Repair cafes give new life to items some would otherwise throw away – Daily Freeman
ESOPUS, NY – Can’t bear to part with that old wooden chair?
Repair Cafés can give your furniture, small appliances, clocks, toasters, lamps, vacuum cleaners, toys, dolls, jeans and even old photos that might have ended up in the trash can a second chance.
There’s not much that can’t be fixed, and organizer Laura Petit is committed to making sure almost everything is. The currency of the cafes? ” Throw it ? Certainly not. …Take it to the Repair Café.
“It’s not like with planned obsolescence, like with cell phones and everything else where you just can’t fix them or it’s more (expensive) to fix them,” said Petit, who is also an Ulster County Democrat legislator representing Esopus. “(With) that, you go on. A lot of memories.
She and Mark Ellison met recently to discuss their involvement and what the cafes offer. Ellison, a retired earth science professor and chairman of the environmental council of Esopus, which sponsors the Esopus Repair Café, said the concept of reusing items that might otherwise have been discarded “takes hold”.
After a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Esopus restarted its cafe in June “as part of a community repair opportunity to help both coffee users, repair coaches (many of whom own small businesses) and as a step toward our Esopus Climate Smart Community certification through New York State,” Petit said.
At that kickoff event, Ellison said there were 11 “coaches” on hand to help, and about 25 guests. One participant brought in three wooden chairs that she “would have thrown in the dump,” Ellison said, if there hadn’t been a coach who could fix them. Projects range from clasps on jewelry to buttons on jeans, Petit said.
“The idea of the repair café is that you don’t just come in to get it fixed or dropped off,” Petit said. “You stay with your item and the coaches fix it while you watch. It’s meant to be an educational experience.
“In my very first coffee shop in New Paltz, because (New Paltz) is sort of his hometown in the Hudson Valley, I taught someone how to thread a needle.…,” she added. So you’re actually teaching so you can continue the educational part so you can fix it. (And) encourage them to be curious about how things work.
“It’s largely a lost art, like shoemaking,” Petit said. “And you can’t beat some of the older stuff,” she added, explaining that solid wood trumps particleboard pretty much every day.
When a fix is too complicated for a quick fix, Petit said coaches are often able to work things out outside the cafe and many of them own small businesses or work as handymen. “If (an item) can’t be fixed and it’s more complex and needs parts, it’s up to whoever brought the item and the trainer and they can fix something out website,” she said.
According to the repaircafehv.org website, Repair Café Hudson Valley events are held at more than 30 locations in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Capital Region. Each is independently organized by community volunteers.
The cafes are all operated under the umbrella of Repair Café International which, on its website at https://www.repaircafe.org/en/, states that the cafes “are free meeting places and they’re all about fixing things (together).At the location of a Repair Café, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make the repairs you need….You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all sorts of areas…. You can also get inspired at the reading table – flipping through books on repairs and DIY.
The next Esopus Cafe is scheduled for Saturday, October 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ascension Holy Trinity Church, 1585 US Route 9W, West Park. Refreshments will be available as well as a children’s table.
A complete calendar of regional cafes is online at http://www.repaircafehv.org/. There’s never a charge to attend a coffee, though attendees may sometimes have to incur the cost of small parts, Petit said.
In Ulster County, in addition to two locations in Esopus, cafes take place in Gardiner, Kingston, New Paltz, the Rondout Valley and Woodstock.
“I don’t think you can have too many,” Petit said. “Because something is always going to break.”