Oct 06 2021

Building Repair-Centred Neighbourhoods, INSPIRE Talk, Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol

12:30 (UK) 08:30 (BR) 17:00 (IN)

What does it mean to create land build repair-centred neighbourhoods? Does it mean accessibility to trusted repair professionals? Or easy access to spare parts or community fabrication labs, where you can make the bits and bobs that you need? Does it mean knowing what to do or getting advise on how to keep and maintain much loved goods and objects?

Ahead of our workshop with our community partners at Knowle West Media Centre on the 15th Oct, we’ll be live streaming an INSPIRE talk with Teresa Dillon, programme led on TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR and Repair Acts at the University of the West of England.

INSPIRE Talks invite people into the world of inspirational makers to find out more about their journeys, motivations and processes.


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Conversation with Fiona Dowling and Teresa Dillon

Fiona Dowling leads on the Factory’s training and skills programme, designing and delivering a range of opportunities for skills development, volunteering and co-design. Fiona is passionate about creating a welcoming, inclusive and people-focused environment for learning, making and experimenting, and champions the exploration and adoption of more sustainable and regenerative practices, materials and ways of thinking across the Factory and wider KWMC programmes.

Teresa Dillon is an artist and researcher and the project lead for TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR. In 2018 she co-founded Repair Acts – a practice-based research programme that explores repair cultures and practices in a pluralistic and collective manner. Since 2013 she also directs Urban Hosts – a programme the explores alternative urban futures and is a member of the spatial collective Soft Agency. Her work has been published in various contexts and she has participated in numerous exhibitions, art residencies, conferences and seminar programmes. A Humboldt Fellow, Teresa currently holds the post of Professor of City Futures at the School of Art and Design, UWE Bristol.

INSPIRE is technically support and co-ordinated by Charlie Trusler, KWMC: The Factory.

What happened?

Our audience tuned into the monthly INSPIRE talks that are hosted KWMC, The Factory. Opening with the manitory technical glitches, Fiona Dowly introduced Fiona Dowling, introduced Teresa and the TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR project. Teresa outlined the goals of the project, to gather a global picture of the repair of everyday goods and provided an overview of the projects history and birth through Repair Acts. Looking to the future of repair-centred cities and neighbourhoods, the question around repair and why it is often neglected in our design thinking was discussed. Repair and our reliance on infrastructure and how we organises our lives only raises it’s head when it’s broken, yet our cities vitally depend on smooth systems in order to run.

Contextualising the work more broadly in relation to COP26, repair legislation in the EU, US and UK and the Right to Repair movement and iFixIt’s Repair Manifesto and the community repair movement, including the work of lobbyists like Restart and Repair cafes. Teresa asked: What would a vibrant repair neighbourhood look like where you live? What would we need? What would it mean in terms of building small local economies? Focusing specifically on Bristol, Teresa shared research she had carried out on the histories of formally registered repair economies in the neighbourhood of Bedminister, Bristol from 1938-2018. Looking at how we could stimulate a conversation about the value of keeping these repair economies in your neighbourhood, the project looked to how we could celebrate our past histories, as well as look to future directions and the role that accessibility and visibility of repair business plays. Fiona connected this work to the Factory’s circular approach, encouraging people to attend the workshop on the 15th, she also considered how we perhaps need to learn more about how things are made in the first place, so as to appreciate how they can also be repaired. This connected to how Teresa described repair is a powerful narrative in that if you take time to repair it can be the gateway to wider systems change – personal, social and political.

Questions raised from the audience focused on:

What are the barriers to becoming more of a repair-centred community in Knowle West and in wider Bristol?

What will it take for Bristol to become a repair centred neighbourhood? How can we provide more skills and tools?

What financial incentives could help grow a UK repair economy and whether the U.K is included within the EU legislation?

As the U.K has left the EU, the EU legislation passed earlier this year does not cover the U.K. However since July 2021, the U.K has passed ‘Repair the Repair’ laws, which are similar to the EU’s and include for example access to spare parts for 10yrs. However although this is a step in the right direction much more is required and some of the laws passed only apply to professional repairs and limited set of goods – for example smart phones and laptops are not included. Sweden’s approach to reduce VAT on repairs is also not available in the U.K., nor is France’s repairability index, which is a bit like food labelling but for how much you can repair something. The idea of being able to forage for spare parts and collect spare parts or have a warehouse that trades in spare parts, links also to Share Bristol – A Library of Things which looks to how we can borrow rather than always buy things we need. The session closed with looking to how we can collectively work towards creating a culture where we care to repair. Bristol is in a strong position, as a Green City with a long history in innovative practices that we could look to how we can support people to make a living through repair and that as consumers we need to demand quality and the ability to repair.