them. They are all about bringing people together, connecting local people in their communities with others who are happy to share their skills and knowledge, saving people money and reducing the amount of material that ends up in our landfills.
The Auckland initiative is linked to the International Repair Café movement. With the WMIF funding received, Repair Café Auckland supported 18 Repair Café events with 12 different community partners in 13 different locations across Tāmaki Makaurau from Matakana down to Papakura. We estimate that the 18 events held so far have saved guests $60,760.00 on the cost it would have been to replace the 669 repaired items. Additionally, more events are booked in in the coming months. On average around 100 people have attended each event over the course of the two to three hours they have run and typically 15-25 volunteers share their skills and time during each.
The most satisfying thing about the events though has not so much been the repairing of things (though of course this is important!) but the fantastic positive atmosphere that has been so obvious at them. Generosity of spirit has been vital to success and the inclusionary nature of the events has meant that the overwhelming majority of people coming along have entered into them with a positive attitude. Sharing and reciprocity, giving and receiving have been entered into warmly and enthusiastically and this has blown many visitors away. People share and learn new skills. The events have provided opportunities for impromptu common repair demonstrations to small audiences. Many of the expert repairers pick up new tips and tricks from their peers during the events. There have been some lovely heart-warming stories about some of the repairs completed. At the Takapuna Methodist Church event, for example, there was the repair of one senior visitor’s very sentimental 1940s preschool cuddly bunny!
Hands on Repair Café Event Coordination Training to 14 people as well as facilitating two sessions of Tag & Test training to 12 participants has been delivered over the course of the funding period. The purpose of the Tag & Test training was to equip volunteers from the different Repair Café community groups with the relevant knowledge to competently carry out the testing and tagging of Electrical Appliances that are brought along to Repair Café events. The sessions also provided the opportunity for participants to familiarise themselves with different types of Portable Appliance Testers.
The skills and knowledge required to fix items are becoming rarer and rarer in our consumerist society. A Repair Café is about reminding people of these skills, rekindling that interest in this knowledge and passing on those skills. They are about treasuring the holders of all this incredible knowledge and these skills and passing it on to others. Repair Cafés and the manner in which repairers and visitors are brought closely together in a one on one interaction provides a lovely opportunity to bring neighbourhoods and communities together. The fixing of things provides a platform for community connections.
An outcome report put together at the end of the Auckland Council WMIF period can be viewed here.