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Oregon Family Magazine

Rural County Communities Welcome Fix-It Fairs

04/05/2023 ● By Daniel Hiestand
Fix-it fairs are free public events promoting reuse and repair by offering participants the chance to have household items repaired by volunteer fixers. Participants can watch and learn repair skills, discover local repair resources, and extend the life of household items—keeping more stuff out of the landfill while saving money.

Since 2019, Bauman has helped organize six in-person fairs and three virtual fairs with ToolBox Project and the city of Eugene.

“Fix-It Fairs are a great way to build confidence around simple repairs,” Bauman said. “Learning from the fixers shows how simple most repairs are, which can be an empowering experience.”

Fixer volunteers may possess amateur or professional skills and fix everything from power tools to stuffed animals. Bauman said repairs take an average of 30 minutes, and attendees can only bring items that can be “reasonably” carried in.

But perhaps just as much as the fairs’ financial, educational, and environmental benefits, she loves the communal feel of the events, which bring connection and joy to participants.

“We see attendees from all age groups and all backgrounds,” Bauman said. “One of my favorite aspects of these events is how they encourage connection across social barriers over the shared goal of repair. In our increasingly isolated society, we don't always have the chance to spend time with people of different ages, abilities, socioeconomic statuses, and cultural backgrounds in a natural, authentic way.”

This year, Lane County is funding and supporting Bauman and Toolbox Project to introduce the fairs to three cities outside of Eugene: Springfield, Cottage Grove, and Florence. Lane County Waste Reduction Program Supervisor Angie Marzano said this new outreach was by desig

“Willa and Toolbox Project have a proven track record producing high-quality events, and we are thrilled to partner with them,” Marzano said. “Bringing repair opportunities to rural communities is critical to the county’s sustainability and waste prevention goals to reach underrepresented communities.”

Bauman agrees.

“I live rurally, so I've seen how rural communities often don't have the same resources for building community and growing the conversation around sustainability and ethical consumption. We're hoping that increasing events outside of Eugene will highlight existing repair businesses that already serve these communities while creating one more opportunity for neighbors to meet each other.”

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Fix-it Fairs Across the County

Springfield Fix-it Fair*

Friday, May 12 | 5-7:30 p.m.

Academy of Arts and Academics (615 Main St.)

* This fair will primarily focus on fabrics, clothing, and bike repairs

Cottage Grove Fix-it Fair

Saturday, July 22 | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

South Valley Farmers Market (7th & Main)

Florence Fix-it Fair

Saturday, September 23 | TBD

Florence Habitat for Humanity (2004 Hwy. 101)

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