Widgets and wires,
Sparkles and jewels;
Spindles, staples and
A wide range of tools.
If you’re guessing that this is a witch’s chant, you could be partially correct. Because the results of Washington State University’s (WSU) Sustainable Community Repair CafÃ© are nothing short of magical.
The WSU Repair CafÃ© is a free-to-the-community repair service with sustainability as its mission.
The doors to the cafÃ© opened at 10 a.m. sharp Saturday morning in Cougar Auditorium at the WSU Snohomish County Extension Education Center, located in south Everett just off 128th Street Southwest on the grounds of McCollum Park.
A convivial group of “clients” were greeted by WSU Program Coordinator Heather Teegarden, who described the cafÃ© as “a joyful event.” Once checked in, the clients chatted among themselves while waiting to be paired with volunteer “repair specialists.” Clients brought with them a wide range of worn down, broken or misunderstood items ranging from sewing machines, to bicycles, to lamps — and even one witch.
The witch was carried into the cafÃ© by Edmonds resident Mertisce Anderson. Elegantly attired (particularly for a witch), the figurine spins and cackles when operating properly. A Christmas gift from her daughter, the figurine currently cackles, but no longer spins while casting its spells.
As Mrs. Anderson was waiting her turn to share her dilemma with a repair specialist, she chatted with Teegarden, revealing that she is a 93-year-old Edmonds resident who has lived in the city since 1985.
“All the friends I had when I moved to Edmonds are gone now, so I keep busy with the mermaids,” she said.
Obviously a fan of mythical characters, Mrs. Anderson explained that “the mermaids” are actually the members of her Harbor Square Athletic Club water aerobics group. The busy nonagenarian also “lunches with the ladies” on a weekly basis.
Rather quickly, Mrs. Anderson advanced to the repair table of Allen Brown, a repair specialist and self-described Renaissance Man. His career is in facilities management and he has volunteered for two of WSU Extension’s Repair CafÃ©.
“Let’s first check for loose wires,” Brown suggested as he inspected the Halloween-themed treasure.
While Brown was concentrating on repairing the witch, mother-daughter duo Verona and Carol Montgomery were thanking Teegarden for the services of the Repair CafÃ©. The Montgomerys, who are Stanwood residents, had brought two lamps in for repair.
They expressed their astonishment that their check-in with the receptionist plus repair of both lamps had taken a mere 18 minutes.
A number of Snohomish County community volunteer groups were represented at the Repair CafÃ© including the Clothing and Textile Advisors (CTA). Besides participating in the CafÃ©’s sustainable community program, CTA’s volunteers provide clothing, textile and needle arts education to the public. The organization offers summer tutorials to young people under its “Camp Stitch-a-Lot” program.
On the other side of the CafÃ© was the bicycle repair area of Edmonds resident Larry Williamson. A long-time volunteer for Sharing Wheels, Williamson was removing the tires from a bicycle that had a broken frame. Williamson was quick to point out that Sharing Wheels readies bicycles for economically disadvantaged children through the Christmas House program.
Sharing Wheels is gearing up for a busy workshop as the holidays roll toward us. Volunteers with mechanical skills, or those interested in learning bicycle repair for the purpose of volunteering their time are encouraged to contact Sharing Wheels.
The Repair CafÃ©, a feature of WSU Extension’s Sustainable Community program, is underwritten by a grant from Snohomish County Solid Waste Management department. The Repair CafÃ© movement, which began in the Netherlands, has become a global sustainability phenomenon.
Hours for the next WSU Extension Repair CafÃ© are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 10, in the same location: 600 128th St. S.E., Everett.
Pre-registration for November’s CafÃ© is encouraged by contacting Heather Teegarden at either 425-357-6027 or by email at email@example.com.
— Story and photos by Emily Hill