Belmont Launches Fix It Clinic: February 9 (Also: fixers needed!)

Did your hair dryer suddenly stop working? Clock (or clock radio) on the fritz? Smart phone acting up? Don’t rush out to buy a replacement and definitely don’t toss that old electronic stuff in the trash (and therefore in a landfill)! That’s because Belmont will hold its first ever Fix-It Clinic on February 9th at the Belmont Public Library!

The clinic will take place from 1PM to 4PM in the community room downstairs. We’ll have fix-it coaches there who can help you repair everything from furniture and clothing to clocks, household appliances (toasters, lamps, etc.) to electronics like smart phones and computers. While drop-ins are welcome, you can do organizers and coaches a favor by registering in advance using this form and letting them know what you will be bringing with you to be fixed.

Just as important: if you have repair skills, we need your steady hands and tools to be a fix-it coach at our event. You can sign up to be one of our fix it coaches using this form.

A sign outside a July Fix It Clinic at Jamaica Plain Public Library in Boston. Fix It Clinics are grass roots organization that holds clinics across the country.

I worked with Terese Hammerle at Sustainable Belmont and Peter Struzziero at Belmont Public Library to arrange this clinic. This, after I attended a similar clinic at the Jamaica Plain library over the summer at the suggestion of Nathan Proctor at MassPIRG who is doing amazing work on promoting re-use and repair.

I can say: they’re amazing events that teach what amounts to lost arts in the U.S.: self sufficiency, frugality, ingenuity. At the event I attended, JP residents brought in everything from broken chairs and lamps to an air conditioner, vintage clock – even an electric toothbrush.

A repair coach works with a couple to repair a vintage clock at the July Fix-it clinic in JP. Belmont will host its first clinic of this type on February 9th.

As The Washington Post recently noted, Fix-It Clinics and Repair Cafes are part of a grassroots movement that – broadly stated – is pushing back against a “single use,” disposable culture. Even though Yankee ingenuity and frugality helped define our country (and especially New England) somehow the last 50 years has trained us all to think things like “Its probably cheaper to just replace it!” The environmental costs of doing that are huge, as are the economic costs to consumers. As folks like Kyle Wiens at the online repair site has noted: companies like Apple have worked hard to monopolize repairs of their devices, which is why they can charge you hundreds of dollars to replace broken parts that may only cost them pennies. Better yet: they can cajole you to just replace the phone with the broken $1 capacitor…a $700 or $800 “upgrade.” You don’t have to be an economist to recognize that that’s a bad deal for consumers. But, absent the ability to understand and fix devices ourselves, we’re really at the mercy of the “geniuses” at the “Genius Bar”

Fix it clinics and other events of that type are designed to short circuit this disposable culture and, in the process, empower consumers and save our environment from the scourge of e-waste and plastics. There’s already evidence that its working: Apple’s Tim Cook noted recently that iPhone sales are down because…wait for it…more people are fixing and servicing their phones. That may be bad news in the short term for Apple, but its good news for everyone else.

So come down to Belmont’s first ever Fix It Clinic on February 9th. Bring your broken stuff, or your repair know how, or some combination of those things and take part in an amazing community event.

See you there!