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Restart Podcast Ep. 78: Meet our new(ish) Co-Director, Fiona Dear

Fiona and the team at the Fixing Factory launch

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To wrap up our summer season, we’re giving listeners a proper introduction to Restart’s new(ish) Co-Director, Fiona Dear. You will have heard Fiona’s voice a couple times on Restart Radio in the last few months, and her fingerprints are all over the new projects that we’re working on. Dave spoke to Fiona when she had just joined Restart to have a conversation about how she became the perfect fit for her new role.

A journey through repair

Starting out as a student of repair, Fiona tells us about the differences between experiencing Restart Parties as an attendee versus organiser. Fiona’s repair background is mostly in the realm of mending and upcycling. She tells us about her rather swift introduction to electrical repair after having to repair her phone only weeks after joining Restart. It was a challenge but with the help of both our community and professional repairers, she managed to successfully save her device. She shares how this experience opened her eyes to the importance of in-person repairing and learning from one another.

Conservation at home and abroad

From Costa Rica to North London, Fiona has been making change. She shares her experience of studying conservation of Scarlet macaws in the rainforest and the winding path that led her to focus her masters dissertation on human behaviour.

In her own neighbourhood, Fiona has also been making change. She has campaigned for a low traffic zone, introduced regular Play Street sessions, and organised a waste reduction project. This work in her personal life only shows how massive her impact will be at Restart. Through this, in addition to intensive experience working for The Climate Coalition and on Great Big Green Week, she has built an in-depth understanding of how to engage and mobilise the public.

Shaping the future of Restart

Since she started at Restart, Fiona hit the ground running working on Fixing Factories. With one location already open in Brent and another coming to Camden in the fall, it’s an incredibly exciting project with some brilliant partners involved. The project allows us to push for digital inclusion while engaging further with the public – hopefully, inviting more people into the repair community. A perfect way to pursue Fiona’s goal of making repair mainstream.

“It’s still evolving…it’s all about extending the life of electronics. What’s coming to the fore now is reuse – laptop fixing and redistribution during the pandemic. You’ve got a lot more companies selling refurbished tech now.”

We also discuss the new directions that Restart’s work is moving in. Much of our current work like repair events, the repair directory, data work, are of course, focused on repair. Now though, we are making renewed efforts to support reuse. Fiona explains how this will come to fruition in new projects with palpable excitement.

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[Feature image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 2.0.]

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