I was told that there is a monthly event called Repair café where volunteer workers repair things you bring. Even though I only had very limited information about it, I was quite interested and decided to visit it with my sad teddy bear from a second hand store.
This teddy bear has a slightly human like proportion which I admire. Although I sort of like the sadness it has, the legs are about to fall apart and the filling is partly exposed and it would probably be really broken if it’s not taken care of now.
I went to the one taken place in Amsterdam Oude West.
When you enter, first you meet the receptionists, show the thing you brought and fill in the form. Then you will be guided to the volunteer people who can take care of the things with problem you brought. Each categories, such as textile and mechanic, has its own tables and 2-3 specialized volunteers sitting around and work. I was guided to the textile section.
My teddy bear went to Chiquita, who studied textile in the same school as me, (such a nice coincidence!), to be fixed. We discussed how it should be fixed and agreed on only fixing the joints of the legs and body. She explained me it would require a careful hand work and take time so she would bring it home and fix with care, and later I will pick it up.
I also had a chance to have a little talk with Annemarie who organize repair café in Amsterdam West.
This particular repair café in Amsterdam Oude West has been running for 2 and a half years now and taking place once in every month. Repair café it self was initiated and founded by Martine Postma in the late 2000 in Amsterdam. It has expanded all over the world now, there are also ones in Japan as well. There are over 20 repair cafes in Amsterdam.
Annemarie works on organization, promotions , for instance, on Facebook and local news papers, and gathering volunteer workers. Gathering volunteer people has been one of the difficult work for her.
It is one of the important purposes of Repair café to work as a platform to activate the neighborhood. The visitors can get their things repaired mostly without paying or sometime with little amount, and that leads them avoid throwing things immediately learn to use things longer with care. The volunteer can contribute to the local society with their knowledge and talent, that leads them having self esteem. Repairing things creates a positive cycle in the local community.
There are of course problems repair café has to face. One of the biggest is the fact many of the electronic products are made to be broken, and when they get broken it is impossible to repair. They consider it is their task to spread the awareness and insist corporations should produce more repairable products.
It was an very interesting visit to find out and learn about the activity of repair café, a function as a platform activating a local community, and a potential of sending a strong message to the society for making a more sustainable future.
I am looking forward to welcome back the teddy bear, hoping it will be little more happy.
Thank you Annemarie and Chiquita for letting me have talk with you and sharing your stories!
The next Repair Cafe in Amsterdam Oude West will be taken place 18th September. The adress; Douwes Dekkerstraat 2