A journalist asked us the other day what our “best repairs” have been, and what makes us proudest about The Restart Project. Perhaps she expected us to tell her a story about intricate, complicated technical repairs that our volunteers managed to pull off. But this is not the case at all!
The best repairs help participants lose their fear, or help volunteers realise how to help others.
Here’s just one example. K seemed like a very calm person. She came this month to a Restart Party with a fan running very loud on her laptop, which was worrying her. We handed her a screwdriver and guided her through a disassembly and deep clean of her laptop. She became visibly nervous. We tried not to rush her and we supported her the best we could. She did most of the work herself, and reassembled the machine. She told us that this was the “most stressed” she had been in ages. Days after, she wrote back to us
I’m the worried looking one. Good news, now I’m relieved as fan seems to work fine after an initial rumble & also lost fear of mysterious technology! In all aspects, we the people can work on improving our world. It is now slowly sinking in and I hope starting a snowball effect!
Our project, at the end of the day, is more about people than gadgets.
Brazilian educator Paulo Freire believed in the possibilities of adult education where learners “come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in the process of transformation”. When we open a gadget, we gain a critical view into something we took for granted. It feels like the lifting of mystery, the loss of fear. But it goes deeper. By disassembling and repairing together, we transform our reality.
Another thing Freire stressed was the connection between learning and teaching – and we can see that our Restarters learn by working with people. Our favourite repairs are when a participant is guided and coached by Restarter volunteer, where both are equally engaged and learning from the other. Those with technical skills are teaching but they are also learning – this is another important element of this “transforming”.
A sense of ad-hoc community runs through our events, and we can feel it among our Restarters, who have gotten to know each other and have learned from each other. This is what makes us feel everything is worthwhile.
Post-script: yesterday after drafting this, we chatted to Peter Mui, founder of Fixit Clinic, in the US and we were genuinely moved to hear that his approach is very similar, as were his motivations and experiences working in communities.