Taking Oregon’s Repair Movement to the Next Level
Communities around the Portland region are organizing Repair Fairs and highlighting local repair services. Free Geek is leading a new effort to pass legislation to secure better rights to repair -and they invite you to join in.
Our region has embraced the repair movement. There are signs of it everywhere.
Last week, a person was sighted going into the Sherwood Library with a fried-out iron and walking out with a smile. On the same day another person was headed into the Gresham ReStore with a skirt and walking out with its zipper replaced. In fact, people in Sandy, Milwaukie, Estacada, Forest Grove, Portland, Tigard, Canby, Oregon City are all gathering up their broken bicycles, lava lamps and blenders. These folks are not planning on dumping them, but rather they are preparing for upcoming Repair Fairs in their communities to see if they can revive their stuff to working order.
Certainly, repairing can be seen in the long-standing cottage industry. Cobblers, tailors, mechanics, and computer repair shops are all part of a thriving local economy. Organizations like Free Geek has been refurbishing old computers for nearly 20 years.
Oregon House Bill 2688 (The Right to Repair) is a sign that the repair movement is getting serious.
“We’re trying to get legislation passed across the country, adopted state-by-state,” says Dan Bartholomew, CEO of Free Geek, who is leading up the effort to get such legislation passed in Oregon.
Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit.org and the author of the Repair Manifesto, feels that the right to repair is under assault. He points out that manufacturers are shifting their practices in a way that takes repair out of the equation. They increasingly stopped making replacement parts, they frequently design products that break if you try to open them, and they often make specialized parts that cannot be replaced with universal ones. Wiens also points out that manufacturers have begun to claim proprietary rights to manuals and electronic chips that make these products run.
The Right to Repair movement now has nearly two dozen states in the process of introducing or considering Right to Repair legislation that says, basically, “if a manufacturer sells in a state, they need to sell parts at a reasonable price, and provide diagnostics and schematics for repair,” says Wiens.
The Right to Repair is about restoring the power to repair products, via legislation — because the manufacturers aren’t going to permit it on their own.
Five ways you can support Oregon legislation (and YES it counts as Master Recycler hours!):
Tell your story of how the right to repair would change your life. Hilary Shohoney is meeting with folks to gather stories to send to key legislators.
Stay tuned to Free Geek Facebook for upcoming events and ways to get involved.
Ask to get on the list to stay informed and spread the word on social media, letters to the editors and to people you know.