Top photo: Photo: Restart Project / Heather Agyepong. Follow Cat Johnson on Twitter
Like a repair cafe, a Restart Party is a community event where volunteers help people repair their broken stuff, but with one important difference — a Restart Party focuses on electronics. The idea is to save our gadgets as well as to change our relationship with them. A Restart electronics repair party reduces the fastest growing and most toxic waste stream while empowering people to repair their stuff.
Restart Parties are the brainchild of the Restart Project, a London-based social enterprise that “encourages and empowers people to use their electronics longer, by sharing repair and maintenance skills.” Restart Parties take place regularly in Europe, but organizers invite anyone in the world to host one. Since 2012, there have been over 185 Restart Parties in six countries. The events typically last three hours, with no new repairs taken during the last hour.
Here are some tips for hosting one in your town, taken from the Restart Project’s Restart Party Kit.
- Offer free entry to the public, although a donation can be suggested
- Promote a collaborative learning process
- Fix other stuff like bikes if you like but you’ll need at least 3-4 electronics repairers.
- Communicate your party to The Restart Project in advance and share the results
- Be insured! The Restart Project is not liable for events we do not organise. If uninsured, please work in partnership with a group that is. (For more information about liability, contact the Restart Project directly.)
Find a Location: Restart Parties can be thrown in a variety of locations, including pubs, community centers, churches, art galleries, etc. Good venues have plenty of tables and chairs, adequate power outlets, good lighting, Internet access, access to restroom facilities, and are accessible.
Enlist Hosts and Volunteers: Hosts greet and orient participants, and volunteers help with the repairs. You’ll need a minimum of three to four volunteers. Volunteers don’t have to be masters of all things electronic. You can host a Party even if you have limited volunteers, and more Restarters will appear. As the Kit advises, put in the extra effort to make your volunteers happy, and you will have no problem recruiting more.
Arrange the Space: As the Restart Party Kit advises, set up the space to “maximize the flow of people, and interaction between volunteers and participants.” Ideally, you’ll have a waiting area where people can meet and mingle.
Gather Supplies: You’ll need a variety of supplies, including extension cords, tape, screwdrivers, a laptop with Internet access, compressed air, isopropyl alcohol, a soldering kit, tweezers, pliers, headlamps and magnifying glasses, spare fuses, wire cutters and strippers, CD/DVD laser cleaning disc, bootable and installable operating systems, virus checkers and anti-malware, etc., a poster or whiteboard to serve as a waiting list, name badges, and refreshments. For a complete list of recommended tools, see the Restart Party Kit.
Spread the Word: Use posters, email and social media. Try to get your Party listed on relevant tech and green email lists. You can also reach out to local media with a press release about the event. Use these techniques to invite participants as well as recruit volunteers.
Measure Your Impact: Each Restart Party measure the waste the event diverted. For your Party, create a poster, which also serves as the waiting list, to track the device problem and whether it was fixed, as well as comments. After the Party, fill out the Restart Project’s online form to share your data. They will generate a report for you and add your data to their global database.
Safety Tips: Designate an experienced Restarter as the Safety Volunteer. Both volunteers and hosts should be mindful during the event and volunteers should never do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Safety test equipment before it leaves the Restart Party. These are just the basic safety tips. For the complete safety guidelines and a disclaimer, see the Restart Party Kit.
Visual Identity: The Restart Project is not promoting the creation of new Restart Project chapters, but of Restart Parties around the world. You may call your event a Restart Party and use the Restart Party logo, but don’t imply that the event is being run by the Restart Project. For complete visual identity do’s and don’ts, see the Kit.
Downloadable Files: The Restart Project provides the communication materials you’ll need for you event. Available files include a registration sign, a Restart lounge sign, fixing table sign, wayfinding poster, Restart Party rules, and event promo poster.