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Repair Café Initiative Launches in University District

A new initiative is launching in the University District that aims to promote a “fixer culture” and offer residents the opportunity to gain some new skill sets.

The City’s Recycling Department has partnered up with the University Heights Tool Library, University Heights CoLab, and Knowledgefire to launch the “Dare to Repair Café” – a free community event where individuals can bring in their broken items and work alongside volunteer “fixers” to repair them. In the process, new skills are acquired, community is built, and fewer fixable household items end up in the landfill.

According to Darren Cotton, Director of Community Development and Planning at the University District Community Development Association, the concept of the repair café originated in the Netherlands and has expanded to over 30 countries and 11 states, with the goal of promoting a culture of reusability. While the emphasis on reducing household waste is a key part of the repair café concept, the opportunity it presents to learn and build relationships while tackling a repair is equally significant.

“It’s not just about fixing things,” Cotton said. “It’s about building community.”

The partners hope to launch the first repair café at the University Heights CoLab this fall. If it proves to be successful, they plan to expand their reach by offering a mobile repair café at various locations throughout the city. They will be looking for volunteer “fixers” who can bring a variety of repair skills to the table, whether they be trained professionals or simply members of the community who have skills to share, such as sewing, bike repair, etc.

Those interested in volunteering as fixers or engaging in the planning process can attend a meeting today at 4:00 p.m. at the University Heights CoLab, 9 W. Northrup Place. Those unable to attend who would like more information can email

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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