Good Work New York vlogcast season 1 episode 12

Good Work, New York!

Good Work, Kathy!

Good Work, Kathy! (S1:E12 of Good Work New York Vlogcast)

On Good Work New York we're talking to our friend Kathy from the Rockland Conservation & Service Corps about the Repair Cafe initiative in Rockland! Thanks to the support of Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority, the County of Rockland, Repair Coaches and ALL our amazing volunteers for making Repair Cafe happen! Learn more about our local Repair Cafe by e-mailing or calling 845-364-2932. You can also go to a great website about Repair Cafe - Hudson Valley

Charlie: Hi there, Charlie here. Communications Manager for Cornell Cooperative Extension. This is my pet project Good Work New York. A podcast where we're talking about all the good work that happens here in Rockland County, the Hudson Valley, and New York State. Today I have with me miss Kathy. Say hello.

Kathy: Hello!

Charlie: Miss Kathy, would you please introduce yourself?

Kathy: I am Kathy Galione. I work with the Rockland County Youth Bureau. I run a program called the Rockland Conservation and Service Corps, and one of our projects in that one is the Repair Cafe.

Charlie: The Repair Cafe is actually what I asked you on here for today. Now I'm participating in this event a couple times.

Kathy: Yes

Charlie: So I'm going to pretend like I have no idea what's going on just for the sake of the audience. So a repair cafe. What is that? Do I come and get a cup of coffee? Like how does this work?

Kathy: A repair cafe is a free community event that started actually in the Netherlands and it was such a great model that it was brought over here in the United States. It's a free community event where people can bring broken but beloved items to be fixed for free by people we call repair coaches- who are probably your neighbors.

Charlie: So these repair coaches, are they experts? Are the professionals? Is this what they do for a living? Or they may be just people who know a lot about that?

Kathy: Its kind of both. Some people are professionals in the community. Like one of our repair coaches is Howard Hellman of Albright Electric. He is our lamp fixer extraordinaire, and so it runs anywhere from that to people who just love what they do. They love to woodwork on the weekends or in your case do jewelry repair and jewelry fixing. So we get everybody.

Charlie: Great. So now the kind of objects that can be repaired, should on the scale of like my grandmother's phase that smashed into a million pieces to the vase that just has a chip in it that I don't know what to do with? Where do these objects fall?

Kathy: So the objects could be anything, but chances are if we do an assessment of something and we don't think that we can fix it in a reasonable amount of time like 20-25 minutes we might t say to you 'hey, we can't fix this'. It's all a good-faith effort to fix something. So your grandmother's vase with a chip in it was is a higher likely to be fixed then the smashed lamp. But we get all kinds of things, and really the the types of items that are brought in they have to be able to be brought in by you. We can't guarantee repairs, but we really do have a lot of fun just trying to get those things fixed. And our repair coaches are usually never-say-die people that really really, really try.

Charlie: So I would assume that anybody who knows enough about something that they feel comfortable fixing it could volunteer to be a repair coach?

Kathy: Absolutely. I just want people who feel like they can make a good-faith effort to fix things. And usually even if somebody has a certain skill set they're paired with somebody who might be able to complement that work, that skill.

Charlie: Great. So now these repair cafes, I know your initial goal was to do one in each of the five towns in the county?

Kathy: Yes.

Charlie: And we've pretty much gone five for five.

Kathy: Yeah.

Charlie: And so what's the future of this event?

Kathy: The future is to continue to, you know, have repair cafes in the towns throughout Rockland. They tend to be on the bigger side we usually do it in a cafeteria size place or gymnasium size place but libraries are really interested in having Repair Cafes and they may be a little bit smaller but they might have the opportunity to do niche items. So whereas we are typical repairs are woodworking, electrical, digital devices, jewelry, sewing, then toys and games. Also libraries might be able to do niche items like musical instruments or bicycles or shoes. So that's one of the things that we hope to do we may do it in conjunction with Healthy Haverstraw at the end of 2020. In which case we'll have a lot of spanish-speaking people who might be able to do repairs. So we have that. That's really exciting, and what are the number one things that happens after a repair cafes, we get a lot of calls from seniors who wouldn't mind if somebody could come come to them because accessibility is an issue. So maybe we might be able to bring it on the road somehow, you know, to address the senior population or people who are disabled or veterans that would be really exciting to me.

Charlie: Great. so all-in-all, it sounds like this is a no downside type thing because we have people in the community helping their neighbors, sharing their knowledge, possibly passing on skillsets.

Kathy: For sure.

Charlie: Then of course there are the other benefits, like the positive environmental impact.

Kathy: For sure.

Charlie: Now what what are those benefits exactly?

Kathy: Well in addition to their reskilling, which is amazing because we give the opportunity to talk about the repairs as we're doing them. So people who bring their item can listen to how things are repaired. It's a great opportunity for young people to come and have that reskilling, but in terms of the environmental impact, is gigantic. We work in conjunction with the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority, who is a co-partner in this, and you know through working with them we've learned that e-waste is the biggest waste stream. It's the one that's growing the fastest. So we are diverting that by repairing our items instead of throwing them away. We're diverting it from the e-waste waste stream and landfills. We're also able to kind of have- it's a right to repair kind of issue too we don't have that right or it's diminished. Manufacturers gain economically by just selling you a new item rather than fixing the old one. They have proprietary rules, they don't write manuals anymore. So we aren't able to even try to fix things. So this provides that opportunity too.

Charlie: Great. So it sounds like on the whole people bring in an object that has something wrong with it, that keeps you from using it, and they walk out most of the time with the fixed object, and they don't have to throw it out. So it doesn't go into the trash can. It doesn't get picked up by the carters. You're saving the environment from all the gas and the disposal and all of that kind of nasty stuff.

Kathy: Yeah. For Rockland, when something is thrown out in your garbage it has to take a over 360 mile trip to the local landfill. And then that trucks got a return empty. So it's over 700 mile round-trip that your garbage takes to get where it's got to go.

Charlie: So it sounds like we're having a really big impact, and this is all volunteer, right?

Kathy: All volunteer.

Charlie: There's no cost?

Kathy: There's no cost at all to people some repair cafes do take donations for parts. We're able to provide parts for now, but it's completely volunteer driven and you know sometimes when you don't have to pay for something do you have to kind of pay a little bit with your time. But I think that in terms of that component of it, the benefits far outweigh the time that you would take

Charlie: Definitely.

Kathy: And you do have coffee there while you wait. And great people to chat with. And there's a lot of great interaction in the exchange ideas. It's a really dynamic place.

Charlie: It's a very good community building event as well.

Kathy: Yeah.

Charlie: Because these people that might have the same type of object or whatever. I know, speaking as the jewelry repair person, sometimes someone will bring something in and while I'm repairing it the person who's waiting will be like 'Oh my mom had one of those!' and then out of nowhere this whole connection begins. And it's a really good event, and I really suggest you check it out. We're gonna put a link to the facebook page for the Rockland events so you can follow that and find out when the next one will be. Which I think is going to be in the spring?

Kathy: Yeah, the spring. Probably early May.

Charlie: Great and we'll also put a link to the Hudson Valley Repair Cafe website.

Kathy: Yeah. Because if you don't catch it in Rockland you can probably go to one in Warwick or New Paltz or Ossining. There's lots of ones in the Hudson Valley.

Charlie: Great and also if you're interested in possibly being a repair coach, I very much suggest you reach out to Kathy. I'll put in her contact information in the description. And you really don't have to be an expert. I know some of the things that I fix in the jewelry station, i I know just this much more than the person who brought it in, and I can fix it for them. And I don't have to be a professional to do this.

Kathy: Yeah, you can be a weekend tinkerer. Those tend to be our best our best folks to be repair coaches. And we really super appreciate you Charlie, as well as our other repair coaches - who are just worth their weight in gold.

Charlie: And I appreciate you for coming on and talking about the Repair Cafe and we'll be back next week with another episode of Good Work New York and that's some good work New York. Bye! English (United States)

Last updated December 13, 2019