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Project 136

Challenge Question

How might Toronto communities, especially youth and marginalized populations, be sustainably engaged in embracing the circular economy?

Partner: Repair Cafe

Project Summary

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Repair Cafe Toronto eventually broadened its mandate in order to create a culture in Toronto where repairing rather than tossing away was the norm and organized gatherings in a variety of locations (e.g. libraries, community centres/hubs). A typical day-long event would garner hundreds of volunteer hours and result in over a hundred items being fixed or assessed by volunteer specialists. However, due to COVID-19 and its restrictions, in-person repair events came to an abrupt halt. During this time, due to identified needs in marginalized communities negatively impacted by COVID, volunteer fixers pivoted and did online workshops and curbside pick-up and drop-off repair of necessary items like toaster ovens, sewing machines, fans, vacuums, and bicycles.

In the post-Covid climate, where large one-day fix-it events may be a thing of the past and another Fall/Winter lockdown may be imminent, Repair Cafe Toronto is looking to pivot once again in order to find ways to harness its pandemic experiences and create sustainable models of repair and skill building that will specifically target youth and marginalized communities.

The research team for this project will work together to develop practices and platforms that connect people and share knowledge, skills, and resources related to sustainability and equity in Canadian communities. The research team may be composed of individuals with interests or specializations in urban studies, environmental studies, social work, digital media and design, sustainability, education, communication & media studies, information technology, and marketing.

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Sustainable Development Goals

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Organizational Profile

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Repair Cafe Toronto is a grassroots, volunteer group founded for the purpose of building the capacity of Toronto residents, especially youth and newcomers, to learn repair related skills and perhaps enter the skilled trades. Repair Café Toronto organizes monthly gatherings in which volunteer “fixers” help visitors learn how to repair for free. Repair Café Toronto aims to build a more sustainable society and counter the throwaway mindset. Repair Café Toronto supports the model of the sharing economy through building a community where people with repair skills are valued and organizations collaborate and innovate for the common good. Repair Café Toronto launched the first repair café in May 2013.

Partner Website

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Learn more about the kind of work the project partner does by browsing their website.

Visit partner website

Key Words

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  • Sustainability
  • Urban Studies
  • Environmental Studies
  • Communication