Volunteer Paul Jones surveys a broken brass table lamp.

Fix it, don’t ditch it at Buffalo’s Dare to Repair Café!

The fixes were flying this past weekend at Buffalo’s first ever Dare to Repair Café hosted at the University Heights CoLab. Nearly a dozen and a half items passed through the doors on Sunday and accounted for more than 200lbs of waste diverted from local landfills. Download a full report from the event.

“We’re hoping to build off the success of the first repair cafe by aiming to divert a quarter ton of ‘waste’ by the end of the second. It’s not just about repairing, but getting people to change the way they see their trash while building a new group of people willing to share their knowledge and expertise to continue the trend of fixing rather than ditching,” stated Joe Kurtz, Founder of the University Heights CoLab.

A pressure washer gets dissected by two volunteers
A pressure washer gets dissected by two volunteers.

For those unfamiliar, the Dare to Repair Café is a community event where individuals can bring broken household items to the repair cafe and have volunteer “fixers” try to repair the item alongside them for FREE! While there is no guarantee that an item can be fixed, participants are sure to learn something new and have fun along the way. The Repair Café concept originated in the Netherlands and has quickly spread to communities across the globe.

Volunteer fixers specializing in bike repair, sewing, small appliance repair, tool repair, window repair, and general household repairs were on hand for the event. Christiana Limniatis, Director of Preservation Services at Preservation Buffalo Niagara, used several old window sashes from the CoLab’s basement to demonstrate the proper technique for reglazing old wood windows.

Volunteer Dave Harter from Knowledgefire looks over an attendees bike.
Volunteer Dave Harter from Knowledgefire looks over an attendees bike.

Dave Harter, Founder and Director of Knowledgefire, a hands-on learning focused nonprofit on the West Side, brought his mobile bike repair kit out to the event to offer tune-ups and teach attendees a thing or two about bike anatomy. Chip Blenk, a retired engineer from Lancaster who was referred to the Dare to Repair Café through Erie County’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), was one of the most popular fixers of the day, turning the lights back on for nearly half a dozen broken lamps.

“Dare to Repair is not only an exciting initiative because of its mission to reduce waste and rethink our disposable culture, but it also shows what is possible when City departments, neighborhood organizations, and community members come together around a common cause,” said Madisen Hughes, an AmeriCorp VISTA member in the Mayor’s Office

Volunteer fixer Chip Blenk with one of many happy repairees.
Volunteer fixer Chip Blenk with one of many happy repairees.

The Dare to Repair Cafe is made possible thanks to a partnership between the City Of Buffalo ( Buffalo Recycles), Knowledgefire, University Heights CoLab, and University Heights Tool Library. Volunteer support was also provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Material costs for the events are being covered through a grant from LUSH cosmetics.

Tool Library members and volunteer Eric Borenstein tests the voltage of a circular saw.
Tool Library members and volunteer Eric Borenstein tests the voltage of a circular saw.

The City of Buffalo continues to look for ways for our residents to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill”, said Susan Attridge, Director of Recycling.

Have a lamp that won’t light? A vacuum that sucks at sucking? Or maybe just a bike that’s seen better days? Don’t ditch them! Bring them on down to Buffalo’s second Dare to Repair Cafe happening on October 21st from 10:00AM – 4:00PM hosted by Knowledgefire and located at 839 West Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14203.  

For additional information visit thetoollibrary.org/daretorepair or please call 716-851-5014.