Thank You for a Strong Year

team photo 2015Photograph by Emily Jasper

2015 has been a year of growth for Repair Cafe Toronto and we would like to take a few moments to show you how we are expanding and most importantly how we continue to meet the mission we set for ourselves two and a half years ago when we launched this new concept for the city.

We had our final café for 2015 on Saturday November 21 and once again our two repair rooms at Skills for Change were filled with greeters and fixers working with diverse visitors throughout the four hours. At this 29th café, we received 102 visitors who brought in a total of 149 items, the highest number in one cafe we have received since our launch in 2013! Check out event photos on our facebook page. You can also watch our latest video in which our fixer Michael talks about his favourite tool.

Mike fixing green toyPhotograph by Wai Chu Cheng

This past year, Repair Café visited new neighbourhoods in Toronto, from Rexdale in the west and Scarborough in the east to the south of the city in Cabbagetown. We can proud of the results we have achieved:

  • established a team of 72 active volunteers
  • offered 12 large repair café events
  • taught 1,007 visitors to repair their broken items
  • fixed 866 items and diverted a total of 1058 items from going into the landfill (a total of 2075 items diverted since 2013)
  • consistently received “4 out of 4” rating by visitors on their experience at the Repair Café; some rated even at 4+ or 5
  • supported two Repair Café events at Sheridan College, including the Oakville and Brampton locations
  • provided two trouble-shooting workshops
  • worked with Keilhauer, the furniture manufacturer, to help them divert 35 industrial sewing machines
  • were invited to speak at several conferences, meetings and environmental events around repair, sustainability and the circular economy
  • presented a deputation to the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to add “repair” to their long term waste management strategy

The Repair Café was launched in 2013 with the mission to change our society’s throwaway mindset and help people reduce needless waste.  When we look at our achievements to date, we are confident that we are on our way to fulfilling the Repair Cafe’s mission. Our events have been attracting more visitors and volunteers, and the growing support shows that the Repair Café model is resonating with our community. Our success comes from the Repair Cafe’s core values, which can be summarized as follows:

(1) create a free, safe and welcoming atmosphere accessible to the community where visitors may engage with fellow community members and learn about repair

(2) come together with volunteers and visitors in an open, generous and kind manner, where everyone is valued

(3) work collaboratively and partner with a diverse range of community groups to promote sustainability in a fun and inclusive manner

Dare to repair sign
Photograph by Lon Appleby

In the coming year, we will provide repair cafés in more library branches and develop more partnerships with local community groups across the city. Our 2016 event calendar is already getting full. In addition to the monthly large cafe events, we will be offering small cafes and repair workshops, and we are also working to recruit more volunteers as well as support local organizations to organize their own repair cafés.

Our Organizing Team is grateful for the commitment and generosity of our outstanding volunteer team. A big thank-you to our long time sponsors and community partners, Skills for Change, Toronto Public Library and Frank’s Pizza House, for supporting our mission and values!

If you are interested in joining the Repair Cafe movement by volunteering or sponsoring Repair Cafe Toronto, please email us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca. To learn about our latest events and news, feel free to subscribe to our email list by simply entering your name and email address in the form on the right bar of our home page.

Our first event in the new year is on Saturday January 23. It will be held at STEAMSLab. For more information, please visit the Upcoming Events page.

See you in 2016!

Another Record at Repair Café!

1 good_IMG_3314 good_IMG_3318The Repair Café visited the Don Mills branch of the Toronto Public Library on October 17. It was another successful café with a great atmosphere. We received 129 items in total, everything from computers, electronic devices and small appliances to jewellery, clothes and books. This is the highest number of items we have received in all of the 28 cafés we have held since we launched two years ago! Thanks to the great work of all of our volunteers! Almost 80% of these items were diverted from landfill.

At Repair Café, the visitors not only receive help from the fixers to repair their items, they also receive advice on how to do the repair themselves. Here is an example showing how Bennett, our experienced jewellery fixer, helped one visitor solve her pin problem. Click here for the video.

When visitors have their items fixed, they are invited to take a photo at Heather Ramsay’s booth.2a good_IMG_33702b good_IMG_33632c good_IMG_3361 2d_Heather_small

The photo above was taken by Heather. For more of her photos taken of visitors with their fixed items, please visit our Facebook page.

This time we had the assistance of six teen library volunteers who helped with greeting visitors, offering refreshments and measuring the weight of the items that was diverted from landfill.

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Photographs by Lon Appleby and Heather Ramsay

We would like to thank all the fixers and volunteers for your wonderful support. A big thank you to Don Mills branch for the generous donations of space and refreshments.

Don’t miss our next and final café this year! We will be back at Skills for Change on Nov 21. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you there!

 

Repair Café – High Five!

 1 IMG_0912_Erich and visitor clap hands

2 IMG_0915_Paul on fan

3 IMG_0907_Rene on Iron

5 IMG_0892_Jen and Christine

Photographs by Wai Chu Cheng

The Repair Café was back at Skills for Change on Saturday, September 26 for another successful four hour event. The positive energy in the room was noticed by a new visitor, Ilda Januario. In her article in the weekly Portuguese paper, Milénio, she wrote about how everyone enjoyed the repair process and the sense of satisfaction they gained in getting their items fixed. Below is the article. (An English version is included)

Download (PDF, 444KB)

To all our volunteers, thank you as always for your dedication and enthusiasm! A big thank you for the continuous support of Frank’s Pizza House for your generous pizza donation. And many thanks to Skills for Change for the great space.

Don’t miss our next Repair Café at the Don Mills branch of the Toronto Public Library. It will be held on October 17, from 12 to 4 pm. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page.

If you are interested in supporting the Repair Café initiative, please contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca .

Repair is a Process

Aug 15 cafe wide shot

bike fixers

On the morning of Saturday August 22, Repair Cafe visited Central Neighbourhood House on Ontario Street. We were received by the welcoming staff who helped us set up in their colorful gymnasium. The space was transformed into a repair cafe with the different stations marked with signage. A bike repair station was set up outside the entrance. As it got closer to the noon start time, volunteer fixers steadily rolled in with their toolkits and prepared their own worktables while the event volunteers at the registration table kept the lineup of visitors moving smoothly to their assigned fixers.

Throughout the four hours, visitors continued bringing in all kinds of items, including laptops, lamps, clothes, jewellery, books, bikes, among others. Every volunteer was busy with helping the visitors. Many visitors were happy as their items got fixed, including those in the photos below. More ”Fixed!” photos are being posted on our Facebook page.

Giles with visitor

Paul with visitor on umbrella

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little girl _bike

We have been asking our fixers to share with us the tools they use. At this Café, Pauline and Aaron were interviewed. Pauline is specialized in fixing jewellery items and Aaron is skilled at repairing appliance items. You can meet them and learn about their favourite tool by visiting our Videos page.

As in every Café, our dedicated fixers work hard to help the visitors with every single item. Both our visitors and fixers often tell us that one of the things they enjoy is not just getting something fixed, but the repair process itself. The process brings alive values that are important in building a sustainable and caring community  – learning, collaboration, mending. Repair is a learning process in which the owner of the item learns about the item’s components, how they work, and how to troubleshoot. Repair is a collaboration process in which the fixer and visitor work together to share and create knowledge about repairing. Repair is also a mending process in which our volunteers and visitors spread the spirit of kindness and generosity in the community. Michelle, one of our visitors said it well in her survey form, “Repair – great, learning – awesome, connectivity to community – priceless.” We are glad that our Repair Café community embraces these values.

We would like to thank all the volunteers who helped make this another successful event! Our fixers, event volunteers, bakers! A special thanks to Eduardo who made and provided the bounty of cinnamon rolls. And a big thank-you to Central Neighbourhood House. We are grateful for the wonderful sponsorship of Daniel et Daniel for the pastries as well as McCray Optical Supply Inc. for the donations of eyeglass hardware.

group shot with CNH

Photographs by Lon Appleby and Heather Ramsay

If you are interested in sponsoring or volunteering with the Repair Café, we would love to hear from you. We can be reached at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

In response to the increasing demand for Repair Café, we will be offering two events in September,  one on the 12th and the other on the 26th. We look forward to visiting two new Toronto Public Library branches this fall. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page. We hope to see you at Repair Cafe!

The Bell Rings at Repair Café

Video by Lon Appleby

On Saturday, July 18, the Repair Café was back at Skills for Change for our monthly event. We opened at 10 a.m and were happy to see returning visitors as well as many new ones. We had a great turnout of volunteers again. Our fixers tackled all kinds of items: small appliances, computers, jewellery, clothes, bikes, book and paper repairs, and more. Three rooms were busy as always and you could feel the positive energy of the fixers and visitors working together, spending as long as it took on each item to ensure it was repaired or at the very least effectively diagnosed. 

This month, we had a little something else as well. From time to time, you could hear a bell ring, which signaled that a successful repair had just been made. Two of our fixers, Tom and Tim, suggested the idea and brought their bells in to celebrate with everyone each new repair, however big or small, and the collaboration that occurs in the process.

Watch this video above in which Tom introduces the tools he brought to Repair Café this month. You’ll also have a chance to hear the sound of his special bell. For the event photos, please visit our Facebook page.

We would like to thank all the fixers and event volunteers sincerely for your help. And a big thank-you to the generosity of our long-time sponsors, Skills for Change and Frank’s Pizza House.

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Looking ahead….

The Repair Café joins the Regent Park festival on Sunday August 9. We will have a table set up from 12 to 3 pm with sewing repairs available. Thanks to the support of our wonderful sewing fixers, Sue and Christine.

For our August’s monthly café and the other events, please visit the Upcoming Events page for details.

If you are interested in sponsoring or volunteering with the Repair Cafe, we would love to hear from you. We can be reached at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

Repair Café at Elmbank Community Centre – Bring it on!

Video by Lon Appleby

On Saturday, June 20, Repair Café visited the Elmbank Community Centre in Rexdale. This was our first visit to the north-western part of the city. In spite of the longer distance, our enthusiastic volunteers travelled from different corners of the city to join us for this event. On the same day, the community centre was also hosting a flea market in their parking lot, so it was a busy day for the neighbourhood.

Once again, our skilled fixers tackled everything, you name it: lawn-mower, lamp, toaster, fan, shredder, flashlight, chair, sewing machine, umbrella, zipper, scarf, pillow case, bag, pants, necklace, book, computer, bicycle, shovel, even more.  For each of these items, our fixer explained to the visitor how the repair was done, so the visitor could do the repair themselves if it broke again. On our Facebook page, you can see photos of the items.

The video above shows the successful repair of a vacuum cleaner. Bill, a visitor from the community who had heard about Repair Café and arrived early with his wife, brought his vacuum cleaner which had been broken for more than a year. In the video, Ed, one of our appliance fixers, explains what caused the vacuum cleaner to stop working and what needed to be done. Ed shows Bill how to fix the vacuum cleaner himself. Enjoy the sound of the vacuum and Bill’s blowing hair!

Many thanks to the fixers and event volunteers for another great event. We would like to thank Elmbank Community Centre for your invitation and the support of your helpful staff. Thanks to local MP Kirsty Duncan and Deputy Mayor Vincent Crisanti for stopping by. And a big thank you to Domino’s for your generous donation of pizzas.

The Repair Café will be back to Skills for Change on July 18. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page.

Repair Café is Inspiration!

1 up_Cake cutting Anniversary

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Young girls with microscope

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0 - Repair Cafe by Anne Winter

Photographs #1-3, #5-6 by Lon Appleby
Photograph #4 (two young girls with microscope) by Heather Rampsay
Photograph #7 (“Repair Café”) by Anne Winter

Repair Café is going strong at its two-year mark. On Saturday, May 23, we were back at Skills for Change for our second anniversary event. In addition to our regular Repair Café, we had a special art show given by artist Anne Winter and a BBQ celebration in the afternoon with the volunteers, visitors, friends and guests. Thanks to everyone for making it another great event! A big thank-you to Skills for Change for providing a terrific venue. Joe Mihevc, City Councillor, and Annette Synowiec, Solid Waste Management Services, at the City of Toronto joined us as well. Thanks Joe and Annette for dropping by on this special day.

Not so long ago, a small group of volunteers came together to offer its first Repair Café at Skills for Change in Toronto. Twenty-two monthly cafes later, it was wonderful to see that our volunteer team has grown to more than 100, and so has the number of visitors. So what is the magic behind the success of the Repair Café? Here is a short video that was made last year in which a visitor, Gloria, captured this magic early on in her first experience with the Repair Café.

We would like to thank all our volunteers, including fixers, greeters, guides, bakers, photographers, videographers, communication specialists and event organizers. Through your commitment and enthusiasm in the last two years, you have made the Repair Café an inspiring and welcoming place. We would also like to thank all the visitors for joining the repair movement. As well, we would like to thank all our sponsors and partners, in particular, Frank’s Pizza House, Skills for Change and Toronto Public Library for your continued support!

Repair Café is looking for volunteers and sponsors to join us grow the Repair Café initiative. If you are interested in getting involved, please feel free to contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

In the coming months, Repair Café will continue to reach out to the different neighbourhoods. For the upcoming café on June 20, we will be in Rexdale at Elmbank Community Centre from 12 to 4 pm. You can find out more details in the Upcoming Events page. Please help us spread the word. Hope to see you there!

 

 

What a Blast!

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Video and photograph by Lon Appleby

On Saturday April 18, Repair Café returned to one of our favourite locations, the Toronto Reference Library (TRL). We arrived early in the morning to set up with Dawn at TRL and it wasn’t long before Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium was transformed into a Repair Café space functioning as a repair workshop that offered a variety of repair stations as well as a cafe for people to relax with a coffee and chat with each other.

An hour before we opened, a lineup of people with items to repair had already formed. Our team of general volunteers were busy receiving the visitors and directing them to their fixers. A big shout out to our general volunteers who helped make every visitor feel welcome and kept the flow of visitors in good order! They serve as the “needles” that weave the “threads” of the Café’s fabric together. They include the “greeters” at Registration, the “guides” who put visitors into queues and bring them to their fixers, as well as the photographers and social media volunteers who capture the happy moments when the items are fixed and promote the event through social media. The general volunteers also include those who set up and look after the snack table and deliver the pizza lunch.

Over the course of four hours, our team of 30 dedicated fixers met with a constant stream of visitors who brought in a variety of household items, from laptops and lamps to jeans and necklaces. Our book fixers repaired a few books, including a 1951 atlas. You can see the video above to learn about how our Andy and Faith mended the special book. More event photos will be available on our Facebook page soon.

This April Café was a blast. You could feel the positive energy from everyone. We had an excellent turnout of visitors who came from local neighbourhoods and outside the City of Toronto. To our terrific team of fixers and general volunteers, we cannot thank them enough for their enthusiasm, generosity and professionalism!

We would like to thank the Toronto Reference Library for their continued support in providing us with an uplifting space where broken items have been given new lives and diverted from landfill. Through our collaboration, we have shown our shared commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community.

And of course we thank our sponsors, Balzac’s Coffee and Frank’s Pizza, for their longstanding support. And a special thank you to Humewood Coffee Group and the volunteers and visitors who donated the delicious snacks.

Next month will be our second anniversary! We will be back at Skills for Change on May 23 for the 22nd monthly Café. This special Café will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be followed by a BBQ celebration party with our volunteers and guests. For details, please refer to the Upcoming Events page.

We are looking for volunteers of all kinds, including general volunteers, graphic designers and fixers. We are also looking for sponsors. If you are interested, please contact us at info@repaircafeotonronto.ca.

The Repair Café Hits Another Record!

wooden blinds correct

Video and photograph by Lon Appleby

Alex on white board_correct

hands working together_reduced

Bennetts station_correct

Photograph by Heather Ramsay and Lon Appleby

On March 21, we were back at Skills for Change in the St. Clair West neighbourhood. We hit a record high number of visitors this time! The first visitor arrived with a broken blender an hour before we opened. Another followed shortly after with baked snacks made by his wife, and so it went. By the time our doors were open, the seats along the walls around the fixers were filled with people from the neighbourhood and beyond, clutching their items and chatting with each other on a warm Saturday morning.

Many thanks to our fixers and volunteers, who were busy throughout the four hours. We were glad to have a list of people signing up to volunteer. Two visitors even rolled up their sleeves to start volunteering as fixers when they saw that we needed more hands to help.

Once again, our fixers worked their magic and repaired all kinds of interesting items, including the wooden blinds showed in the video above. For more event photos, please visit our Facebook page.

We would like to thank our sponsors, Skills for Change and Frank’s Pizza House, for your generous donations. A big thanks to our wonderful bakers Humewood Coffee Group.

Don’t miss our next Repair Café on April 18. We’ll be at Toronto Reference Library. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page.

Repair Café at HackLab – Awesome Collaboration!

Video by Lon Appleby

Our monthly Repair Café on February 21 was a Saturday that started with heavy snow. But the broken streetcars and slow traffic didn’t hamper the enthusiasm of our volunteers and visitors. Within half an hour, the HackLab was filled with people. This short video above was taken when we were half way into this four-hour event. You can get a sense of the action yourself just by watching it!

Below is a small sample of the many positive comments we received about our collaboration at the Repair Café.

“I knew it was going to be great. But this (event) was even better than I expected!” said Alex, who volunteered for the first time as a guide.

“I fixed this vacuum cleaner, which had presented a tough problem, but was solved by multiple heads and hands!” said John, our appliance fixer, who brought his brother to volunteer for this café.

“Today’s café was in a smaller space. But I needed and got a specialized electronic part for testing from the HackLab which wouldn’t be available in an ordinary location,” said Paul, an electronics fixer.

“I learned new things from talking to other fixers while working on the laptop together.” smiled Derek, a first-time volunteer, who is a computer professional.

Our dedicated team of fixers worked hard in helping our many visitors. The following photo was taken an hour after the event. Our fixers and HackLab were still working together on a motherboard!

 Collaboration at HackLab

Fixing a motherboard

We are thankful for the continued support of our wonderful volunteers. It is great to have new volunteers joining our team. We are also grateful to have our long-time volunteers who have been helping the Repair Café since our early days in 2013. They are the true enduring force behind the success of each Repair Café. Below are Robert and Judy, two of the amazing volunteers we are lucky to have.

Robert and Judy

Many thanks to our host and collaborator HackLab for the terrific space and snacks and most importantly for sharing your great creativity with our team. We would like to thank Frank’s Pizza House for your generous donation of pizzas and also Humewood Coffee Group and Rustic Cosmo Café for your wonderful baked goods.

If you missed the February Repair Café, our next one is March 21. We will be back at Skills for Change. Please refer to the Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you there!