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Project of the Day: the Restart Project

photo of hartsellml

hartsellml
14th September 2013


The Restart Project

Michelle Bastian: [*also see Michelle's comments at the very bottom on the Temporal Aspects of the Restart Project]

“Restart was started by Janet Gunter and Ugo Vallauri in 2012. Their mission is to help grow a more widespread culture of repair. They organise Restart Parties in London twice a month, where people can bring along their broken gadgets and work with the Restart repairers (or Restarters) to try and find a fix. These events encourage more people to think about repair as a possible option for their gadgets, to become better skilled and to also save repairable items from ended up as landfill.

They are starting small, but Janet and Ugo have big ambitions for their project. The are creating a world map of similar projects and are hoping to scale up their approach to support a global network of Restarters. They also clearly see themselves as contributing to a different kind of economy – laying the groundwork for the future, which they believe will be much more geared towards maintenance and repair than about continuing to buy more new stuff.” (www.sustainingtime.org/1/post/2013/06/building-economies-of-repair-circular-or-linear.html)
For More Information

“The Restart Project promotes positive behaviour change by encouraging and empowering people to use their electronics longer.

The time has come to move beyond the culture of incessant electronics upgrades and defeatism in the face of technical problems. We are facing slow-burn ecological and financial crises, and more immediately, we are witnessing the decline of our high streets.

We are preparing the ground for a future economy of maintenance and repair by reskilling, supporting repair entrepreneurs, and helping people of all walks of life to be more resilient. While recycling is important, we prefer intervening before disposal – encouraging consumers to buy for longevity and diverting electronics from “end of life.

Our vision is one based on collaboration and creativity – combining online sharing with fun activities in real life, like community repair events, training and public speaking.” (therestartproject.org/about/)
2.

“People no longer know how and where to repair what breaks in their lives – particularly electrical and electronics. They also don’t know what shops or individuals might be able to give them maintenance advice. We are told it’s cheaper to move on, upgrade, recycle the old and buy a new one. Even councils promote recycling, without doing much to promote repair and reuse. This results in a lot of waste, and high costs of environmentally sound disposal.

This becomes even harder at a time when recession is pushing further repair shops out of business. As a result, our communities are becoming less and less resilient, skills are not taken advantage of, and local business opportunities are wasted as well. This is evident in London: no matter how many skilled repairers the city has, most people are disconnected from them and accumulate broken things before throwing them away, instead than fixing and reusing.
What are we building?

JustRepair, a crowd-sourced map and directory of local repair options and support for those who need a quick, reliable and affordable fix. This platform will also motivate people to learn repair skills and to share their repair experiences, as a part of The Restart Project’s greater mission to help people take back control of what they own.
Participants in the platform will:

1. profile repair businesses and individual repairers, sharing their experiences with them, listing the equipment & faults they can repair, rating their services;

2. list themselves as repair volunteers, freelancers and trainers, testing new repair models leading to waste reduction and reuse

3. build a profile of themselves based on their reviews and including their own repair activities, i.e. sharing the repairs they do themselves or have done by others

4. share and/or find out about a number of other opportunities

- self-repair events/groups/ spaces, such as Repair Cafés, Restart Parties & Hackspaces;

- providers of second hand equipment and spare parts;

- reuse/upcycling opportunities, such as Freecycle events, Give & Take sheds at Recycle centres

- repair skill

- sharing and training opportunities;
The vision is creating a “ Trip Advisor” for repair which prevents waste, creates local business opportunities and supports skill-sharing and community resilience.

The platform starts with a focus on electronics and electricals in London, with the goal of scaling globally to incorporate all kinds of repairers in all sorts of urban communities.
What skills do we need?

We need coders with experience with crowdsourcing platforms, gamification, mapping integration, social connections, mobile app development, as well as UX people.” (restartproject.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/restart-urbanprototyping3.pdf)

 

The Temporal Aspects of the Restart Project

Michelle Bastian:

” when I asked Janet and Ugo about whether they saw themselves and moving towards a more circular or cyclical sense of time in relation to gadgets and repair, they expressed strong reservations. The danger of thinking in terms of the cycle, seems to be that this encourages people to think first about recycling, rather than about the ways their gadgets could continue to be useful now and into the future. Part of the reason they chose Restart for their name, rather than something with recycle in the name for instance, was to pick up on the way that for many electronic items the first solution to a problem is to simply to turn it off and then on again. That is, as Ugo said you “restart it and give it a second life, which didn’t necessarily mean that it had to be taken apart”. For the Restart project, recycling should be an absolute last resort and instead the emphasis is on prolonging your relationship to the gadgets you own.

Their critical intervention into the short disposable time of current consumerism is thus not to champion a seemingly more ‘natural’ circularity. At least not a small circle that would move straight from use to recycle. Rather a more sustainable time for electronics comes from expanding the length of time we use our gadgets and prolonging our relationships with them. Recognising the way we have come to perceive something as old or obsolete every couple of years, they challenge the temporal boundaries that constrict ‘usefulness’ to such a short period. For example when people ask them what smartphone they should buy, their answer is “The one you already have. Keep it”. For Ugo and Janet, their ethic of time relates well with the New Materialism proposed by Andrew Simms and Ruth Potts. The second statement in their manifesto, for example, is “Wherever practical and possible develop lasting relationships with things by having and making nothing that is designed to last less than 10 years” (2012, 27 [PDF]). What is really interesting about this is that Restart seem to be suggesting that a particular kind of linear time, which is often thought to be the bane of sustainability, might actually be more suitable than a straightforward shift to a cyclical framework.” (www.sustainingtime.org/1/post/2013/06/building-economies-of-repair-circular-or-linear.html)

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