For many, replacing a broken object with something new is often the faster and cheaper alternative to fixing it, but a group of neighbors in the small borough of Willimantic, Connecticut, decided it didn’t have to be that way. Three years ago, they started a program to keep salvageable goods from landfills by harnessing the community’s collective skills to fix them.
They started a "repair cafe," where once a season locals can bring broken household items like vacuums, bicycles, and clothes for repair. Knowledgeable neighbors help fix the broken items and provide their owners with a few tips on how to take care of problems in the future.
Virginia Walton helped organize the first repair cafe. She says that while the repair cafe started as a way to encourage residents to reuse and recycle, it has since become a community event that helps people get to know each other. "I'm no professional, but when I finish mending something … the person has such a look of joy on her face," she says. "It's soul food."