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Repair Cafe in Chilliwack to fix community’s broken things

Event coming up at Yarrow Community School shifts the mindset to re-using and repurposing items
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Repair Cafe 2024 is at Yarrow Community School on April 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mowers, tools, appliances and bikes were repaired last year. (Brian Chilibeck photo)

Yarrow volunteers are planning a Repair Cafe to fix some of the community’s broken things.

Fixers as well as community members with items in need of repair are invited to the free event on April 13 at the Yarrow Community School, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The Repair Cafe is actually a worldwide movement,” said Sally Lum, one of the organizers.

The philosophy of recycling emphasizes repurposing, re-use and repair, which runs counter to the disposable nature of our society, and our belongings.

But these events have been gaining steam all over the world, she said.

The first Repair Cafe in Yarrow was a year ago.

They fixed bikes, and mowers. They sharpened knives and tools. They took a stab at tuning up weed-whackers, chain saws and sewing machines.

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Repair Cafe 2024 is at Yarrow Community School on April 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mowers, tools, appliances and bikes were repaired last year. (Brian Chilibeck photo)

The idea of bringing the Repair Cafe phenomenon to Chilliwack had been on Lum’s radar for a number of years, as someone with a strong interest in keeping items out of the landfill.

It can be upsetting to see perfectly good items end up at the dump.

“Sometimes there’s not even an attempt at repurposing,” she said a tad wistfully.

Lum has been known to rescue unloved items left by the wayside in the past.

“I’m married to a very handy guy - so it’s easier for me to take that position,” she admitted.

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Repair Cafe 2024 is at Yarrow Community School on April 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The first Repair Cafe was held at the Yarrow school last spring.

A small band of eight volunteers showed up, and together they managed to successfully repair 24 items.

“We had a nice response to the first one. People left quite satisfied,” Lum noted.

Attending the Repair Cafe might remind some folks of the ways tight-knit communities used to operate. Lum suggested it could even encourage some to adopt the old ways like repairing, repurposing and re-using items to keep them going strong longer.

“There was a social component to it last year, as people chatted. Some learned to fix their own bikes right alongside the bike guy,” she said.

Only one attempt was a bit of a bust when they were unable to get the back of a wristwatch open.

“It was a matter of having the right tools.”

It’s also annoying that so much of our tech based items today are not able to be repaired easily - by design.

There’s no guarantee that they can fix everything that comes in, Lum said. But they’ll have folks on-hand ready to give it the old college try.

The Repair Cafe encourages a return to the old ways, when there was less wastage.

”We’re hoping to shift people’s mindset.”

For more details call 604-823-0257.

READ ALSO: Recycling items builds bridges



Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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