‘Stop before you throw’: Fixers lend a hand in Colrain to keep broken items out of landfills

  • Timber framer Scott Barrows builds a toolbox to be auctioned off at the fourth annual Colrain Fix-It Day at Griswold Memorial Library on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Sandy Peck and her mother, Joanne Rideout, mend clothes using sewing machines at the fourth annual Colrain Fix-It Day at Griswold Memorial Library on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Kathryn Swanson of Swanson’s Fabrics teaches people how to use old bedsheets to make braid-in rugs at the fourth annual Colrain Fix-It Day at Griswold Memorial Library on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2023 1:09:47 PM

COLRAIN — Residents’ broken objects saw new life on Saturday as part of the fourth annual Colrain Fix-It Day at Griswold Memorial Library.

Working under tents on the library lawn, volunteers specializing in a variety of repair methods fixed any object brought in by attendees.

“The power is people and fixers uniting and bringing back the lost art of fixing,” said Griswold Memorial Library board of trustees Chair Nancy Rich Turkle.

In one corner of the lawn was Sandy Peck and her mother, Joanne Rideout, who mended clothes with their sewing machines. They also told attendees about upcycling, the act of taking old clothes and making them into something new.

“Sometimes it becomes something new,” Peck said. “I am taking a dress, adding a new collar and patching until it becomes something new, beautiful and unique.”

Peck explained she was inspired to try upcycling when her son died. She took his old clothes and added them to her own wardrobe to keep him in her memory while adding a personal flair.

“Stop before you throw,” she advised. “Look at it from a new perspective. Ask, ‘Can I make this into something unique that reflects my personality?’”

On the other side of the lawn was Jonathan Woolley, who was repairing bicycles. He explained he used to own a community bike shop with his wife, and they taught themselves through videos how to do the work. He volunteered on Saturday to help people with their own bikes.

“Like everything in life, bikes require attention and maintenance,” Woolley said. “We need to give love and attention to keep it going.”

He helped fix tires, brakes, chains and more.

“Every time I fix a bicycle it is a different problem,” Woolley said.

Ben Eastman, Selectboard chair and owner of the Ben’s Repair automotive repair shop, was also at Colrain Fix-It Day helping people with their small motors and restringing weed wackers.

“I’m here to just have less stuff in the landfill and keep things going,” he said.

Jade Mortimer of Heartwood Window Restoration was also on the lawn, showing people how to cut glass and how to winterize old windows by installing weatherstripping.

She said the main complaint about old windows is that they’re drafty. People often replace their windows for this reason, but Mortimer has made a career out of fixing these windows by adding weatherstripping. She has done work in municipal buildings, churches and private residences. She invites residents to come to her shop in Charlemont to learn about window restoration and how they can do it themselves.

Manufactured objects were not the only things being fixed on Saturday. Chris LaRoche of Checkerspot Farm, a native plant nursery, was giving away pollinator plants for people to plant in their yards. He hopes this effort will increase biodiversity in Colrain by attracting more pollinators and insects.

“Fix-It Day means trying to do what we can to fix the planet,” LaRoche said.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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