The Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church was transformed into a makeshift workshop this past weekend as volunteers tinkered with tech, home appliances and more at the church’s first repair café.
Repair Café Toronto, a local, roving incarnation of an international DIY initiative founded in Amsterdam in 2009, brings together volunteers who offer free repair services every month. Volunteers with the group set up a three-hour workshop at the church at 1038 Woodbine Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 7.
“[For] the people who like fixing things, it’s a lot of personal satisfaction, it’s a lot of fun,” said Fern Mosoff, co-founder of this city’s repair café. “The chase of the fix is fun, the collaboration—the community experience of fixing together—is fun … It really appeals to the fix-it crowd.”
That community-centric approach appealed to the church, and it got connected with Repair Café Toronto when Sandy Yeun, one of its volunteers, stumbled upon an event taking place in Riverdale.
“It kind of reminded me of my dad’s generation,” she said of the do-it-yourself ethos that abounds at the events, which focus primarily on household appliance and clothing repairs but volunteers also take on other odd jobs.
Aaron Shindman, a software developer, is one of Repair Café Toronto’s approximately 500 volunteers, and at the events he regularly uses skills he learned while studying manufacturing engineering.
A part of the group since it began in May 2013, Shindman has his reasons for coming back again and again. What appeals to him is “taking things apart, maybe fixing them—if you’re lucky,” he said.
Jessica Beketa, who recently moved to Toronto from Vancouver, came to the handy café to get an amp repaired and also because she had started a similar initiative, Repair Matters, in her former home city.
“It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about because I believe in it from an environmental perspective,” she said. “Everyone sees recycling as a really good solution but repair or reuse is always one-up.
As well as fixing items like Beketa’s, the volunteer group takes on apprentice fixers so they can learn new skills from someone more experienced. “Because it’s a very collaborative repair experience, people share knowledge,” said co-founder Mosoff.
Those who missed the event can catch the next Repair Café Toronto at Albert Campbell Library at 496 Birchmount Rd. in Scarborough on Nov. 25 from 12 to 4 p.m., or at its new storefront location inside the Toronto Tool Library at 830 St. Clair Ave. W. every Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.