Two big storms—first snow, then ice—hit Seattle in two days last month. 200,000 people lost power. Several major roads were cut off. A man riding an ATV was killed by a falling tree.
The next morning, branches and leaves littered Greg Kono’s yard. Armed with only a pair of pruning shears, he braved the cold to tackle the mess. But before he could cut the tree limbs into a more manageable size, his shears broke: a little plastic piece that sat between the blades and the handle to prevent the shears from over-closing snapped off.
The following Thursday, he brought the broken shears with him to a three-story brick building not far from his house. The building, which was the Cooper Elementary School for most of the last century, bears traces of its scholastic history. Tall sash windows divide the brick facade into neat, even rectangles, and inspire visions of uniformed hordes of children playing hopscotch on the sidewalk outside. Today, the bricks house an artists’ colony, a nature conservation organization, and a performing arts non-profit, all part of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Greg and his shears arrived at the Center that evening in search of a slightly more practical (though no less creative) offering—the West Seattle Fixers Collective, where he joined five other repair-minded people in a room full of tools, talking shop and fixing stuff. Read the rest of this article »
We talk a lot about products designed to break. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge companies that are doing it right—so today, kudos to Nokia’s candybar phones. They’re modular, nigh indestructible, and when they do break, they can be fixed.
Photo via kraven420 on Reddit.
Last Friday, the UN Basel Convention’s E-waste Africa Program reported their findings from studies in five West African countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria) over the past three years. The report highlights the fact that poor African countries are not just helpless, unwitting victims of wealthier countries’ electronic trash. Africa, just like the rest of the world, has been catapulted into the information age—compared to ten years ago, ten times as many Africans have personal computers, and a hundred times as many have mobile phones. Read the rest of this article »
On a Delhi street, a group of men load a pile of power supply units (PSUs) and optical drives into a truck to take them for extraction of copper.
We took this photo in Seelampur, on the same trip during which we visited a garment factory and met the man who fixes their sewing machines. The largest electronics scrap market in India is in Seelampur. 80,000 people in India work in the informal e-waste recycling sector. At what point does the value of a computer drop to that of its constituent metals? Read the rest of this article »
On Monday, January 16th, Nikon Inc. sent a letter to independent camera repair technicians in the US to say that “it will no longer make repair parts available for purchase by repair facilities that have not been authorized by Nikon Inc. to perform camera repairs.” So after July 13, 2012, all Nikon repairs will be pushed through Nikon’s own repair service or one of 22 “Nikon authorized repair stations.” Local, independent camera repair shops will no longer be able to repair Nikon cameras with manufacturer-approved parts.
This is unnerving news.