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‘Over the moon’: Repairing instead of discarding delights Shuswap residents

First of six Repair Cafes met with enthusiasm in Salmon Arm
Electronics specialist Jordan Adair finishes fixing a lamp for Cathy MacArthur at the Repair Cafe held in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Aug. 27. Adair said he was surprised by how busy it was. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

A broken butterfly made its way a mall in Salmon Arm last Saturday, where it underwent a long-awaited metamorphosis.

This small miracle took place at a Repair Cafe held Aug. 27 in the mall, where people could bring in broken items such as small electrical appliances, lamps, clothing and textiles, bicycles and wooden items.

For a donation, they would watch as volunteers with skills in certain types of repairs would take a look at their broken item and, if possible, repair it.

The repair person might recommend the purchase of a certain part and suggest they come back to the next Repair Cafe to have the part installed for them.

Maria Otting, Salmon Arm Economic Development’s program coordinator for the Shuswap Makerspace, organized the event, the first for the community. She was bubbling with excitement Saturday, thanks to the response from the public.

In the case of the broken butterfly, she recounts how a woman, probably in her late sixties or seventies, brought in a broken china or ceramic butterfly.

Her father had given it to her mother, and then her mother gave it to her, Otting said.

The woman had tried fixing the broken ornament with glue, but it didn’t hold. The butterfly had lain in a drawer, broken, for more than 50 years, Otting explained.

Then it was brought to the Repair Cafe, where it was epoxied and fixed.

“She was over the moon,” Otting smiled.

Lamps, both antique and modern, were the most common item brought in, but other repairs included a jewelry box, a mirror, a remote control toy, a vacuum cleaner, a DVD player and more.

“The whole day was so great – people were excited, so interested…The whole reason we’re doing it is to get people thinking in a different way,” Otting said about encouraging residents to repair rather than resorting to the landfill.

“It’s all about changing the mindset to have a more sustainable community.”

She said people are asked to stay and watch the repair as a way of passing on valuable practical knowledge.

“And showing people how much fun it can be to fix…Sometimes, the items are just full of dust and hair.”

Even a person with a sewing machine was there, ready to repair fabric items, including tents.

Otting said the Repair Cafe gets people out volunteering in the community, as well as visiting and connecting after the isolation of the past two years. They get to know who to call or where to go for repairs.

She plans to hold six Repair Cafes in total, one per month.
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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