A bi-weekly talk show by The Restart Project, plus a monthly documentary series produced by brilliant podcaster Dave Pickering, based on fixing triumphs, heartbreaks and wisdom shared at our community repair events – called Restart Parties – here in London.
We go into real depth about good and bad design, obstacles to repair of electronics, emotional aspects of ownership, environmentally irresponsible business models, and the “end of life” of our gadgets.
This podcast is for you if you'd like to fix your relationship with electronics. Let’s rethink, restart.
Restart Podcast Ep. 82: No need for new toys, we have Team Repair
We’re officially in the holiday season now and like many, we have presents and toys on the mind. For our December episode, we spoke to Anaïs Engelmann and Megan Hale from Team Repair. They run a 12-month fixing programme that could be a perfect gift for any young person in your life.
Starting fixers young
The team of Team Repair is composed of five design engineering graduates who are linked by their passion for reducing e-waste. Their company aims to introduce and teach children about repair and sustainability, each month sending them a new gadget to fix. These gadgets include hand-held game consoles and remote controlled cars – its such a fresh and engaging approach to capturing children’s minds.
Anaïs and Megan explain to us how they came to repair at different stages of their lives, proving that it is never the wrong time to learn these crucial skills. They believe that getting children interested in repair early is integral to inspiring our next generation of fixers and repair-friendly designers.
Another lovely aspect of the Team Repair model is encouraging generational skill sharing. Whether it is parents helping their children with the repair kits, or Team Repair themselves going into schools. At Restart, we recognise how important this skill sharing is in teaching younger people and also not letting this knowledge be lost to time.
Building in circularity
They tell us how a key feature of their project is building circularity into their work. It is not necessarily a popular approach with investors but Team Repair recognise the importance of this aspect of their work. In an effort to solve the issue of e-waste, it only makes sense to reuse the gadgets that they send out.
Their hope is that by educating children on repair and waste reduction, these skills will come in handy when Right to Repair legislation also moves forwards in the coming years. It’s a hope that we definitely share and are working towards making a reality all the time.
Team Repair’s fixing programme is such a cool concept and we cannot wait to see how it develops and what other toys there are to fix!
Learn more about Team Repair
Find them on Instagram and Twitter
[Photos courtesy of Team Repair]
Restart Podcast Ep. 81: Launching the new Fixing Factory
This month, we spoke to Restart’s Shelini Kotecha and Possible’s Dermot Jones about Fixing Factories. We’ve been working with Possible to open up two Fixing Factories this year, gathering lots of interest along the way. The Brent Factory, based in the Abbey Road waste facility opened in April this year and has been a hub for laptop repair and reuse. At the end of October, we were excited to finally open the Camden site, on Queen’s Crescent high street. Queens Crescent Fixing Factory will fix any small electronics and get lots of new people into fixing.
The new Camden Fixing Factory
Dermot tells us about the wonderful celebration that marked the opening of the Camden Fixing Factory. It was a great community showing, with neighbours coming together and sharing homemade food and knowledge with each other.
He also tells us about their plans for making the Fixing Factory self-sustaining, including some creative ways to get artists involved in adding value to repaired items. The opportunities for involvement are seemingly endless and span a wide range of fixing abilities. Dermot also does a shout out for the evening repair club, which provides a fun space for tinkerers who want to get started in their learning or take on more time consuming repairs.
Learning from each other
We’ve learnt an incredible amount over the last months working at the Brent Fixing Factory. Shelini shares with us some of the lessons that have come out of the project. She also highlights the power of our volunteers in shaping what the Fixing Factory has become. Both Shelini and Dermot make it abundantly clear that this is an ever evolving process, and that everyone who is involved is helping mould it into the best version that it can be. The Camden site will be shaped by the months of experimentation already done at the Brent site. But with a different type of location and more opportunities for public engagement, there are also a whole raft of new lessons to be learned.
They share some wonderful stories of how the Fixing Factory project has affected both volunteers and patrons alike. From helping exchange students find inner-confidence to encouraging a member of the public to further advance her education in fixing. It’s stories like these that give us inspiration as the project progresses.
Read more about the Camden launch
Restart Radio: Introducing Fixing Factories
[Images by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 2.0.]
Restart Podcast Ep. 80: Voices of Fixfest 2022
From 30th September – 2nd October, members of the repair community from all over the world gathered together to share their ideas and passion at Fixfest 2022. From fixers and tinkerers, to academics and activists we all had something to teach and learn from each other. It was a chance to explore new ideas, hear different perspectives, and – perhaps most importantly – interact in person for the first time in a while.
In this episode, we wanted to make the most of this rare opportunity. We spoke to 7 Fixfest attendees about where repair is now and where they hope to see it in the future. You’ll hear a host of different voices including:
Clare Seek from Repair Café Portsmouth, UK
Nathan Proctor from PIRG, USA
Melina Scioli from Club de Reparadores, Argentina
Leanne Wiseman from Griffith University, Australia
Purna Sarkar from Repair Café Bengaluru, India
Mathew Lubari from Community Creativity for Development (CC4D), Uganda
Mike Kavanagh from Repair Café Pavia, Italy
What does Repair Everywhere mean to you?
The theme for 2022’s Repair Day, also celebrated this October, was ‘Repair Everywhere’, and we wanted to know what this phrase meant to our community. To some it was an aspiration, a desire for repair to be visible everywhere – in schools, community centres, in our media, on high streets, and even in prisons. For others, it represents the overwhelming prevalence of repair in our lives and culture. Our speakers argue that it’s not that repair isn’t happening, rather that it’s not being highlighted as the essential tool that it is.
Repair’s impact on cost of living
The cost of living crisis has been all-consuming recently. We know that repair and reuse will be integral tools to tackle this issue and help those who cannot afford to buy new. But we’re curious to know how this presents in other parts of the world.
Looking to the future of repair policy
We also delved into the state of the Right to Repair movement across the globe. We are all at different points in our fight for a real Right to Repair. For some, the movement is almost non-existent in their country. Mathew tells us how excited he is to be the first person to bring this issue to light in his country. In the US, it seems that public opinion is in firm support of Right to Repair, now it’s time to push for this right to be legally supported and protected. Leanne tells us about the burgeoning movement in Australia, and the steps that have been taken by their government to put the wheels in motion on what the Right to Repair could look like in their country.
Ultimately, we’re all at different stages of our journey towards Right to Repair. But one thing that Fixfest showed us is how united we are in the goal of bringing back repair.
That’s a wrap – Fixfest 2022
‘We Will Fix It’ from Fixfest 2022
Our previous interview with Mathew Lubari
[Feature image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 2.0.]
Restart Podcast Ep. 79: eSpares wants you to clean your filters
This month, we had a very handy conversation with some friends from our sponsor eSpares. Eleanor Cochrane and Mariya Peynova are the Brand Manager and Social Media Manager for eSpares, respectively. We took this opportunity to properly introduce our listeners to their work and also answer a few questions about household repair and maintenance. In the process, we learned that there is probably a lot more regular maintenance that we should all be doing.
This advice came at a perfect time, as we’re encouraging everyone to give their things a new lease of life in the lead up to Repair Day on 15th October. You can learn more about how we’re celebrating and get involved here!
Dare to repair
First, we chatted about how eSpares are empowering their customers to fix their own stuff. They tell us about the trove of repair manuals, tutorials, and more that can be found on their website. Eleanor also shares her own stories of initial DIY repairs and her experience of the concerns that many beginners will have. They hope that the content on their website and the support that they provide will give customers more confidence to give repairing a go.
“What we do try and do is educate people about their rights…this should be something that they’re entitled to. Choice is something that we should always have when it comes to machines that we have bought.”
We discuss accessibility of spare parts and the way that consumer calls for repairability have progressed over recent years. Mariya posits that due to the rising cost of living, people are more keen to repair their things. They also share an anecdote which proves that this is definitely the right thinking. One of their customers managed to repair a second-hand range oven and save thousands of pounds in the process. Eleanor and Mariya use these types of stories to prove that repair is really possible for everyone (even if manufacturers make it difficult on purpose) if you have good support and learning materials.
Maintenance: a very good place to start
In the second half of the episode, Eleanor and Mariya answer repair queries sent in by the public. They share the most common and first port of call fixes that are likely to be causing the problem. A lot of these fixes are related to maintenance of your machine. They recommend that you regularly check the filter of your washing machine, tumble dryer, and vacuum cleaner. It’s a super helpful reminder and encouraging that a relatively small fix can be the answer to your machine working 100% again.
If you want to attempt any of these fixes or something more technically complicated, the information and help that you need are on the eSpares site. Eleanor tells us about all the channels that they are using to spread repair information and tutorials. There are so many written tutorials on their website, or if you are more visually inclined they also regularly post on their YouTube channel and TikTok account.
The key take away from our chat with Eleanor and Mariya is: don’t be afraid to try repair. Even if you’re not feeling confident now, there is a plethora of information out there and often, someone to offer moral support along the way. Now go clean those vacuum filters!
* eSpares website
* eSpares YouTube
* Try one of these fixes on Repair Day 2022
Restart Podcast Ep. 78: Meet our new(ish) Co-Director, Fiona Dear
To wrap up our summer season, we’re giving listeners a proper introduction to Restart’s new(ish) Co-Director, Fiona Dear. You will have heard Fiona’s voice a couple times on Restart Radio in the last few months, and her fingerprints are all over the new projects that we’re working on. Dave spoke to Fiona when she had just joined Restart to have a conversation about how she became the perfect fit for her new role.
A journey through repair
Starting out as a student of repair, Fiona tells us about the differences between experiencing Restart Parties as an attendee versus organiser. Fiona’s repair background is mostly in the realm of mending and upcycling. She tells us about her rather swift introduction to electrical repair after having to repair her phone only weeks after joining Restart. It was a challenge but with the help of both our community and professional repairers, she managed to successfully save her device. She shares how this experience opened her eyes to the importance of in-person repairing and learning from one another.
Conservation at home and abroad
From Costa Rica to North London, Fiona has been making change. She shares her experience of studying conservation of Scarlet macaws in the rainforest and the winding path that led her to focus her masters dissertation on human behaviour.
In her own neighbourhood, Fiona has also been making change. She has campaigned for a low traffic zone, introduced regular Play Street sessions, and organised a waste reduction project. This work in her personal life only shows how massive her impact will be at Restart. Through this, in addition to intensive experience working for The Climate Coalition and on Great Big Green Week, she has built an in-depth understanding of how to engage and mobilise the public.
Shaping the future of Restart
Since she started at Restart, Fiona hit the ground running working on Fixing Factories. With one location already open in Brent and another coming to Camden in the fall, it’s an incredibly exciting project with some brilliant partners involved. The project allows us to push for digital inclusion while engaging further with the public – hopefully, inviting more people into the repair community. A perfect way to pursue Fiona’s goal of making repair mainstream.
“It’s still evolving…it’s all about extending the life of electronics. What’s coming to the fore now is reuse – laptop fixing and redistribution during the pandemic. You’ve got a lot more companies selling refurbished tech now.”
We also discuss the new directions that Restart’s work is moving in. Much of our current work like repair events, the repair directory, data work, are of course, focused on repair. Now though, we are making renewed efforts to support reuse. Fiona explains how this will come to fruition in new projects with palpable excitement.
* The Climate Coalition
* The Great Big Green Week
* Fixing Factory
* Restart Radio: Introducing Fixing Factories
[Feature image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 2.0.]
Restart Podcast Ep. 77: Reflecting on our first 10 years
It’s a bumper episode this month but how could it not be when we’re celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our first Restart Party! This episode is an auditory snapshot of Restart as we head into our second decade as an organisation. Earlier in the month, we got together with volunteers, allies, longtime collaborators and supporters to celebrate the last 10 years. While we were there, Dave caught up with some of our guests for a moment of conversation and reflection.
Back to the beginning
So first, how are we all feeling? Ugo and Janet both reflect on the initial goals of Restart and why they started the organisation. They were inspired by their work in the Global South and witnessing how people kept their things going – often out of necessity. Seeing this in contrast to overconsumption in the Global North, pushed them to bring that approach to the London community. Ugo discusses how surprised he was by the enthusiasm they saw at that first event and how it has only continued to motivate our work since. From our founders to trustees, looking back on the last decade is emotional and rewarding.
“We figured out that it was entirely possible, doable, and actually quite exciting and fun. And that has been always at the heart – making sure that it is fun, it’s inclusive, it’s engaging, and it increases your own confidence in trying to repair and save things from getting lost and wasted.”
Ugo says that Restart’s aims have not actually changed very much in the last decade. Rather, they have scaled up and found other avenues through which to make change. While the community events that Restart was founded on are still key to our strategy. So is Right to Repair campaigning, data interpreting and system change at scale.
How has fixing impacted you?
We hear from trustees and historic volunteers about their favourite moments of Restart and their favourite fixes. The overwhelming answer seems to be: all of them! And there is a clear sense that what is gained from community repair is not just the working device but the knowledge gained and skills shared.
“Whatever you are fixing, it’s just as much fun…Even if it’s a simple fix, somebody goes home happy. You got home happy because you found something interesting out about something, had a nice chat with someone. That’s what the important thing is the human relationships.”
Ugo gives praise to our volunteers for always being here to help us learn and grow. Whether it is explaining the technicalities of repairs, to providing essential feedback on how best to run events, our community are vital.
Feeling proud of the past, and looking to the future
Ugo shares some of his proudest moments in Restart’s last decade. He highlights the policy gains that we have made and the growth and influence of Right to Repair across Europe and elsewhere. We have a long way to go but we are more than ready to take this work on. He points out that we will not achieve our goal by relying on manufacturers to make altruistic change. Rather, we need to push lawmakers to legislation that guarantees our Right to Repair. This way, we can reduce waste and make a dent in the massive challenge of the climate crisis. (We’re also super happy to hear that the podcast itself has been influencing policy makers!)
Janet also highlights the need to work more with young people. Whether by upping numbers of younger attendees at events or training the next generation of professional repairers. This work has already begun with the Fixing Factory project and partnerships with amazing organisations like Mer-IT. Getting the public and new faces involved is a big part of how we hope Restart’s message can continue to grow.
Thanks to Janet, Mike, Fidi, Sophia, Ben, Panda, Dave, and Stefania for talking to us. And thank YOU for being a part of Restart in the last 10 years &#...
A missing voice in the world
I am so glad there is a team of people working on these issues and even bringing abolitionism into the spectrum of issues that face the mass consumption of gadgetry. Smart and brave hosts. Thank you!