Repairing an old thing is a small act of defiance against disposable culture

Spend It Better: The Repair Acts project is documenting the social history of repair, as well as holding workshops and events

We are putting away childish things. As once-small people hurtle through teenagerhood, the days of getting out poster paints and whiling away some time seem long lost. So, how about a repair session? Could everyone bring something to the table and sit down together and repair it? “And children,” I can trill like Mary Poppins, “the thing that will set this apart from an especially dull 1970s day is that we can use my mobile telephone to tell the world about it.”

The Repair Acts project may not have been dreamt up with parents in mind. But for those of us still scarred from the mass home (un)schooling, it is a gift. With the help of its website, a satisfying rainy day activity is at your fingertips.

Ours was a small event. The eldest was busy repairing the state of their room. Another project needed parts ordered online. So our impromptu repair cafe featured one lone child, one torn jacket, one slightly worse for wear Mandalorian mask, and a hot-glue gun.

Geographer Alma Clavin and artist Teresa Dillon have been holding repair events around Westmeath where Repair Acts, one of 16 climate-related Creative Ireland projects, is based. I’m on the advisory board and am impressed with the project’s scope. They are documenting a social history of repair in the county, and holding listening and storytelling workshops and events. There is a lot of emotion in repair stories. Things become precious and worth repairing because the people who once owned them are gone. Childhood memories are in touching distance, often sparked by objects — the creak of the wicker lid on a granny’s sewing kit. Who didn’t love a button jar?

Back at our mini-event, our sewing kit was a lot more on the basic side. The child showed me how to do the blanket stitch. Ten minutes later, a picket fence of stitches fixed the rip. We called my project “winter Ready”. We called his one “Cracks in the Mask”. It was a microdose of contentment, some ducks fleetingly in a row.

Next Saturday, Repair Acts is hosting a DIY-with-Dave event with the Rediscovery Centre in Mullingar. Tickets are now available through Eventbrite and the Repair Acts website.

If you can’t make it to Mullingar you can upload two pictures to the website (an adult needs to do this for younger people’s work). Imagine the potential of thousands of repair acts, small acts of defiance in the face of disposable culture. Hashtag #RepairActs to show your work on social media as well as uploading it to the website. Trust me. It’s a bonding thing to do. #hotgluesummer here we come.

repairacts.ie

Catherine Cleary is co-founder of Pocket Forests