From vacuums to vanities, the Ithaca Fixers Collective makes use of their skills and talent in repairing goods that would have otherwise ended up in landfills.
In 2012, Bruce Johnson, a founding member of the Fixers Collective, received an interest survey from a neighbor who was involved with the Finger Lakes ReUse Center to see who would be interested in a repair collective. The survey received public enthusiasm, giving birth to the Fixers Collective. Since then, the organization has logged over 2,000 unique visits in its record-keeping binder.
The collective meets every Saturday afternoon in the Ithaca ReUse Megacenter to repair damaged items.
“You get to meet people that… hate to throw things in the landfill,” Johnson said. “So we share that.”
Members of the collective fix anything that can become broken — including furniture, appliances, clothing and countless other belongings. To test repaired electronics, power strips hang from the ceilings in the fixers’ meeting room.
Roger Christian, a local carpenter and veteran, attends the collective regularly and specializes in repairing furniture of any kind. Motivated by his hatred for landfills, Christian repairs broken furniture that would otherwise be discarded.
While living in Florida, Christian witnessed firsthand the impact of landfills on populations firsthand, such as the birth deformities prevalent among migrant laborers subject to landfill conditions.
“Where did the laborers stay?” Christian said. “They stayed in the shanties which were located over landfills.”
Aside from the uniting anti-landfill sentiment of the collective, its members said they have more reasons for being involved. The communal support of like-minded people plays a role in Johnson’s continued attendance.
The Fixers Collective has ambitions to spread its mission around the city. Last month, the Collective was invited by the Finger Lakes library system to a gathering of all 33 of its libraries. At the gathering, the collectives explained their cause to libraries that expressed interest in beginning repair cafes of their own.
Offshoots of the Ithaca Fixers Collective are already in the works. The Community Quilting Center will launch on April 23 in the same room as the Fixers Collective.
“Our mission is that we want to open the door to quiltmaking for all, regardless of resources,” said Brigid Hubberman, one of the Center’s directors.
Similar to the Fixers Collective, the Community Quilting Center is also waste-avoidant. All of its fabrics are sourced via a donation from Peggy Dunlap ’59, according to Virginia Freedman, one of the Quilting Center’s leaders.
Regardless of background, experience or occupation, the Fixers Collective invites all members of the Ithaca community to join them on Saturday afternoons.
“If you’re even remotely interested in learning or saving something, you’ll fit in,” Johnson said.
Christopher Walker is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected]