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If it’s broken, they will fix it at Repair Café in Wyandanch

Laurie Farber of Wyandanch is bringing a Repair

Laurie Farber of Wyandanch is bringing a Repair Café to Long Island. Volunteers fix broken items for free to help reduce wastefulness. The idea is based on a concept created in Amsterdam. Credit: Raychel Brightman

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” the adage goes. If it is broke, Laurie Farber wants you to keep it and bring it to a Wyandanch church to be fixed for free.

Farber is bringing an international movement known as a Repair Café to the hamlet. At the cafe, residents with broken or inoperable items — ranging from lamps and bicycles to televisions and computers — are matched up with “repair coaches” who have an expertise in some area, such as electronics or jewelry. The Wyandanch location is the first one on Long Island.

“The idea behind it is, repair it, don’t trash it,” Farber said.

The movement is the brainchild of journalist Martine Postma, who was seeking ways to create more local sustainability and opened the first Repair Café in Amsterdam in 2009. In 2011, she created the nonprofit Repair Café Foundation, which provides professional support to groups that want to start their own cafes. There are now 1,300 of them around the world, with more than 40 in the United States and at least nine Repair Cafés in New York State, according to the nonprofit’s website, repaircafe.org/en.

After taking part in a webinar about the cafes earlier this year, Farber, of Wyandanch, searched the website and found the closest one was in Ossining, in Westchester County.

“There was nothing down here at all, so I said, ‘OK, I’m going to do it,’ ” she said.

Farber said the concept appealed to her because it’s a way to reduce trash. She cited studies that have shown that nationwide, 4 1⁄2 pounds of waste per person is produced each day on average, and that on Long Island, the amount is 7 pounds per person.

“They [researchers] always say how in the United States we produce more trash than anywhere else in the world,” Farber said. “If Long Island is more than that, that to me says we’re one of the most wasteful places in the world, and that’s disturbing.”

The cafes are also places of learning. Those who bring in items sit with the volunteers to find out how they are being repaired. Because it is a cafe, people can come by to just sit and have a cup of coffee, Farber said.

The Repair Café will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at the parish hall of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, at 1434 Straight Path in Wyandanch. Farber held the first Repair Café in June, but scant publicity resulted in only 20 participants and five repair coaches.

She is spreading the word early this time to get more residents and volunteers and, ultimately, build momentum to have even more Repair Café events. Farber said she has already received calls from others on Long Island who are interested in starting their own cafes.

“People were so eager to get their stuff repaired, they’d say, ‘I have a broken lamp at home, I’ll be right back,’ ” Farber said. “People wanted to stay and see what would happen. That conversation builds community, too.”

For more information on the event or to volunteer, contact info@starflowerexperiences.org

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