Salvaging Stuff Community-Style!

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Anna Puleo leans forward to carefully embrace the antique clock that has stopped marking time. Across the table, its owner waits patiently, observing the process by which Puleo, a volunteer Repair Coach at the first Repair Café in the Town of Tusten, NY, examines and ultimately restores the beloved clock to counting time again. As the minutes pass, the pair converses quietly, sharing a connection that is satisfying to both—and characteristic of Repair Cafés everywhere.

Puleo learned the art of repair by watching her father—a diesel mechanic at the JFK Airport for 51 years—fix things. Concerned about the impact of our tendencies to toss, she began collecting discarded vacuum cleaners, restoring their functionality and giving them away. Following the Repair Café she wrote in an email, “I had a blast and it was wonderful meeting like-minded folks. We proved we CAN help the Earth through our actions.”

Community members like Kristin Curtis toted more than 50 items to the first-time event, ranging from delicate jewelry to garments to a large Adirondack-style chair. Most were successfully repaired, according to organizer Jill Padua.

Some folks received assistance to begin a repair, and are welcome to bring the item to a future Repair Café for continued work. Others received a free basil plant along with advice on plant care from Star Hesse. The Western Sullivan Public Library hosted a table of repair-related publications and local foods were contributed.

The Repair Café concept originated in the Netherlands in 2009 by Amsterdam-based journalist and publicist, Martine Postma, and has since been replicated many times. Volunteer repair experts perform repairs free of charge and many items return to functional use instead of landing in a landfill.  (Visit repaircafehv.org to learn more).

The Tusten event was launched in Narrowsburg, NY, by Jill Padua and a dedicated group of volunteers. Padua was inspired by Elizabeth Knight, a friend and former resident of Damascus, PA, who launched a Repair Café in Warwick, NY, after moving there.

Future Repair Café Tusten dates are planned for April 27, July 20 and November 9, with support from the Town of Tusten, Tusten Energy Committee and the Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact Padua at 845-252-6783 or visit Repair Café Tusten on Facebook.

As a longtime proponent of sustainable living practices such as repair and reuse, SEEDS is exploring possibilities for a Repair Café on the Pennsylvania side of the mighty Delaware River. If you’d like to get involved, contact SEEDS Executive Director Sandy Long at Sandy@SeedsGroup.net or 570-245-1256.

For additional recycling resources, visit neparecycles.com, a partnership project launched by Wayne Tomorrow (https://waynecountypa.gov/255/Wayne-Tomorrow) and supported by SEEDS.