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Return to the Repair Cafe with Jackie Carter
Episode 14518th October 2021 • Your Positive Imprint • Catherine Praiswater
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The common mindset is to throw it away if it doesn’t work. That causes problems for the environment as this practice is unsustainable for the earth. Sustainability of your belongings and of the earth is exceedingly necessary. Repair Cafe is interactive and anybody anywhere in the world can start one. Jackie Carter explains how it works. Repair Cafe. Fix it. Don't throw it away.



Transcripts

Catherine:

It is unsustainable for the earth for us to continue throwing

Catherine:

things away when there are alternatives.

Catherine:

What is repair cafe and how can you start one?

Catherine:

Repair cafe inspired this podcast episode with guest Jackie Carter.

Catherine:

Have you ever heard of repair cafe repair cafe began in 2009

Catherine:

in Amsterdam by Martine Postma.

Catherine:

And I don't know how to pronounce her name, but she started it

Catherine:

because she wanted to find a way to be more sustainable.

Catherine:

Repair cafe went global.

Catherine:

Jackie Carter of Moscow, Idaho opened up the first repair

Catherine:

cafe for the state of Idaho.

Catherine:

And there are ways that you can open up a cafe.

Catherine:

And I know that this episode will inspire you to want to do so.

Catherine:

Jackie Carter will share ways on just how you can do that.

Catherine:

We're sitting here in the beautiful Moscow library.

Catherine:

And this is Jackie Carter.

Catherine:

Hi.

Catherine:

Hi Jackie.

Catherine:

It's so exciting.

Catherine:

And so first off, let's kind of go backwards before we get to Repair

Catherine:

Cafe and find out why you became interested in a, oh, and you'll

Catherine:

hear the background noises of the library as they deliver books.

Catherine:

It's always exciting to hear the the sounds of our humankind nature.

Catherine:

So what got you into conservation?

Jackie Carter:

Just a conscientious human, I try to do as much as I can, but

Jackie Carter:

I feel like, I've never done enough.

Jackie Carter:

I feel like I've never contributed that way very much.

Jackie Carter:

I first heard about the Repair Cafe movement on Facebook and

Jackie Carter:

I came across an article and I'd never heard of it before.

Jackie Carter:

And I read it and read what it was about and I thought that's the perfect

Jackie Carter:

kind of thing for this community.

Jackie Carter:

Moscow is very much oriented that way.

Jackie Carter:

Sustainability is a really big deal here.

Jackie Carter:

We have several groups, local groups.

Jackie Carter:

We have, uh, the Palouse Environmental Sustainability coalition.

Jackie Carter:

And then there's also the Palouse Clearwater environmental Institute,

Jackie Carter:

which is a local educational facility, just making sure that, people are

Jackie Carter:

conscious about what they can do locally.

Jackie Carter:

,I just thought that would be a really cool thing to do.

Jackie Carter:

And I liked the idea.

Jackie Carter:

I think I reposted it and I said, this is something that would

Jackie Carter:

be really great here in Moscow.

Jackie Carter:

And people were like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jackie Carter:

But I had no idea how to implement something like that.

Jackie Carter:

I'm the kind of person that throws a party and nobody comes so I could never do that.

Jackie Carter:

And I wouldn't know how to get started anyway.

Jackie Carter:

And then about a year later, I was at, the Pacific Northwest

Jackie Carter:

library association conference.

Jackie Carter:

And there was, a library, I think, from Red Deer, Alberta in Canada.

Jackie Carter:

And their seminar was, how to do a repair cafe in the library.

Jackie Carter:

And it occurred to me that the whole time, the answer was right underneath my feet.

Jackie Carter:

I work in the library and this is the kind of thing that would go very well.

Jackie Carter:

And it was nice to sit in that seminar because they talked about how they did it.

Jackie Carter:

What kind of things to expect, you know, basically all of the steps

Jackie Carter:

that you needed to go through

Jackie Carter:

to make it work.

Jackie Carter:

I was very excited about it.

Jackie Carter:

And I came back and I talked to my director and she

Jackie Carter:

said, I think this is great.

Jackie Carter:

So they took it to our Friends of the Library group and they were

Jackie Carter:

immediately very enthusiastic and on board and they gave me a budget.

Jackie Carter:

That's how it started.

Jackie Carter:

And so, I mean, I just kind of dove in, I didn't really know what

Jackie Carter:

I was doing, but I I'm a person that kind of, I like to make lists.

Jackie Carter:

So I, I have this, this book out of the moleskikn moleskin notebook

Jackie Carter:

full of just lists of things.

Jackie Carter:

And let's try to organize it's quite well.

Jackie Carter:

It's not just repair cafe.

Jackie Carter:

It's just how I live my life.

Jackie Carter:

But, you know, and the best thing was that people were so

Jackie Carter:

enthusiastic and so open to it, that it made it feel much easier to do.

Jackie Carter:

I didn't feel like I was hitting any kind of resistance at all.

Jackie Carter:

It was just, people were very open to the idea.

Jackie Carter:

So it kind of went from there that

Catherine:

now that's, that is exciting.

Catherine:

And we need to get more with this podcast and you telling how you did

Catherine:

it maybe there are others who will be inspired to set up a repair cafe.

Catherine:

It's a really exciting thing.

Jackie Carter:

Yes, it is.

Jackie Carter:

It's uh, I think it's growing because just from what I've

Jackie Carter:

seen, and patrons were coming in and saying, this is a great idea.

Jackie Carter:

I love this idea.

Jackie Carter:

This is such a great idea.

Jackie Carter:

This needs to be happening everywhere.

Jackie Carter:

On the website for Repair Cafe, A global map and you can narrow it down to the U

Jackie Carter:

S and there are a lot of them in bigger cities, especially in the east and the

Jackie Carter:

Northeast, not a lot out here in the west.

Jackie Carter:

So, you know, there's a few in Southern California and I think, uh, a few in

Jackie Carter:

Seattle, the Seattle area, but I it's something I'd like to see happen.

Catherine:

What was your first step to get it going aside from

Catherine:

going to the conference and getting the money, how much money.

Catherine:

So to run something like this, is it super expensive?

Catherine:

I mean, you don't have to give an a dollar amount.

Catherine:

Was it super expensive?

Jackie Carter:

I don't think so, because I mean, I was given

Jackie Carter:

a budget and I was all excited.

Jackie Carter:

I'm like, okay, we need this and this and this.

Jackie Carter:

And then I realized later that a lot of the things that I purchased

Jackie Carter:

were not necessarily things

Jackie Carter:

we maybe needed.

Jackie Carter:

I was thinking we needed to have all the tools and it's nice to have

Jackie Carter:

like a toolkit and basic tools.

Jackie Carter:

But when we had our first one and people showed up, they brought their own tools.

Jackie Carter:

People bring their own stuff and they were so enthusiastic and we have a, uh,

Jackie Carter:

volunteer who he, he was doing the, Small appliances and electronics and he's, I

Jackie Carter:

think he's an engineer and I mean, he had bags of things and just all this

Jackie Carter:

stuff that he brought in every kind of specialized tool you could think of.

Jackie Carter:

And he was one of the volunteers.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

So he had everything he needed.

Jackie Carter:

And so that's really exciting.

Jackie Carter:

And everybody said, oh, you don't need to, I can bring that.

Jackie Carter:

I have a soldering iron, I have this and this or this.

Jackie Carter:

So that's the good thing about this as the volunteers, most of

Jackie Carter:

them are already tinkerers and they like to do this kind of thing.

Jackie Carter:

So they have, they have the basic tools.

Jackie Carter:

They have the things they need.

Jackie Carter:

So I guess as far as what it costs to get started, our biggest cost was the venue

Jackie Carter:

because the library does not have a space big enough to host something like this.

Jackie Carter:

So I had to pay for a venue and then, you know, little, little things here and there

Jackie Carter:

we did, I did invest in a lot of different types of like glues and adhesives and

Jackie Carter:

things like that because I want us to have

Jackie Carter:

a station where people can go.

Jackie Carter:

everybody has that one item at home that needs a special glue,

Jackie Carter:

but they don't want to go out and buy it just for this one thing.

Jackie Carter:

So they can bring this in and it can be, they can get it glued.

Jackie Carter:

It's free to the public.

Jackie Carter:

They can come in and bring a broken item.

Jackie Carter:

There's there will be someone there, hopefully that has the knowledge

Jackie Carter:

and the skills to repair it..

Jackie Carter:

Also, we want the visitors to learn how to repair things themselves

Jackie Carter:

so that they can start to think about their belongings differently.

Jackie Carter:

Like, you know, this isn't something I just toss away

Jackie Carter:

it's it can probably be fixed.

Jackie Carter:

There are resources out there, and most people we've

Jackie Carter:

gotten away from that mindset.

Jackie Carter:

The common mindset now is, and I think we've been driven into this idea that

Jackie Carter:

you buy something and it's only supposed to last a couple of years, and then

Jackie Carter:

you just get the newest model, and that benefits the manufacturers,

Jackie Carter:

but it costs us money and it

Jackie Carter:

fills up landfills and it causes problems for the environment.

Jackie Carter:

We're, we're battling that all the time, trying to get people past that

Jackie Carter:

and to just realize that there's another alternative out there.

Catherine:

We have the repair cafe, we know what the repair part is.

Catherine:

So what's the cafe?

Jackie Carter:

It's literally just a place, a little corner or a table

Jackie Carter:

that, people can sit and have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea or.

Jackie Carter:

Uh, a cookie, something like that.

Jackie Carter:

And there's a reading table.

Jackie Carter:

That's where the library comes in handy because I can bring books from

Jackie Carter:

the library on repair and how to repair different types of items.

Jackie Carter:

They can sit and they can look at books and they can sip their coffee

Jackie Carter:

and relax maybe while they're waiting to get their item repaired, or maybe

Jackie Carter:

there's something else they have at home that they want to know how to fix

Jackie Carter:

so they can just peruse the librarian.

Jackie Carter:

I have amazing coworkers and one of them she's like, I don't know

Jackie Carter:

how to fix anything, but I'm really good at rallying the troops.

Jackie Carter:

So she has recruited everybody else.

Jackie Carter:

Okay, you need to bake two dozen cookies.

Jackie Carter:

And so they, they bring them all.

Jackie Carter:

And so there's enough for everybody to eat and what we had left over

Jackie Carter:

last time, we sent home with volunteers, so, it's a bonus.

Jackie Carter:

Oh, that's nice.

Catherine:

That is a nice bonus.

Catherine:

So you, you had to get a budget, a venue.

Catherine:

And then how did you advertise for volunteers?

Jackie Carter:

That's.

Jackie Carter:

Interesting because this is a small community and I've lived here forever

Jackie Carter:

and you just, you know, people and, you know people who know people.

Jackie Carter:

So I started making phone calls and saying, Hey, I

Jackie Carter:

know, you know how to do this.

Jackie Carter:

Do you think you could help me out?

Jackie Carter:

And people were like, yeah, I can do that.

Jackie Carter:

My coworkers were amazing.

Jackie Carter:

There's a someone here today who he's a retired veterinarian and he

Jackie Carter:

just took a part-time job working at the library because he wanted

Jackie Carter:

to do something and give back.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

And it turns out that he is also pretty good at fixing electrical things.

Jackie Carter:

So he's like, we're gonna help you out.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

And then the first article came out in the paper and one of my friends

Jackie Carter:

posted it on Facebook and one of her friends immediately said, I want

Jackie Carter:

in on this, I love to fix things.

Jackie Carter:

How can I get involved in this?

Jackie Carter:

And it's just been like that kind of thing.

Jackie Carter:

My husband, he can fix most things.

Jackie Carter:

So he goes kind of from place to place.

Jackie Carter:

And then one of his coworkers, he works at the university.

Jackie Carter:

He fixes furniture.

Jackie Carter:

So he's going to help out with that.

Jackie Carter:

Oh so people

Catherine:

might bring their furniture in the back of their truck.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah, hopefully.

Catherine:

So, all right.

Catherine:

So then you gathered volunteers and

Jackie Carter:

And so I guess what I was trying to say with the

Jackie Carter:

budget is I don't think you really need that much to get started.

Jackie Carter:

If you go through repair cafe, because there are other programs out there

Jackie Carter:

that are similar, I decided to use the, the repair cafe model because you can

Jackie Carter:

purchase a, a digital kit from them

Jackie Carter:

, you can download all of their materials that tell you how to

Jackie Carter:

get started and how to do this.

Jackie Carter:

And you have access to the logo and all the signs and everything.

Jackie Carter:

It's branded.

Jackie Carter:

And I really liked the model.

Jackie Carter:

I liked the way that they did it.

Jackie Carter:

And the conference that I attended was also about actual repair cafe,

Jackie Carter:

but there are other, other models and programs out there that people can do.

Jackie Carter:

So it's, I mean, it's really it's.

Jackie Carter:

It just depends.

Jackie Carter:

So I think if you lived in a community where you, had a place to do this.

Jackie Carter:

I know some places in California have done them outside during the summer.

Jackie Carter:

Really.

Jackie Carter:

It's not going to be much of a cost other than.

Catherine:

And the fun part is you get

Jackie Carter:

materials.

Catherine:

So it becomes social also.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

And especially in this town, it seems like everybody knows

Jackie Carter:

everybody else, at least by sight.

Jackie Carter:

And, uh, that was the fun thing about the, the first repair cafe.

Jackie Carter:

I don't think there was a person that walked in the

Jackie Carter:

door that I didn't recognize.

Jackie Carter:

I mean, it wasn't huge.

Jackie Carter:

We didn't have a lot of people for the first one.

Jackie Carter:

It wasn't a.

Jackie Carter:

I attended, but it was a star.

Jackie Carter:

It takes time.

Jackie Carter:

I kind of purposely kept it that way for the first one, because I just,

Jackie Carter:

it was our first one and I wanted to kind of feel things out and kind of,

Jackie Carter:

it was sort of a test run, really.

Jackie Carter:

So kind of work out the glitches and see what to expect..

Jackie Carter:

The response has been really amazing.

Jackie Carter:

We've added the furniture.

Jackie Carter:

Small appliances.

Jackie Carter:

Small electronics.

Jackie Carter:

And then we have a clothing and textile, which I think is

Jackie Carter:

always going to be popular.

Jackie Carter:

People always have, you know, there are people who don't know

Jackie Carter:

how to sew on a button, right?

Jackie Carter:

Zippers and things that need to be patched and hemmed.

Jackie Carter:

And, and then if people can bring in socks that need to be darned

Jackie Carter:

nobody darns socks anymore.

Jackie Carter:

It's like throw them away and buy a new pair.

Jackie Carter:

A knife and scissors sharpening station.

Catherine:

Do they have sewing machines?

Jackie Carter:

They do.

Jackie Carter:

, one of my volunteers for the clothing and textile station she

Jackie Carter:

owns a local alteration shop.

Jackie Carter:

And she was very enthusiastic about doing this.

Jackie Carter:

She said she does things like this occasionally like at the university,

Jackie Carter:

you know, clinics, showing people how to fix their own things.

Jackie Carter:

So she, she came and she has like this amazing kit that's just got every

Jackie Carter:

kind of thing you would need to like.

Jackie Carter:

Zippers and all kinds of things that she can replace or snaps and things like that.

Jackie Carter:

And she has a sewing machine and then we borrowed an extra sewing machine

Jackie Carter:

from the high school, you know, volunteers show up with things like that.

Catherine:

It's so wonderful that you have this workforce of volunteers.

Jackie Carter:

I am kind of bowled over by the support and the

Jackie Carter:

enthusiasm that I've encountered.

Jackie Carter:

Just my coworkers alone, but the community and my volunteers have been amazing.

Jackie Carter:

I can't believe people are willing to give up that much of their free

Jackie Carter:

time and say, yes, I want to do this.

Jackie Carter:

And they're really excited about it.

Jackie Carter:

It is wonderful.

Jackie Carter:

And it's there and it's their positive imprint.

Jackie Carter:

Right?

Jackie Carter:

Exactly.

Jackie Carter:

And that's their way of, giving back and sharing their knowledge.

Jackie Carter:

One resource that I would like to tap for volunteers.

Jackie Carter:

Maybe the retirement community.

Jackie Carter:

You have that, oh yes.

Jackie Carter:

People who, a lot of them maybe have those skills, I mean, maybe they weren't

Jackie Carter:

a repair person before, but they knew how to fix a lamp or a vacuum cleaner

Jackie Carter:

or whatever, because they, oh yeah.

Jackie Carter:

That's something they just did.

Jackie Carter:

And they have that knowledge that they can, they can share it

Jackie Carter:

and they have the time to do it.

Jackie Carter:

And probably the enthusiasm.

Jackie Carter:

Sure.

Catherine:

You already have this from the wonderful community.

Catherine:

When you buy the kit repair cafe repair cafe, do you have any networking or

Catherine:

communication with anybody or you just buy the kit and you're on your own only.

Jackie Carter:

You get put on their map so people can go to their website.

Jackie Carter:

Right after we had our first event, there was an article that I wrote

Jackie Carter:

in the paper for the library column.

Jackie Carter:

And then when we had our event, we had a reporter show up a

Jackie Carter:

reporter and a photographer.

Jackie Carter:

And so there was an article in the paper and I heard from other libraries,

Jackie Carter:

one in Southern Idaho, one in Texas, and they said, we want to do this.

Jackie Carter:

How do we get started?

Jackie Carter:

And so I wrote up this sort of a guideline well, yeah, sort of a.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah, I don't know.

Jackie Carter:

I kind of threw it together at the last minute, but I've sent it out several

Jackie Carter:

times telling people, this is what I did.

Jackie Carter:

This is how I found my volunteers.

Jackie Carter:

This is how I got started.

Jackie Carter:

This might work for you.

Jackie Carter:

This is what didn't work.

Jackie Carter:

This is what did work.

Jackie Carter:

This is what I would do differently.

Jackie Carter:

And I'm hoping for more of that.

Jackie Carter:

These were both libraries that I heard from there was a third place

Jackie Carter:

in Canada that, uh, also contacted me, but I don't think they were a library.

Jackie Carter:

I want people to know that they don't have to be associated

Jackie Carter:

with the library to do this.

Jackie Carter:

Anyone can start one of these.

Jackie Carter:

This just happened to be the path that I took because it worked for me.

Jackie Carter:

Most of them, in fact, I think are just, private citizens who

Jackie Carter:

just say, Hey, we need to do this.

Jackie Carter:

I think this is a great idea.

Catherine:

I think this is, this is wonderful.

Catherine:

I would really like it to be widespread and become more widespread.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

Right.

Jackie Carter:

The, the example I like to give.

Jackie Carter:

And this won't mean anything to anybody who's probably under 40,

Jackie Carter:

but there used to be the Maytag commercials with their Maytag repairman.

Jackie Carter:

And he was lonely because, because the, uh, the washing machines and

Jackie Carter:

dryers were so well-made and they were so reliable that he never got

Jackie Carter:

called out to help to fix anything.

Jackie Carter:

They don't show those anymore because I think 40, 50 years ago,

Jackie Carter:

Manufacturers had a lot of pride in how well-made their items were and

Jackie Carter:

how this will last you your lifetime.

Jackie Carter:

And it's not like that anymore.

Jackie Carter:

It's more to their financial benefit that something breaks down in a couple of years

Jackie Carter:

and you replace it and buy a new one.

Jackie Carter:

And, it's frustrating for consumers.

Jackie Carter:

This has been going on so long that we've just kind of been pushed into this.

Jackie Carter:

That's just the way it is.

Jackie Carter:

Oh yeah.

Jackie Carter:

It's broken.

Jackie Carter:

I, I have to get a new one.

Jackie Carter:

One thing that, I keep thinking about is my my mother-in-law's toaster.

Jackie Carter:

She passed away.

Jackie Carter:

And, the family gathered to get her house ready to sell and going

Jackie Carter:

through the belongings and everything.

Jackie Carter:

She had this ancient toaster, this little Chrome probably weighed a lot.

Jackie Carter:

Yeah.

Jackie Carter:

Heavy duty.

Jackie Carter:

And it still makes perfect toast after 40 years, I think it was from

Jackie Carter:

the seventies and I've thrown away three toasters in the last 10 years.

Jackie Carter:

And everybody's like, I want the toaster, I want the toaster.

Jackie Carter:

That's a great toaster.

Jackie Carter:

Nothing that we own right now my kids are going to say, I want that

Jackie Carter:

because it's lasted my whole lifetime.

Jackie Carter:

Things aren't made to last.

Jackie Carter:

It would be nice if people could get away from that, that idea,

Jackie Carter:

that things should last longer.

Jackie Carter:

And I think that's part of what the, the right to repair movement is about.

Catherine:

I so much appreciate you taking your time for doing this.

Catherine:

Yeah.

Catherine:

Good for you that you read the little piece on your Facebook and ran after

Catherine:

the repair cafe, because you are the only one in Idaho at this time, and

Catherine:

hopefully others will follow suit.

Catherine:

So Jackie.

Catherine:

Thank you for your positive imprint.

Jackie Carter:

Thank you.

Catherine:

Break your throwaway habit, grab some friends and start

Catherine:

a repair cafe anywhere in the world.

Catherine:

Repair cafe.org.

Catherine:

And for this podcast, your positive imprint please remember to leave

Catherine:

positive reviews next week.

Catherine:

Learn more about the right to repair movement.

Catherine:

Your positive imprint.com.

Catherine:

Your positive imprint.

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