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June 5, 2018 > Fixit Clinic provides collaborative community repair

Fixit Clinic provides collaborative community repair

By Zoya Hajee

The very first Fixit Clinic took place on December 1, 2009 at the City of Albany Recreation and Community Services. Participants rushed in with their broken items; the majority of them consumer products with mechanical or electrical components such as vacuum cleaners and sewing machines. Excited to engage in the repair process, participants interacted with qualified Fixit coaches to troubleshoot issues with the products they brought in. After the session, they left with a fully repaired item, along with the essential skills and knowledge to repair similar types of items in the future.

Frustrated after noticing all the repairable objects that are simply dumped into landfills, Peter Mui started Fixit Clinic as a way to combat this issue. ÒThe best thing we can do for our planet is keep things in service for as long as possible,Ó he said. He owned various tools in his house that the average person wouldnÕt keep and realized many of them were used to fix common household appliances. Mui wanted to make them available to more people. His clinics strive to make available the specialty tools necessary to open various household appliances and provide assistance with the repair process.

Fixit Clinic has grown since its first event with more than 20 clinics across the United States, including the Bay Area, Orange County, and San Diego, as well as several in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, and Ohio. In Alameda County, six clinics will be held over the course of five months. Each clinic has a huge turnout of participants. Normally, around 30 items are signed in at each event; the most they have ever had was 140 items. Participants usually come in with more than one item to get repaired.

These clinics create an environment of collective learning, discovery, and sharing of knowledge. The coaches empower participants to use critical thinking to investigate the problems with their broken item and guide the repair process using their tools to implement fixes. Coaches are solely volunteers who signed up on the program website to fill their leisure time with repair work; not much prior knowledge is required, as long as interested coaches are passionate about teaching people how to fix instead of doing the work for them. Coaches are encouraged to bring their own unique tools or basic toolkits to perform the guided disassembly, where they instruct participants on how to open their broken items to find the root cause of the problem.

The public is welcome to take part in this troubleshooting and discovery process at the upcoming Fixit Clinics in Castro Valley Library on June 23, San Leandro Library on July 14, and Fremont Library on September 29. Participants must bring in their broken item with all parts necessary to assemble it into working condition, as well as a clear explanation of whatÕs wrong with the item and what theyÕve tried already. They may also bring along helpful tools such as sewing supplies and hand tools like pliers, hammers, and screwdrivers. The Fixit coaches will work with participants, investigating their items on the spot. Along with common household appliances, people have brought in Geiger counters, densitometers, and even a backpack for parrots. ÒItÕs kind of like improv,Ó said Mui. ÒYou never know what the publicÕs going to bring.Ó

Through their guided disassembly of the broken items, attendees explore their relationship to consumption of products and their sustainability through reparations. Fixit Clinic was created to debunk the seemingly difficult applications of science and technology, and these nationwide clinics, with their international aspirations, strive to nurture technological innovation in people all over the globe.

For more information, visit

Fixit Clinic
Saturday, Jun 23
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m.
Castro Valley Library
3600 Norbridge Ave, Castro Valley

Saturday, Jul 14
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m.
San Leandro Library
300 Estudillo Ave, San Leandro

Saturday, September 29
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m.
Fremont Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd, Fremont

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