Don’t Just Replace It, Repair It



Repair Cafe, April 3, 6-8pm, Pakit Liquidators

When thinking about the concept, Re-think Waste, images of the massive dumpsites generated by endless consumption are easily conjured. When something is broken in our homes, it isn’t uncommon to put it out by the trash or possibly the recycle bin if it is paper, plastic, tin or glass. Denise Rowcroft of the Environmental Center and Rethink Waste project coordinator adds, “a lot of the stuff we buy is so cheap it doesn’t seem worth it to repair, but that just keeps us stuck in a consumptive cycle of buying more stuff – which costs us personally and globally.”

Fixing goods in need of repair isn’t always a practical solution because some of us don’t have the tools or skills necessary to do so. In an attempt to address this systemic barrier to re-thinking waste, Rowcroft has teamed up with Pakit Liquidators and various local masters of trade.

Their answer: The Repair Cafe, a space with resources to aid in fixing household goods that might otherwise end up at dumpsites. Seamstresses, jewelry technicians, electricians, carpenters, bike mechanics and more will be on hand for repairs such as, but not limited to, torn garments, damaged counter top appliances or vacuums, broken jewelry and wobbly chairs.

If joining the Re-think Waste movement in Central Oregon isn’t reason enough to participate in the Repair Cafe, hopefully collaborating with talented trades people of Bend will entice you. Last November, when I first heard of the Repair Cafe, I was ecstatic. As a bicycle commuter, the offer for free maintenance was too much to resist. I also had an ongoing backpack design project that had been sitting in the corner of my office for months and badly needed professional consultation.

The night of the event, walking into Pakit, I was immediately struck by the eclectic nature of the warehouse-like facility. For my design project, Alison Murphy of Utilitu Sewing and Design helped me gather, measure and cut all the necessary materials. Then Ben Lewis of Pinch Flat Designs enlisted his industrial sewing machine to commit the heavy duty stitching. By the end of the night I had converted a second-hand dry bag into a backpack and my bike was running better than ever. All for free!

Recently, Murphy explained her motivation to participate in the upcoming Repair Cafe during an interview. She challenged me to think of my broken goods in a new way. Murphy pointed to a denim piece she had sewn for a patron and said, “it’s not just a pair of pants, the interaction will shepherd all these other positive actions.” These community connections and repercussions for her work fuel a deep passion to deliver a quality product and the Repair Cafe is an outlet for her to express this creativity.

Local trades people and business owners scheduled to participate include: Utilitu (sewing), Gear Fix (sewing, bikes), Pinch Flat Designs (sewing), Castaways (sewing), Merry & Mod (jewelry) and general handyman volunteers. To maximize available resources for this community event, patrons will bring broken items and potential replacement parts (or cash to buy some on the spot). Ordering parts or further research might be necessary, therefore, we can’t guarantee all broken items can be fixed, however, everyone will get support moving projects forward.

The Re-think Waste campaign April 3, 6-8pm at Pakit Liquidators strives to link folks with broken goods with crafts persons who know how to fix them.

Denise Rowcroft, 541-385-6908 x14,,


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