Rutherford's First Repair Cafe
By Jennifer Ersalesi
The Rutherford Green Team is a community group in town committed to spreading environmental awareness. Volunteers on the Green Team meet to determine sustainable activities that will benefit the community. The Rutherford Green Team meets the second Wednesday of every month on the second floor of Borough Hall at 7 pm. This year Brian Hanson-Harding and the Rutherford Green Team will be hosting a Repair Cafe on October 5th, from noon until 4 pm at the Rutherford Congregational Church on 251 Union Ave.
TIR: How long have you been part of the Rutherford Green Team?
Brian Hanson-Harding: About 5-6 years.
TIR: Why did you decide to become a part of the Green Team?
BHH: I’ve always been very active regarding environmental issues. While I was a high school English teacher at Northern Valley Regional High School (retired in 2015), I was also an advisor of the school’s environmental club, SOPE (Save Our Planet Earth), where I initiated a recycling program, a composting program, and an organic garden, and ran programs that encouraged use of reusable bottles and bicycling instead of driving to school.
TIR: What are the goals of the Green Team?
BHH: To advise the borough council about environmental issues and to promote environmentalism and green actions in the borough.
TIR: Where did the idea for a Repair Cafe come from? Why does Rutherford seem like a good town to hold such an event?
BHH: Repair Cafes were initiated in Holland 10 years ago and have spread all over the world. A few have sprung up in North Jersey in recent years. The only other Repair Cafes in Bergen County are in Ramapo and Ridgewood. Rutherford would be the first Repair Café in southern Bergen County.
TIR: What can people expect to find at the Repair Cafe?
BHH: There will be volunteer experts in the following categories: bicycles, computers, small electronics, lamps, jewelry, clothing, and furniture. Volunteer experts will have tools and may have some standard parts available for a nominal fee, although people who come with items to be repaired are encouraged to order and purchase parts in advance and bring them to the repair cafe. For example, someone who has a bike with a flat tire is encouraged to bring the necessary tube to the Repair Cafe.
There will be coffee, tea, and homemade baked goods available for free. There will be a crafts table where adults and children will be able to create art out of discarded objects. Everything is free, but participants are encouraged to make donations.
TIR: Who will be volunteering their time to help fix broken items?
BHH: As of today, we have six confirmed volunteer experts and we may confirm more over the next week. Most are Rutherford residents, but in addition, employees of Paramus REI will come to hold a bicycle maintenance and repair clinic from noon until 1 pm. They will also handle minor bike repairs at that time as well. For more significant repairs, they will be handing out generous coupons that can be used at their Paramus store. There will also be other volunteers who will help set up and run the Repair Cafe.
Those that are interested in volunteering can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIR: What are your hopes for the Repair Cafe?
BHH: We hope that people from town will come with their non-functioning items and learn how to fix them from our volunteer experts, thereby develop the thinking that it’s better to repair than to throw out and buy something new. We are doing this to try to teach people ways to reduce waste. We also want this to be a chance for borough residents to connect with each other in an informal, warm setting. We would also hope this would be successful enough to repeat on a semi-annual or annual basis.
TIR: What else would you like to tell readers about the Repair Cafe?
BHH: Everyone is welcome to come, whether they have an item to be repaired or not. We want this to be a community event that brings people together, not only to get something fixed, but to connect with others and to have fun. We are hoping that it will attract residents from the youngest to the oldest. We hope that this event will give attendees a sense of the potential and possibilities that exist among the citizens of Rutherford.