The Repair Revolution

I don't like to shop. This is particularly funny-strange because I am in the business of persuading people to buy. Also, last weekend I attended / co-hosted a sashiko workshop  about mending one's clothes in a way that renders the stitched and patched results even more visually arresting and emotionally satisfying than the original. The workshop does double duty in my eyes (and heart) – it both teaches a useful craft (in the vein of knowing how to make fire, change your oil, or effectively deploy duct tape) and creates space for community, conversation, and slowing down. It honors hand work, which is soul work.

So imagine how delighted I was this morning to read an article in Fast Company (written by Catherine Crawford, dated March 30, 2017) about Jamie Facciola and her new co Repair Revolution.

Repair Revolution sounds like a mash-up between  Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford (highly recommended – I'll lend you my copy if my friend Corey ever returns it) and Frau Fiber's Sewing Rebellion and everyone's favorite grandfather-aunt-uncle-family friend who taught them how to do something that's actually useful. (In comparison to me, who is ideally evolved to work in the 21st century economy and who will be the first to succumb if our electrical grid goes down.)

Repair Revolution "takes your broken stuff—clothes, furniture, televisions, you name it—and outsources it to local expert fixers. As the group says on its website, 'Buy what you love. Fix what you buy. Love what you fix.'”

Repair and mend touches on deeply human and traditional acts of making. The Japanese practice sashiko, boro, and kintsugi – just to name the few textile and ceramic arts I am familiar with. each of those practices attend to creating something beautiful from what has been broken or torn. There is something spiritual and restorative in the act of mending – we do the work of repairing relationship, why not do the work of repairing objects? Facciola is quoted, "There is a really cool thing happening right now called visible mending. It’s about celebrating the repair. Why are we always trying to hide it? Why is this not a badge of honor?" Amen to that!

The idea of a "circular economy" pays attention to the true cost of things. Facciola again, "If we were actually paying the true cost of pretty much anything—shoes, oil, clothes, food—things wouldn’t be as inexpensive as they are.  And that’s not entirely a bad thing if that means that we are producing more quality goods with quality jobs, and people are taking better, longer care of the things they own, and they respect those things because it took more to get them.

Nobody wants to be a repairman, and that’s a big aspect of what Repair Revolution is trying to do: change the narrative. Repair is a skilled job, and we can bring that integrity back, in the way that we’ve done with makers."

Repair Revolution wants to "win consumers’ hearts and minds by improving the optics of the experience" – by playing into the age of artisan craft. We like homemade things. We like locally sourced things. We need to design things well, and alter our behavior and expectations (i.e., that everything can be delivered by tomorrow. That you no longer need to actually talk to the person you’re buying something from. And that things are to be thrown away when they are no longer useful.) and teach ourselves instead to celebrate the repair.