Restart Parties spread

People who love the idea of Restart Parties are helping to spread them from our original communities of Brixton and Camden. We’re quite thrilled to see the results of our September “Start your own Restart Party” workshop. Community repair is catching!

This month in London, two new events inspired by our Restart Parties will happen – one in Hackney (Nov. 16) hosted by Sustainable Hackney and Friends of the Earth Hackney and one in Camberwell (Nov. 24) at House Gallery.

Also this month is the first North American Restart Party, at Hackerspace Tampa, where they have added a great reuse and recycling component. The Restart Party has even made local headlines.

In our Facebook group to support Restart Party Hosts, we now have 37 people from 5 different countries sharing tips, getting our advice, and preparing to host events together. Continue reading

We are the “inner circle” of the circular economy

We were privileged to get a slot at TEDx Brixton in July and we thought we would try to  say something that has been on our minds for a while.

The global conversation for sustainability in manufacturing is shifting to the “circular economy”, like at Davos, where the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has promoted the concept and the opportunities for companies in this field. Up until now, the focus of the circular economy has been primarily on design products for easier disassembling and recycling – the outer circle – which implies creating a closed loop of materials and in the case of electronics, recovering metals in our gadgets.

This is something only feasible at scale, something the big companies can profit from. The mainstream activities of the outer circle of the circular economy – shredding and melting — are very energy intensive, and the jury is out about how efficient they are. But more importantly, this kind of “outer circle” is hard for people to relate to on a human scale.

The “inner circles” of repair and reuse seem to have been fairly mute in these public discussions on the “circular economy”. For us, these are the circles where we can approach a future economy on a human scale: making sure that the products we buy are more repairable, long-lasting by focusing on creating local opportunities flourish for repair, reuse and refurbishing. This is where we can transform our reality.

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Dear makers

A creative fix at Central Saint Martins

A creative fix at Central Saint Martins

We thought we would share some thoughts with you. We’ve spent a year heavily invested in building communities of repairers. During this time we’ve attended a few Makerfaires, admired your work on Instructables, supported your work on Kickstarter. And we look forward to meet many more makers at Makerfaires in Manchester this weekend and in Rome in Europe.

We noticed a couple of articles on fixing and making (most inspired by this piece in Wired), and we thought we might just go ahead and start a conversation between makers and fixers.

Making is a primal instinct – in some ways more primordial than fixing. Who doesn’t remember “making” with sticks and mud as a child, or with empty yogurt containers, used toilet paper rolls, shoe boxes, playdoh, rubber bands. We made cities, robots, space ships, animals. We made art and presents for each other. Utility was rarely our motivation. Joy and wonder seemed to drive childhood making.

Perhaps it’s so obvious it doesn’t need stating, but everybody was a maker until our rigid educational systems drubbed it out of some of us.

These systems taught us utility tied to growth – about being successful, being productive and that accumulating ever more and better stuff was the ultimate reflection of one’s worth. Now some of us did not ever really buy into this – some kept on dreaming, making and creating for the sake of it. And some of us were even able to convince others of the indirect “utility” of this, and were able to make a living off of this. Both of these groups might identify as “makers”.

Yet others found ourselves, perhaps in their late 20s, perhaps even later, scratching our heads wondering where our profound alienation with “stuff” came from.

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Building a new economy, one repair at a time

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This week the Transition Network‘s Reconomy Project featured us along with 19 other fantastic projects in their newly published report: “The New Economy in 20 Enterprises”.

We were delighted to be selected among such inspiring innovators striving to invent new meaningful local economies: reskilling and creating jobs in our communities, while developing much needed services and products truly respectful of the environment. As the Transition Town movement has been advocating for a long time, achieving real change in our communities also requires creating new livelihoods for people, in food production as well as in transport services, renewable energy and retail.

Where do we fit in this picture? Repair and reuse of small electrical and electronics have been neglected for a long time, replaced by a throw-away culture and often wasteful recycling. In just over a year, with almost no funding and no paid staff members, we have demonstrated that a different approach in not only possible, but it is necessary and a lot of fun too.

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A visit to Millor Que Nou, an inspiring project in Barcelona

Millor Que Nou's electronic workshop

Millor Que Nou’s electronics repair workshop

As soon as you enter the headquarters of Millor Que Nou (which in Catalan means “Better Than New”), it immediately feels like people in Barcelona are well ahead of the curve when it comes to repairing and skill sharing.

This project started in 2009 and provides three main services: a monthly programme of repair training classes (running every day and covering all kinds of repair skills, from furniture to electronics, from bicycles to clothes); workshops with tools where people can self-repair their products as well as receive advice and troubleshooting from expert technicians – the same technicians who teach at the centre. Continue reading

Prototype with us

prototype

Used on CC license from Flickr user celinecelines

This Friday, we will pitch our platform to the Urban Prototyping Hackathon at Imperial College. The themes of the UPLondon Festival really resonate with The Restart Project: sustainability, the city and entrepreneurship. The platform we are proposing is at the intersection of all three themes – our aim is to create a space for the urban crowd to generate its own bigdata about where to repair, which will feed a future economy of maintenance and repair.

Please read more about our concept, and if you are a have skills in the areas of coding, mapping, UX, gamification, and service design, why not come along and help us prototype something really game-changing? (And potentially help us win prize money!)

A day at the Market

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We had a fun, blustery day at Brixton Market – our first – on Easter Saturday. We have been keen to pop-up in a market, to promote repair “elsewhere”. Our idea is not to take business away from local repairers, but instead to encourage people to repair and reuse in a place where they are receptive to new ideas. So the Give and Take Day organised by Brixton Market was the perfect opportunity. Continue reading