Kurt Prassé loves to fix things. He also hates the idea that lots of eminently fixable items are sent to landfills.
So when he learned about repair cafés in some American and European cities, he knew it would be a great fit for Bellingham.
Prassé is the innovator behind The Bellingham Repair Café, which opened Sept. 6, 2015, at The Foundry, 1515 N. Forest St.
“Over 50 percent of consumer items can be repaired with relatively little effort, reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions and preserving resources,” he says.
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The café will be open twice a month, from 3 to 6 p.m. the first Sunday of each month and 6 to 9 p.m. the first Wednesday. Volunteers will try to fix broken items brought in during those hours. The work is free, but there’s no guarantee items can be repaired.
The Foundry and its volunteers have various tools; a soldering station, sewing machines, and a woodworking workshop.
The café has a few other basic rules:
▪ If a broken item needs a part replaced, the owner must buy the part and return the next session.
▪ You must be present while your item is being repaired.
▪ Items accepted include bicycles, toys, garden machines, small furniture, electronics, appliances small enough to be carried, clothes, jewelry, and knives that need sharpening.
▪ Items not accepted include anything that contains gasoline, leaks, smells bad, or is too big for one person to comfortably carry.
The café is staffed by volunteers, many of them technically skilled people like Prassé, who has been taking things apart and repairing them ever since he was a child. Prassé is looking for volunteers to helps; technical skill is not a prerequisite.
The Foundry and its volunteers have a variety of tools, including a soldering station, sewing machines, and a woodworking workshop.
Prassé hopes companies will donate to the café so he can pay rent to The Foundry and compensate volunteers.
He wants the café to be a warm, friendly place for people while they wait for their repairs. Tea, coffee and pastries will be served, and child care will be available.
Prassé was born in Austria 53 years ago and has lived on four continents. After years searching for the perfect place to live, he says he found it when he came to Bellingham a year ago.
“There are many people here concerned about the environment, aware of the importance of conserving resources rather than wasting,” he says.