The rise of the repairers!


RUDE Boy Danny fixed Trevor's lamp at Castlemaine Repair Cafe

RUDE Boy, Danny fixed Trevor’s vintage lamp at Castlemaine Repair Cafe

We RUDE Guys have been unwell with the dreaded lurgy and had been sitting in the medical clinic for 2 hours waiting to see a GP, a few nights ago, when this article came through on our phone via The Fifth Estate. And here it is again posted by Castlemaine Repair Cafe.  A timely reminder to blog to Rude Record.

It cheered us up no end to find out that Mend It, Australia had been given a mention at the end of the article, and to read about the repair and reuse of items at a time when we are being bombarded with the recycling crisis by the mainstream media. Recycling is no longer enough if we are to move to a circular economy.

And it takes subversive acts like community repair to raise awareness that the current linear economy has its flaws when it comes to ordinary people’s health and well being, their hip pockets and the planet.

It’s important to note that there are other community repair initiatives out there besides repair cafes. And that many of these will troubleshoot and try to fix small electrical household appliances. The repairing of potential e-waste is happening nearly every weekend of the year, and is achievable by competent repairers.

Rise up and repair your stuff.  When it comes to your fundamental right to repair you will need to be subversive to Beat The Man!

Castlemaine Repair Café

Next café: Sunday, 25 August 2019, 10am – 1pm
Castlemaine Town Hall, Lyttleton St

Greetings, all! Yes, the next café is upon us, and to get us into the spirit, here’s a story of note that featured recently in The Fifth Estate: “The rise of the repairers is subversive… but excellent news”

In France, it is now a crime attracting up to two years jail for directors of companies that deliberately design products to have a reduced lifespan …

The transition to a circular economy needs a system-wide adjustment that designs out waste and pollution while maximising the longevity of products and materials …

The Rise of the repairers is subversive… but excellent news

Photo byCesar Carlevarino AragononUnsplash

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Volunteering, Making A World Of Difference.

via Volunteering, Making A World Of Difference.

We are the RUDE Guys, at home tinkering about and aka Mend It, Australia when we are volunteering in communities around Victoria, at repair cafe events.

We woke up this morning to a photograph of us over on Gippsland Unwrapped’s blog [refer link at top of this blog post].  It was a pleasant surprise and lovely gesture to be featured in Tammy’s story of her volunteering, and the benefits of volunteering.

Danny and I choose to informally volunteer at repair cafe events because we retain control of our volunteering.  In other words there are no agreements or contracts to sign.  We like to keep our few hours volunteering each week, simple.  If we signed up formally, we would expect to be paid employees!

As Tammy wrote on volunteering, and we agree:

“It helps create communities of informed, inspired and committed people engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. “

And we know the joy expressed by Michelle Fisher, the coordinator of Melbourne Repair Cafe when she wrote the following to the repair cafe volunteers:

“Not only have you [volunteers] spread the art and skill of repair, helping people to maintain the things they cherish or find useful, but you greet every visitor (and each other) with such respect, kindness and good humour. “



Image via Milpara Community House, Korumburra.  Original image via Melbourne Repair Cafe

“Beat The Man and refuse to be voluntold ~ volunteering our own way, is the way to go for us!” 
Kaz+Dan Ellis ~ Mend It, Australia


Jo Murray is connecting her community

“We ended up taking it to the Melbourne Repair Café (Inner West) in Yarraville where we met this lovely volunteer, James. He unscrewed the plastic casing, straightened the cord out and jiggled a couple of levers, plugged it into the power and it worked. He got me to put it back together again so next time it stops working, I’ll be confident to repair it myself.”

Jo Murray / Co-ordinator Surf Coast Repair Cafe

It was lovely to come across Matilda’s blog post and be inspired by it. It was time to share. Of late, us RUDE [Reusers of Unloved Discarded Excess] Guys have not had much time for our blog. Like Jo Murray, on Victoria’s Surf Coast, we too have been involved in the repair cafe movement, albeit a little bit differently to Jo.

Jo, organises a monthly repair cafe for her local community whereas we attend and volunteer at events organised by others, like Jo. We have not volunteered at the Surf Coast Repair Cafe but who knows we may get down that way one day.

Jo mentions James at Melbourne Repair Cafe and we too have had the pleasure of volunteering, as fixers with him, at repair cafes in Melbourne’s Yarraville and Moonee Ponds.

When we travel to repair cafes we are known as Mend It, Australia. In the last couple of years, we have volunteered at over 60 community repair events and travelled nearly 9,000kms. So far this year, at the end of April, we would have volunteered at 17 repair cafes.

We were hoping this year to tinker travel to other repair cafes across Australia, but life had other plans for us. Maybe in 2020, we can hit the backroads. Time will tell, but in the meantime, we feel with still have a lot more to offer closer to home.

The Village

DSC02641Jo Murray welcoming people to the Surf Coast Repair Cafe                        photo by Charlotte Bowra

I met Jo through my old friend Sue Guinness. Jo and Sue got together about 20 years ago and since then, I’ve followed their personal journeys with interest.  Both left jobs in Melbourne, embarked on a sea-change and are very active in their local community at Fairhaven on Victoria’s Surf Coast.

Living by the sea has created opportunities for my environmentally conscious friends to be involved in conservation initiatives. Jo cultivates an enormous vegetable patch, is a member of the Community Garden and volunteers at the Tip Shop. With Sue’s support, she recently started a Repair Café.  I spoke with Jo about why she focuses on building awareness and practical initiatives in her community.

I love the outdoors. I was born in Launceston and spent…

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Tinker Travellers Clock Up 4,000 Kms

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”
Mary Angelou


Mend It, Australia arriving at the Rye Community House for its monthly repair cafe

Us RUDE Guys were originally planning to drive to one Victorian repair cafe a month.  In the last couple of months we have been volunteering weekly at different repair cafes, and a fortnight ago we went to two repair cafes in one weekend!



What do we get out of these events?  The smiles and expressions of gratitude for starters.

From February this year until now, we have calculated that we have driven a distance of 4,000 kms on our mission to mend!!  To provide a visual of how far 4,000kms is, refer to the map of Australia below.  Represented by the hand drawn red line, Darwin is a 3,741kms drive from where we live in Melbourne.



Great to get this vintage Singer Sewing Machine stitching again.

Tinker travelling to repair cafe or similar events is a great way for us to share our passion for reuse and repair, as well as engage with other like-minded people.   Each repair cafe follows a documented model but there are some tweeks made to proceedings that make each cafe unique.  And us RUDE Guys get to experience these delightful differences as we tinker travel around.



And what can you bring to a repair cafe?  Anything you can carry in the door.

In an attempt to explain our role to the individual repair cafe groups, it was important for us to be clear about what we were doing and why.  Tinker travelling to  different repair cafes on a weekly basis is not the same as a local volunteer turning up to their town’s monthly repair cafe event.  And it is not the same as a non-local turning up to the same monthly repair cafe in a suburb just down the highway.



Let there be light…and there was!


So far this year we have tinker travelled to six different repair cafes, and regularly returned to two of them, under the banner of Mend It, Australia.  When we arrive at these events, along with other volunteers, we are kept busy repairing, mending and fixing from the get go.

However, we are always mindful and sometimes vocal of Mend It, Australia’s goals, which are to stand up for the individual’s right to repair, to champion self-mobilised volunteering and to promote [via our networks] some of the amazing  repair work of individuals, groups or businesses involved in keeping stuff out of landfill.



If you’re lucky you may get more than one thing fixed at a repair cafe.


Most people are amazed that we travel such a distance to help them.  And we get some lovely commentary on-line:

“Great work Karen & Danny, such wonderful generosity to help other people and the environment.”  Gillian

“Your just such wonderful repairers.  You have such a beautiful passion.” Karen

“We need more of this in our world today.” Trudy



It’s rare for Mend It, Australia [Kaz+Dan] to have a photo together at a repair cafe.  

The most common comment people at repair cafes make is that maybe we can start a repair cafe up in Melton [where we live in Melbourne]

We highlight that we will not be doing that, because we are happier tinker travelling to non-formally volunteer in communities with a stronger focus on sustainability and with supportive bureaucrats who trust their communities to ‘get on with it’.

However, if a repair cafe ever started up in the City of Melton, we might support and tinker travel to it.  But probably not because in 2019, we hit the back roads to tinker travel to other Australian states.   And in between times we still want to visit our repair cafe families in Victoria which are only going to grow bigger.

Beat The Man and tinker travel if you can!!

Darwin 3741 kms from Melbourne

In seven months Mend It, Australia has tinker travelled a distance equivalent to driving from Melbourne to Darwin and some more.

Tinkerers & Waste Warriors


MIA collage Morwell

Our Waste Warrior mission is about keeping good items out of landfill by mending, fixing and repairing them at organised repair cafe events.  We also mend, fix and repair at home.

Our story features on the about section of our Facebook page at Mend It, Australia.  Us RUDE Guys [Kaz+Dan]
would like to share it here as well.

Karen Ellis has always been fascinated by the resourcefulness of individuals who mend, fix and repair their things.

“As a child, I vividly and affectionately remember moments of my mother mending and making do, such as turning my father’s thinning work shirt collars. Whilst I have always been mindful of not being wasteful with my things and with my money, it was not until I retired that I found time to share my mending and resourceful ways with others on Facebook at Rude Record.”

Karen’s husband Danny has trade qualifications, and has many transferable tinkering skills. When the couple was blindsided by bureaucrats and prohibited from informally volunteering their mending, fixing and repairing skills in their local community, they decided to tinker travel to other Victorian communities, and share their passion for reuse and repair.

“Together, Danny and I became known as Mend It, Australia. We are self-directed, self-funded and self resourced volunteers who currently travel to organised and free repair cafe events in Victoria. And in 2019 we are planning to travel interstate and volunteer at more of these repair cafes.”

Karen administrates the Facebook group Mend It, Australia which features stories from their tinker travels. She also shouts out about other individuals, groups and repair businesses doing great things, related to keeping good stuff out of landfill.

“I am a staunch advocate for the right to repair and to reuse recycled materials. My all time favourite quote is about thrift by G.K. Chesterton.”

“Thrift is the really romantic thing; economy is more romantic than extravagance…thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste…if a man could undertake to make use of all the things in his dustbin, he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare.”

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Tinkering Twosome

“Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force; he who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger.”  James Allen


Beat The Man by not waiting for permission to be involved in your communities.  Get out there without fear, and do grassroots good stuff.  It’s fun, challenging and very rewarding!

Us RUDE Guys have been busy attending Repair Cafes in regional areas.  As Mend It, Australia, we make ourselves available to volunteer at these events about twice a month.  We are self directed, self funded and self resourced.  We are travelling philanthropists who, if invited,  give our time and skills to communities hosting repair cafes.

Repair Cafes are free events organised by local communities.  People bring items to be repaired, fixed or mended by volunteer fixers.   Toss it?  No way! is the slogan from the International Repair Cafe Foundation

Fix It, Don’t Flick It, is our Mend It, Australia slogan. This year to date [February to May], we have attended and volunteered at a total of seven Repair Cafes in Geelong, Castlemaine and Rye.  In June we will go to La Trobe Valley Repair Cafe in Morwell for the first time.

Above:  Geelong Repair Cafe ~ Highton – 10 February, 2018

Above:  Castlemaine Repair Cafe – 25 February, 2018

Above:  Geelong Repair Cafe ~ Highton ~ 17 March, 2018

Above:  Geelong Repair Cafe ~ Highton – 14 April, 2018

Above: Castlemaine Repair Cafe – 29 April, 2018

Above: Southern Peninsula Repair Cafe ~ Rye – 20 May, 2018

Above:  Castlemaine Repair Cafe – 27 May, 2018

“He never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.” 

Mitch Horowitz from James Allen: A Life in Brief



Advanced Care Planning ~ Textiles



Image:  www

Us RUDE Guys are future planners.  We have been planning, in some way or another, for decades both individually and together.  We openly discuss death, dying and advanced care planning.

This planning that we do, for these serious life and death matters, are important to us.  However, we enjoy planning around living in the present moment.  Each day we get up out of bed, and think about what we will do.  And then we plan for our day ahead.

We are anti-consumerists, therefore its necessary that we advanced care plan around the death of our useful objects, because we do not believe in shopping for new stuff, if we can care and maintain our old stuff.  We do not like spending time in shopping malls.  Strip shops can be a pleasant browse experience, however these are few and far between where we live.  We do not get satisfaction spending our hard earned cash on new stuff that we do not want or need.  And we know that the secondhand and older objects that we own have been much better made.

Today RUDE Girl has read two lovely articles on mending, which to us RUDE Guys is a form of advanced care planning for garments and other textiles.  The articles’ links are posted below.  These articles inspired me to feature two advanced care textile plans, created by me for two of my thinning vintage tea towels.


Pure Linen Vintage Tea Towel, backed with handkerchief cotton,  made in Czechoslovakia

The above tea towel was purchased, with a pile of others, in an opportunity shop a decade ago.  It has been in use all these years and the linen fabric is getting thin.  I decided to back it with white handkerchief cotton.  This advanced care textile plan was created to ensure that when further thinning of the fabric occurs, I can reinforce any areas with running stitch.

The two vintage linen tea towels below, from the same charity shop score, have been joined together with running stitch.  The linen fabric on both tea towels was also getting very thin.  With the two tea towels now stitched together as one, this tea towel is very absorbent when drying the dishes [we do not have an electric dishwasher].


Pure Linen Vintage Tea Towels, stitched together, made in Romania

Beat The Man ~ mending is better than ending and then spending