By Mischa S. Webley, NECN Staff Writer
PDX Repair received fiscal sponsorship from NECN in 2017. We interviewed its founder, Lauren Gross, shortly after.
Hey Neighbor (HN): Tell us about your organization.
Lauren Gross (LG): Our mission is to spread repair culture. We do that by hosting monthly events called Repair Cafés where volunteers fix people’s broken items for free. Our goals are to repair items and extend their life, shift attitudes about getting something repaired instead of immediately throwing it away, and empower people to learn to fix their own items.
We were inspired by the Repair Cafés organization in the Netherlands, who began hosting events like ours in 2009. In 2013, several of us who wanted to make this happen in Portland, got together and started organizing. It’s been a rewarding process and we continue to love what we do.
HN: How has having NECN as your fiscal sponsor helped you achieve your mission?
LG: We are so totally grateful to NECN for agreeing to be our fiscal sponsor! For the past four years, we have been operating as a grassroots organization that is all volunteer run. None of us get paid, which means we have a very limited capacity to make things happen.
Fiscal sponsorship allows us to accept donations that we would not have otherwise been able to accept, which includes grants as well as in-kind donations. NECN also helps with admin and promoting our activities, which will definitely help build our capacity and allow us to do more!
HN: What’s been your impact so far?
LG: Since we began in May of 2013, we have hosted 44 repair cafes in the Portland area and fixed around 2,000 items. We have also helped other groups in our region get started. There are now similar repair groups that host events in Beaverton/Hillsboro, West Linn, Gresham, Milwaukie, and Vancouver.
Our events are more than just fixing things to keep them out of the landfill. They are about fixing people’s treasured items and building community in the process. The feeling of community that comes from volunteer and participant problem-solving and fixing something together is really special.
HN: What’s next for Repair PDX in the coming year?
LG: We would love to build our capacity so we can do more! We’ve already been a resource for other groups in our region, and we’d love to help more people host their own events in their communities.
In addition to continuing to host repair cafés, we’d also like to start hosting workshops and perhaps organize an apprenticeship type program where anyone wanting to learn repair can partner up with our volunteers to learn how to repair items. It would be wonderful to expose kids to tinkering and repairing things as well.You can find out more about Repair PDX at their website: repairpdx.org