To Repair Fair volunteer Kathy Shannon, the moniker of "reduce, reuse, recycle" should be adjusted to include "repair."
After all, repairing items that can be fixed and renewed is a way of lowering consumption, and therefore protecting the environment. On June 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., "styrofoam guru" Shannon and another volunteer, Willard Chi, helped run the styrofoam recycling area at the second annual Lake Oswego Repair Fair.
The Repair Fair — put on by Clackamas County, the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network and the Master Recycler Program — provided not just a venue for styrofoam recycling, but for community members to come by and have their bikes, small appliances, clothing and other items fixed by local expert volunteers like Gordon and Meryl Haber, owners of local business Lakeside Bicycles. This event was the third repair fair in the last year in Clackamas County, and second hosted by the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, with the first being held last summer.
Dorothy Atwood, a member of the Board of Directors of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, worked with Stacy Ludington, a Sustainability Analyst for the Clackamas County Resource Conservation and Solid Waste Department, to put on this event. They both believe that repair fairs are a great opportunity for community members to save some of their stuff from the landfill and help the environment.
"It's neighbors helping neighbors, really," Ludington said. She told a story from a previous repair fair where a woman had her wedding band shined and polished by a volunteer, allowing her to view the inscription on it that had been obscured for years. That experience had a profound impact on her, strengthening her appreciation of repair fairs. "It's a movement. It's really cool."
Atwood concurred that repair fairs can help people save items of sentimental value, and also pointed out the environmental impact of these fairs; she estimated that individual repair fairs like the one held at the ACC can save up to a ton of greenhouse gasses from being put into the environment. She is very excited that repair fairs are a growing phenomenon. "Lake Oswego isn't the only community that does this," she said, adding that repair fairs are popping up across Clackamas County, with around one every month taking place during the summer.
LO Adult Community Center Administrative Assistant Pam Montoya helped facilitate the venue and the staff at the ACC, and she also took the opportunity to get the ACC's vacuum cleaner fixed. And it isn't just vacuum cleaners and appliances that can get repaired at events like this.
Willard Chi, one of the volunteers at the styrofoam recycling area, was hit by a car a while ago while bike riding, and paramedics had to cut off his sweater. He ended up speaking with Kim Rolfs, a volunteer at a repair fair, who connected him with some friends who were able to stitch his sweater back together. He now wears this beautifully redesigned sweater at repair fairs that he attends, saying that "you can take something
tragic and turn it into something beautiful."
For that matter, it wasn't just sentimental value that led him to want to have his sweater repaired. Chi believes that minimizing consumption should be an important goal for everyone, saying, "Your life can be just as fulfilling without all this stuff." If the sweater could be fixed, a new one wouldn't need to be made. If it isn't truly broken, why not have it repaired?
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