Five years ago, a small group of people gathered in a pub in London and brought new life to an alarm clock, a Nokia phone and a printer. They were driven by a sense that our relationship with electronics is broken and that through repair, they could fix not only devices and prevent waste but also empower themselves to truly think different.
Now, some 500 parties and 3,600 successful repairs later, this vision has inspired hundreds of us to divert over 8,000kg of e-waste and prevent over 150,000kg of CO2 emissions. Just as importantly, we’ve helped over 8,000 people think differently about their electronics. This is the Restart community – a growing network of fixers, makers, organisers and others vital to the success of the project. You can read more about our impact here.
We’re all over the place
Our community is reaching new places all the time; many of you will be involved in groups in London, across the UK or around the world. It’s incredibly inspiring to see Restart Parties happening from Hackney to Barcelona and Nottingham to Milan as well as groups recording data as far away as California.
As an ambitious bunch, our aim is to be everywhere. But while we celebrate being geographically dispersed, we’re held back by being digitally separated. Some of us keep in touch through Facebook or Google groups, others via Meetup.com and others still through our own site, mailing lists or various social media feeds.
This separation makes it hard for people to get involved and find out what’s happening in their area; we get a lot of messages at Restart HQ from people asking whether there’s anyone involved near them. It also means that groups can’t really talk to each other and learn what everyone else is up to – a missed opportunity we think.
What’s more, we’re not comfortable relying mainly on platforms provided by companies like Facebook and Google, particularly after recent revelations about Facebook’s data practices.
So, what can we do to address this?
A new space for the community
At Restart HQ, we see our role as supporting the rest of the community. While we do host our own events, our main aim is to help get local groups started and provide guidance and resources. Helping us all connect digitally seems to be an important way to do this.
With that in mind, we want to build a new, central space for the whole Restart community – a space to complement or even replace some of the many current channels.
We’re hoping that providing an online platform for all of us to talk, co-ordinate and support each other, we can together create a single point of contact for Restarters, hosts, other volunteers, staff, participants and the wider public to, organise, share learning, build relationships and spread the word.
Here are some of the core ideas we’d like to build into the new platform:
- Help finding people/groups in your region (e.g. when organising/attending events)
- Space for existing groups to coordinate & recruit
- Nurture a greater sense of cross-group community
- A chance to meet and talk to like-minded people
- Learn and get help from others involved with the Project
- Improve communication between Restart HQ and the wider community as well as within the community itself (including offering more opportunity for the community to influence our wider work, especially around lobbying manufacturers or political institutions)
- Provide a space for members communicating in other languages (Italian, Spanish, etc)
- Build a bank of FAQs that can help people get involved for the first time & store helpful resources (such as posters, information about repair tool kits, insurance etc.)
- Outreach to the wider public
What do you think?
This will be a platform for all of us in the Restart community, so to make sure it works well for everyone, we’re looking to involve as many people as we can in the early stages. If you’re as excited as we are by what we’re trying to create, we’d love your help to shape and test it before it goes public.
There are two ways to get involved at this stage. First, we have a quick survey at the bottom of this page about your current experience of The Restart Project and what you’d want from this new space. If you have a spare few minutes, we’d really value your input.
The survey also contains an opportunity to register your interest in joining our testing team; a group of community members who’ll be given early access to the new platform to help us get it ready before launch.
Watch this space for updates about this project, and in the meantime, we look forward to hearing what you think!
If this button doesn’t work, you can also take the survey here.