Ep. 102 - The Tumbleweed Tree - A Beacon Series Interview Ft. John Wackman & Elizabeth Knight, co-authors of "Repair Revolution: How Fixers Are Transforming Our Throwaway Culture" by New World Library
Sometimes an episode release date aligns perfectly with a special occasion that makes the content of the conversation even more relevant. As it turns out, my conversation with John Wackman and Elizabeth Knight, co-authors of the new book Repair Revolution: How Fixers Are Transforming Our Throwaway Culture, would be one of those episodes.
Each year, as we approach the Christmas-New Year season, my mind lingers on the incessant pulling-and-hauling that is about to begin, the vacillation between the acquisition of shiny new items, and the inevitable shucking of used goods, many that were perhaps obtained only a year before. I've struggled through these seasons for a long time, and anyone that has been willing to lend me an ear during this season has probably had to suffer through one of my diatribes about re-sanctifying this time of year, redirecting our energies on peace, mercy, and goodwill toward others, instead of another perpetual round of trinkets and gadgets that will bloat the landfills of tomorrow.
My personal practice is something I call "secondhand sacred," which, in short, means finding spirit, fresh meaning, and new uses for forgotten, discarded, and broken things. I was happy to find many alignments to this practice in Repair Revolution, and even more during my visit with John and Elizabeth.
The crucial element of this revolution comes in the form of "repair cafés," which are essentially gatherings of generous fixers and tinkers with a variety of expert skills at fixing our stuff. As John and Elizabeth explain, people line up at these repair cafés with their band-aided and broken items.
Whether it's a shirt that needs mending, a blender that won't blend, a record player that won't play, or a lamp that won't light, it seems there is no end to the knowledge and willingness of fixers to teach people how to bring their cracked and crooked items back to life. Not only do people get their items repaired, but they learn firsthand how to make these fixes themselves.
It really is revolutionary, yet so simple, this idea that someone can be taught how to make a simple repair, seek out the parts and extend the life of their utilized and treasured belongings. Beyond the transfer of know-how, John, Elizabeth, and all the fixers and tinkers get to hear the stories attached to so many of the precious items that come through the doors of the repair cafés.
There are many items in my life that have moved from a simple utility, transformed into the stuff of legend through the life that wielded it. Maybe you have items like this; a sewing machine, a rocker, a hammer, a skillet, or pot.
It is certainly easy to click through and have a new item delivered to you, but just because we can doesn't mean that we should. There is a cumulative impact on our environment when we live this way, and I would go further still and say that it also has an impact on our souls.
Maybe, the repair revolution isn't just about fixing our broken belongings. Maybe, it's also about repairing ourselves and the fractured relationship we have with our belongings and world.
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