COLONIE – Colonie residents now have a place to go with their broken stuff.
The Town of Colonie and the Colonie Library will host the first-ever repair cafe to teach participants how to fix many household items on Saturday, April 22.
The mission behind the repair cafe is to reduce waste and extend the life of possessions people have in their homes. This process will save space in a landfill.
“It will be an event that all ages will be able to participate in,” Head of Programming for the Colonie Library Elissa Valente said.
What is a repair cafe?
The repair cafe is a free meeting space where people can learn how to repair things together. At a cafe, people can find tools, materials and resources available to utilize and make repairs.
The participants are paired with volunteers that have repair skills in many areas and teach others how to fix broken items. These items could be anything from clothes, furniture, electrical items, bicycles, jewelry and toys.
Although The Town of Colonie is debuting their first repair cafe, this event is not a new thing for the Capital Region Valente noted.
“When we did reach out for other repair cafes, there were actually quite a few in the Capital area, but there’s not one that’s necessarily region-wide,” said Valente.
“It’s something that can bring the whole community together across our region to get that help.”
Even though it’s considered a repair cafe, it is not exactly a repair shop.
“It’s not a repair shop. It’s not something that somebody’s going to come in and get something fixed. It’s something that they’re going to learn and be able to keep that knowledge with them,” Sean McGuire said.
Last summer, Sean McGuire, Director of Planning and Economic Development and his team at the town approached the Library with the idea.
“ We met to talk about what a repair cafe is, how we would go about doing it, and worked together to create the call out for the coaches,” Neale said. “It’s been a collaborative process that’s been going on for about a year.”
According to McGuire, the library has been fantastic partners all along in many different ways in terms of programming, but it has been an especially good partner by being a busy hub of activity.
“Peter Crummey, Town Supervisor, told the planning and economic development team to get to work on more climate-smart activities and our team talked to the library,” McGuire said. “Once again, our team re-ignited that partnership with the library and so, we’re going to have the first-ever repair cafe in the town of Colonie.”
According to Valente, library staff put the official call out for volunteers in February. Many community members reached out and agreed to volunteer. The library staff held an orientation for volunteers explaining what they could do during the event and what skills they could bring.
Volunteers will be stationed inside and out of the Stedman Room of the library. Teen volunteers from the community will be on hand to assist young children in using tools to put together a project designed for little hands at a special station.
“A lot of the coaches, voluntarily on their own, are bringing whatever equipment or supplies they may need,” Valente said. They’re donating some things like buttons, screws, nuts, and bolts that they might need to use to repair something,”
McGuire said he hopes younger people will come out too and bring something in and kids have a chance to take things apart and see how they work on the inside.
“We just want them to do it with the kits we have here and not necessarily going home and taking things apart. That curious mind needs an outlet,” McGuire said.
The Town of Colonie and the library will solicit donations from local businesses to try and provide some common things that volunteers might need to make the most of the repairs.
Making Colonie sustainable
“We want to sustain small businesses in our community by teaching people how to repair the things they have and use the local resources that they have available. It all ties together,” Neale said.
The Repair Cafe is a collaborative effort on part of the Town and the supervisor to provide the community with an opportunity to learn so that they can be more sustainable and environmentally conscious, Neale said.
“Where the Town is geographically, and the number of people that pass through, we have a chance to set the bar, set an example for others, and for the community to take away that we also care about,” McGuire said. “Our society isn’t disposable. There are things that we should do proactively to give things new life.”
“This is better than a YouTube video,” McGuire added.