2011-2012: Founders Janet and Ugo began discussing this project at a meetup in London of people working in ICT for “D” (d meaning development). We have worked cumulatively for 15 years in places where communications technology can make a massive difference – where simple mobile phones can often literally save lives in everyday situations. And we’ve seen that people relate with gadgets and technology in a completely different way in most of the places we worked – people have a greater sense of control and ownership over technology and a resilience in the face of problems. Everything is hackable and fixable.
What was troubling us more and more was not actually injustice and struggles of the “underdeveloped” places we worked in, but instead the attitudes and behaviours of people here back in our northern homes.
Watching people discarding devices because they ran “slow”. Watching people upgrade by simply buying new phones every nine months. We started asking ourselves: have we become passive, flabby consumers of technology? Have we lost our “repair muscle mass”?
June 2012: With no funding we began throwing “Restart Parties”, free community events that empower participants to extend the lifespan of the electronics they own, actively reduce e-waste. We realised that the only way to change things was to simply roll up our sleeves and get started, and to learn, evolve and grow alongside people who like what we do like the Transition Towns and Freecycle movements.
August 2012: We receive a crucial small grant from Project Dirt and Timberland Europe, without which we would not be here today.
January 2013: Our first dinner with our growing network of volunteer repairers, and creation of an email listserv for Restarters.
February 2013: Eight months later, we have had 16 events in a number of different venues – always concentrating on two communities, where we live, north Camden and Brixton. Every week, we are contacted by people from Mexico to Sutton to Sweden who would like to run “Restart Parties”.
March 2013: We are registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and we launch our first paid services, including sponsored Restart Parties, public speaking and trainings.
Future: We will be developing a number of important new activities and services to promote economies of repair and behaviour change in relation to electronics, while promoting the scaling-up of the “Restart Parties” concept globally. We see ourselves becoming a small but effective social business that allows us to nurture growing online and offline communities.