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Do It


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  • annehochberg

    I've been a fixer for as long as I can remember, partly because I like knowing how things work. (I do recall taking a clock apart as a teen and not being able to figure out how to put it back together, though!) My journey has been more of learning that I don't have to do it all myself, or that there are limits to how much I really want to fix things.

    For instance, I could troubleshoot early Mac problems. As the systems became more complicated, I reached the point where figuring out what had to be done just wasn't fun any more and I was happy to have someone else deal with it.

    In my late 20s my husband and I had a VW bus. I was the handier of the two of us, and happily did tuneups and such. I felt I could tackle anything. But after the alternator died and I managed to wrestle it out so I could bring it to a repair shop (and the guy was duly impressed), I lost the drive for doing everything myself... maybe I just wanted to prove I could do mechanics as well as any guy. I did - and then I was happy for someone else with better tools and more knowhow to do the work. (Having the right tools goes a long way.)

    Now I'm 65 and living in an apartment. I'll fix some things, but there's plenty I'm happy to call in to get fixed - for free! Confidence is no longer an issue - it's more a matter of balancing interest and time.

  • Patrick Farrell

    The art of fixing isn't dead! Thank goodness. We've had the 'fix-it-ourself' ethos for as long as I can recall. I just thought it was normal. Then our church began helping college students with housing and I realized that there's an entire generation of young adults that didn't know you could fix something.

    There's great joy in breathing life into that which was deemed useless. The problem? It just takes time - a precious commodity in today's world.

    • Hillary Newman

      Hey Patrick, thanks for the comment. How do you think we engage and teach young people to learn how to fix things?

      • Patrick Farrell

        Not fixing things is a symptom, not the problem. The problem is time and relationship. In our case, our church doesn't segregate into age brackets. The young and old mix which is a catalyst for the passing on of knowledge that's being lost. This concept that old and young don't have common ground is true, but only because we let it be true.

        Engaging young people takes old people like me (45) taking risks and talking to someone who may not dress like me, talk like me or live like me. Likewise, there's a bit of a response necessary from the 'youngsters' of today. Really it's about finding common ground, however limited, and then building on that.

        Once that's established there's safety on the part of a younger person to say things like, 'Actually, I've never driven a stick-shift car and I'm terrified of it', or 'Actually, no, I didn't know you could replace the element in the dryer'.

        Us oldies have to quit rolling our eyes at 'kids today' and start seeing them as the valid assets of our future.

        I'll tuck my soap box back under my desk now...

        • Hillary Newman

          I like your perspective on the issue. Thanks for responding!

  • Graham

    Definitely a positive thing to do. I will contribute if I can.

  • Lori Cuene

    Wonderful! I am finding "fixit collaboratives"/ communities all over! People are redefining their relationship with "stuff". We can longer, as a planet, just keep throwing things away ' cause it's cheaper to buy new... Love to see folks working together in the goal of sharing fixit skils and ideas. Thanks much for sharing!

    • peter jursik

      I volunteer at the Hennepin County (Minneapolis) Fixit Clinics where we repair most anything that people can carry in. I wish there were more people who wanted to LEARN how to fix their things (and we're working on that) but for now it's primarily a "We'll fix your stuff for you" operation. I'd welcome any ideas you may have for attracting/engaging/finding people who want to learn the basics of fixing.

    • Hillary Newman

      Hey Lori - I completely agree. One of the biggest challenges I encountered when I started living on my own was repairing broken 'stuff' on my own. Learning how to fix my door handle and the fan in my bedroom has been really empowering!