We help groups get started repairing electronics in their communities, record their data and now get involved with campaigning for more repairable products.
Ever since we started in 2012, we’ve been super open, sharing and testing our ideas with our community in London. In fact the reason The Restart Project became an actual charity as opposed to an informal association is that our volunteers pushed us to do more than simply host repair events, our “system change” project needed a more formal structure, a way to find resources and get stuff done.
Our system change project is not really about us, we felt we had to step into the breach and get started. But we would be really happy not to be the protagonists here, and if we can seed change, or help subtly change the direction of things, or even be a momentary catalyst, we would be very happy doing just that.
We are now a smallish organisation with the equivalent of 5 full-time staff, which may seem like a lot of people, but read on to get a feeling for all that we are involved in, from London to the UK, to Europe and globally. (Fundraising to sustain this activity has not been easy, in fact it took us years and years of failing before we got this far.)
Now that we’re here, our vision is that we have about +/-10 years left to campaign and significantly change product repairability and design policy at global level (through Europe), and if we decide to try to exist beyond that, it will likely be only in the area of education and working with young people.
Being a convenor: events, campaigns and alliances
We’ve played the role of convenor in recent years, helping in 2017 to start the Open Repair Alliance with an Open Repair Data Standard, and hosting the first-ever international community repair gathering, Fixfest 2017 in London.
Likewise, in an upcoming Right to Repair campaign on a European level, we have been working together with iFixit Europe, ECOS, and the European Environmental Bureau to convene various allies and outline a campaign and ensure that the voices of community repair groups are well-represented.
We are trying to learn how to share the work of collaboration and convening with partners, and where appropriate hand over.
The first real step towards this is that we are handing over the second international Fixfest this year to Runder Tisch Reparatur (the German repair roundtable). Learn more here!
Open everything: sharing software, data and learning
All of our software has been licensed as open from the beginning. It’s free and everyone is welcome to use it, remix it, build on it . We’re helping community repair groups in other countries localise our software and make it relevant to them, and we are constantly improving ways that groups can share their data.
Our Restart Party Kit has also been free and open since the beginning and will continue to be. All of our media is licensed the same way, where possible.
All of the data collected is downloadable and available to the public, although perhaps not yet in a way that is optimal for groups if they were to want to backup or save their data. We’re looking into “portability” of data, too, given that we helped create the Open Repair Data Standard that will help aggregate community repair data. (Perhaps another better app will come along, and you’d like to move there.) Related to this, if in case we would need to close, or radically scale down our support, you would be covered. We are really open to suggestions on this.
As always, we are extremely open to bright ideas, suggestions, criticism, call-outs at the pub (or online). We don’t take any of this personally and we see exchange of ideas and views as a really healthy part of any network.
The role of Restarters.net
Restarters.net has also been an attempt at “convening”. Our notion was that “Restarters” are everywhere, in every neighbourhood, and also hopefully in every local repair group and repair café. We thought this could be a shared identity, one useful in building a community.
However, since the beginning we have struggled with the question of whether to align the brand with our own , or to give it another identity altogether. (We also need to do a better job of providing useful materials for groups that do not call themselves Restarters or host Restart Parties.)
Do you have suggestions about how to name this network? This site? If you like its branding, please tell us too
Moderation and governance
We are also struggling with the question of how to build this community — and moderate it — together with members. We are pretty responsive to feature requests and questions, but we may not be able to sustain this for years and years into the future. This is something we are thinking about - a lot!
Would you like to get involved with moderation? Let us know!
We provide support to so many groups around the world who often have small questions or need a little encouragement. It’s becoming slightly unsustainable, and we need to have some serious reflection about network “structure” and how we might formalise peer to peer support, or some regional or decentralised support.
We’ve noticed recently that many repair activists in the UK are looking to help others in their region. And in smaller countries, groups have become de-facto hubs of expertise and help. We’d like to know how — or if — we can add value and support.
All comments/thoughts on this are very welcome.