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Founders of the Restart Project, Janet and Ugo, met at the London ICT4D Meetup, an informal networking opportunity for people with an interest in the use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). They had worked for 15 years between them in developing countries where people have a greater sense of control and ownership over technology and resilience in the face of problems than they seem to have in the majority of the western world. The attitude was ‘everything is hackable and fixable’.
In London they watched people discard devices because they ran “slow” and upgrade by simply buying a new phone every nine months and throwing the other one away. They asked themselves: have we become passive, flabby consumers of technology? Have we lost our “repair muscle mass”?
So, with no funding they began throwing “Restart Parties”, free community events that empower participants to extend the lifespan of the electronics they own, actively reducing e-waste. They realized that the only way to change things was simply to roll up their sleeves and get started, and to learn, evolve and grow alongside people who like what they do like the Transition Towns and Freecycle movements.
Since then, the group has sponsored 27 of these free community events, popping up in libraries, community centres, markets, galleries and pubs in its focus areas of Brixton and greater Camden. Among the most common fixes have been laptops, printers, lamps and other small household electricals.
More than 500 people have brought broken items and learned from personalised repair advice, and approximately 393 kilograms of electronic waste have been prevented.
The Project has had requests from individuals and groups in 23 cities in the UK to replicate the “Restart Party” model, and from 11 countries around the world.