The Repair Workshop, organized in partnership with Repair Café Toronto, has been offering training on how to repair everyday electrical appliances. On the concluding night of the four-week program, in celebration of how far they had come, the participants received an award and a dinner. During this last session, it was clear how much the enthusiasm for fixing things had grown amongst the group. Initially, all of the participants had first joined the workshop out of personal interest, but now they are leaving the program with a desire to continue to learn more and pursue their passion.
This program aligns with The Corner at 240’s core goal to create a space which uniquely delivers on embracing the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Repair. As there has been much recent debate regarding the efficacy of recycling, this hub aims to promote more sustainable practices, something which is particularly relevant in the current context of climate concerns.
The instructor and co-founding member of Repair Café Toronto, Paul Magder, explained how the philosophy of these Repair Workshops follow four key elements: promoting sustainability, promoting community, education, and sharing knowledge. He emphasized that “everyone who is training is going to be the new fixers”, highlighting the curricular process of knowledge transferred from teacher to participant and on wards, ultimately creating a “growing community of fixing”. Paul described the community-building aspect as being particularly “powerful”. He described how at some of their bigger events, there has been a “buzz” as people work together and interact. The “buzz” was even evident at this workshop, especially when a table would declare that an item had been fixed. Lots of consumer items today are never produced in order to be mended, hence, this workshop also educates people on how to be responsible consumers.
When talking to participants of The Repair Workshop, I found that everyone had learned something new through participating in this space, regardless of how much prior experience they had. This is because there is no limit to what is repaired. There is no project which is not attempted. In my short time there, I saw a radio, an iron, a heater and a calculator being repaired. The process of learning, as one participant told me, is as simple as taking these items apart and putting them back together again; “learning how to do things here, you break it eight times and the ninth time and the tenth time you learn”. The repetitive act of this learning technique creates a meditative space through which relationships are built. In watching two men dissect a radio, I saw the silent bonds forming of equal trust and respect. Both men had to hold each end of the radio to try and carefully wedge it apart and piece it together again. They sat like this for nearly two hours and although they remained quiet, it was through this silent language of Repair that forged their connection. Thus, this innovative learning space not only welds physical things together, but people as well.