Repair Cafe Palo Alto is as much about repair of broken machines as building local networks and creating friendships. The Café, as I experienced it, is a cross-generational community builder. An agent of resilience and localization.
Repair Cafe Palo Alto goes much deeper than “keeping old stuff out of our landfills.” Sentimentality (i.e. – a personal attachment to things), love of history and “eco-do gooding” are home grown values in their crowds and volunteers, as the 2/24 event sponsor – the Palo Alto Museum of American Heritage – connects clear.
Basically there is a cost benefit analysis to run through before carrying your microwave to the event and standing in line for an hour or more. What are the energy requirements of your outdated technology? Are not energy ratings better (and global warming reduced) with a new item?
And what about “free repair?” Is the Cafe vision sustainable? Does the Café event need to be held more often? Should they ask for a fee to cover bills?
Buy new it, repair it, or go without it are key choices
Who is the Cafe connected to? Are their partners out there who can take the unrepairable off the hands of the participants and recycle it to code? Does the Café plan to collaborate with any “old guard” recyclers and community angels including Goodwill, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army?
What if the Café is run as a workers coop with a livable wage? Could it multiply faster?
Founder Peter Skinner told me that his Café model has connections to the Transition Movement: “getting the most use out of each product. Keeping it out of landfills,” he stated in our interview. Transition and Repair Café folks may want to combine forces and build a web of interconnect values; perhaps share costs and volunteers in events like Transition Palo Alto’s next “Multi Share” celebration on 3/10?