This is a 2-part discussion about improving practices in community repair. The introductions to both discussions are the same, but they then focus on different topics. This conversation is about promoting opportunities for learning
Community repair spaces are special. They create unique opportunities for learning about technology and reimagining our relationship both to it and to each other. They can bring people from all walks of life together and enable them to connect over a share desire to learn and repair broken things.
We create these spaces in world of structural inequality and in the context of an economy and a legal framework which doesn’t fully embrace repair (to put it mildly). On top of this, people expect things to be done fast, slowing down to learn and problem-solve is almost counter-cultural. Against this backdrop, creating a community repair space that promotes learning and inclusion is tricky but all the more necessary. It requires us to pay attention to lots of aspects of how we plan and run our events.
As a global community of repairers we have rich and varied experiences which can be brought together to help us accomplish this. Below are some of the themes discussed at this at Fixfest 2017, summarized in this blog post, and ideas for actions we can take to keep learning and improving.
Making it about learning
Handing over your broken electrical item for someone else to fix doesn’t give you any greater insight into how it works or how to approach a future repair. If instead we can teach people repair skills and thus help them relate to technology in a new way the potential impact on their future behaviour is much greater. Learning and teaching could be seen as the primary aims for a community repair event, ‘teach a person to fish…’ as the saying goes.
For more on this see the session notes from Peter Mui’s (Fixit clinic) 2017 Fixfest session.
A few key points:
- Break down the barriers/ hierarchy between the volunteers and participants
- Set up the space so that volunteers circulate and support multiple people
- Use venues associated with learning - such as libraries and schools
- Involve families
- Get your pre-event comms right - don’t advertise a free repair service
- Get the vibes right - make it a festive atmosphere i.e. not like a regular repair shop
Next steps & questions:
- We identified the phase when a volunteer first joins as a key time to build a shared understanding of their role as a learning guide so we’ve created this volunteer welcome session plan which you can use when inducting new recruits
- We’d love your feedback on how it goes
- If you have other materials or processes for on-boarding volunteers please share them