Tomorrow from 3 to 6 p.m., the Sparks Library is hosting a free Spring Fixit Clinic, where anyone can bring in their broken bicycles, jewelry, electronics or equipment to get fixed. In a partnership with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and local volunteers, this event is designed to help people learn how to troubleshoot and mend their favorite items so that they don’t end up in a landfill.
This Monday, the Spring Fixit Clinic went to the Incline Village Library. An hour into the event, local experts repaired a bike seat, a shin guard, hemmed two pairs of pants, fixed a backpack, and de-pilled a sweater.
“Two years ago I went to the California Resource Recovery Association where I learned about fixit clinics,” says NDEP Waste Management Recycling Coordinator Patty Moen. “Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get one in Nevada. We did a tour of the Truckee Roundhouse (a maker space close to the Truckee Tahoe Airport) and then talked with the library about how to make it happen. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to recruit coaches to help other people learn how to troubleshoot and fix their own items,” she adds.
“Peter Mui, a Stanford graduate, started fixit clinics in California and Patagonia was one of their partners. When a piece of clothing breaks, it gets sent to their outlet in Reno,” Moen says. Therefore, Patagonia is a natural choice to have their sewing experts repair ski pants, backpacks, jackets, and more at the Incline Village and Sparks fixit clinic events.
The local experts/coaches share their knowledge and help repair, disassemble and assess broken items. While everything may not necessarily be able to be fixed, the experts can help you troubleshoot the problem and give you the tools you need to fix whatever needs to be repaired. For instance, one bicycle tube had a hole in it that couldn’t be found, so the only thing to do was to replace it.
I personally brought a printer in that wasn’t printing black ink and while we didn’t have the tools we needed to take it apart or clean it, fortunately Washoe County Library Department Systems Specialist Shawn Polka helped me diagnose the problem.
A Sparks local, Polka is fast, efficient, and competent in this area of expertise. “I started fixing computers when I was 12 or 13 years old. My mom had an old Pentium II and I started playing around with it- you gotta break it to learn how to fix it,” he says. When he got older, Polka served an internship at University of Nevada, Reno before getting a degree in Computer Science. Now he helps keep the computer systems up and running at all 12 Washoe County Library locations.
Along with this Thursday’s Fixit Clinic in Sparks, NDEP and other local environmental groups will be at the May 15 Reno Aces game for Aces Education Day. “Kids from different schools come and learn about recycling and the environment before the game. We’ll be there teaching kids how to fix things instead of throwing them out,” says Moen.
A few of the partners who will be at the Sparks Library on May 10 include Patagonia, the Kiwanis Bike Program, The Generator, New2U Computers, and a Washoe County Library Systems computer specialist.
“The idea is to help people not be afraid to try and if you don’t succeed, then you haven’t really lost anything, right?” asks Moen. “Especially in electronics, they’re made with hazardous metals that we want to keep out of the landfill.”