The Power of Repair

Do you have a favorite repair shop? You know, somewhere you go because you actually trust them with your stuff? I do! Well, I have several. But, hands down, my favorite is Mike at OMG?!? Computer Repair. He has kept my laptop going with minor repairs, saves and a few upgrades. When my computer finally displayed the dreaded “blue screen of death”, he gave me recommendations on a computer that would suit my needs and be easy for him to keep repairing long into the future.

There is a growing “repair movement” afoot that is empowering people to make their stuff last longer.

You might be surprised at how economical it is to take your broken object to a local repair shop. There is a teeming economy in our region based on the repair industry. Simply Google tailor, alterations, furniture restoration, cobbler, computer repair, or lawn mower repair and you’ll likely find a nearby business that is ready to help.

Or perhaps you are a do-it-yourselfer. Basic repair can be surprisingly easy and creative too. How-to classes and online tutorials can help you improve your sewing, bike or home repair skills quickly. YouTube has an endless supply of resourceful people who have uploaded their success in fixing just about anything that has broken. includes a forum where people upload step-by-step instructions on fixing everything from your smart phone to your coffee maker. iFixit even sells parts and tools that might be necessary to do the job.

Many Master Recyclers have participated in the Repair Fairs or Repair Cafes which are free community events that bring volunteers who like to fix things together with people who have broken items that need fixing.

The repair community is not without its challenges. Products are increasingly made with flimsy parts, don’t easily open and are not interchangeable, so you are stuck working with the dealer or manufacturer. iFixit’s Self-repair Manifesto demands the right to products that are easy to repair and information about how to do so. iFixit founder Kyle Wiens further points out that these demands are essential for local repair shops to stay in business. The more that products come with proprietary parts, the less players get to participate in the economy.

Tapping into this network of resourceful people has allowed me to extend the life of my stuff. Meanwhile, instead of investing in a growth economy based on new consumer goods made in factories far away in conditions I don’t even care to imagine, I am on a first name basis with members of my community who are helping me meet my basic needs.

In what Juliet Schor calls the “Economy of Plentitude”, people are busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work and spend cycle. Many are setting up shop as fixers. These pioneers' lives are rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity, and community.

Juliet Schor explains, “It’s a way of life that’s rich in creativity and autonomy. This movement is taking place in cities, small-towns and in rural areas. It’s not back-to-the land, it’s forward to a technologically advanced, knowledge-intensive way of life that is providing not only food, shelter and power, but also security, community and true well-being.”

You can join this economy of plentitude with acts as simple as going to your local cobbler instead of the mall to seek new shoes (although my favorite cobbler is in a mall).

You might be surprised to find yourself a new friend.


—J Lauren Norris