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Bolton Repair Clinic Teaches DIY Skills

By Nancy Arsenault

Is your house filled with things you’d love to fix but just don’t have the skills? Stow residents are invited to take part in a repair clinic in Bolton at the end of September, sponsored by a group that thinks it’s time to get back to the basics – including fixing what’s broken instead of buying new.

Bolton Local, a resident group dedicated to encouraging sustainable living in all facets of life, is sponsoring the Repair Café on Saturday,  September 28 at the Houghton Building in Bolton. Anyone – including Stow residents –  with a broken “something”  can stop in for repair time. Unlike a Fix-It shop where an item is dropped off to be serviced by someone else, the Repair Café will have a slew of volunteers available to assess the problem, determine the solution, and then teach and assist the items’ owners to do the repair themselves.   There is no fee for admission or for any services rendered and the event is open to anyone in the area looking for a fix.

Bolton Local is hoping to encourage people to save and fix rather than throw away and buy new. “It’s that phrase ’Throw Away’ that is a perfect example of the problem,” said Bolton Local co-founder Lynda King. “Where is ‘away’? It’s somewhere on this planet.”

King says that learning to fix our own things is a step in the right direction toward sustainability, a phrase she admits is very over used. She refers to older generations who took care of their needs, aided their neighbors, and occasionally purchased what they couldn’t produce. “They didn’t say they were living sustainably. They were just living,” she said.

Bolton Local is one of several groups in MetroWest addressing a variety of topics that affect daily life, without bureaucracy, without funding, but with a strong volunteer effort; creating groups that are changing the way life is viewed in their towns. Hudson is moving forward with Renewed in Hudson and Green Marlborough is making strides in that community. All of these groups are hoping to encourage people to become conscious of sustainable lifestyles and practices, while learning basic life skills that may have fallen off the radar in this technology-focused generation.

King and co-founder Laura Kischitz created Bolton Local after viewing the documentary “The End of Suburbia,” which gives a critical look at America’s communities and their future as North America reaches peak demand for fossil fuels, all drawn from a limited supply.   King, a former newspaper editor and writer, believes that life as we know it cannot exist forever, and it’s time that people become more self-reliant.

While King has  always had a knack for homesteading skills,she thought the Bolton community may want to think about what they are doing and how dependent they may be on others, on mass-produced products and technology to ensure their existence and their happiness.

King laughs off the comments that Bolton Local is all about going green to the extreme, churning butter and sewing clothes. Learning to repair broken items can be considered a lost art that is worth reviving, she said. Another may be learning to grow, preserve and even cook the majority of your food. While some may scoff at the idea of a labor intensive garden plot, canning food in the harvest season, or slaving over a hot stove when there are grocery stores and restaurants bursting with options, King points to the changing climate as a reason to get up close and personal with your kitchen and your food.

She recalled the last severe ice storm when roads and businesses were closed and power was out in many towns for a week, including Bolton. She said a neighbor knocked on her door, asking for food after a few days. King realized that while her pantry was fully stocked with all kinds of items she had personally prepared and put up months before, others, especially those who relied on a freezer for storage, were not as lucky. Bolton Local responded by offering a variety of food preparation seminars and workshops, also open to residents of any town.

The group has also sponsored town events, like a Townwide Yard Sale, occurring every year on the same weekend in May. According to King, it is a day that is a much anticipated event on the local calendar.   The group worked with town government to secure a parcel for Community Garden plots, a local amenity that has only been available in Bolton for the last three years.  There are sub groups that inform residents about Emergency Preparedness and they have published a townwide phone directory.  They have developed special interest discussion groups such as those for residents raising back yard chickens (The Coop Group) and a shop local initiative.

“We’re not an activist group,” explained King of her all volunteer organization, but said it’s a group looking to promote common sense, something that can be applied in any community.  Stow’s town government is already addressing many of the issues that Bolton Local is bringing forward through programs such as the Community Gardens, Emergency Preparedness, and Clean Energy.  King said that Stow and other towns can still explore and emphasize basic skills and personal responsibility for oneself and one’s neighbors. “It’s a pretty simple concept,” she said.

The Repair Café will take place at the Houghton Building on Main Street in Bolton, from 9am – 1pm on September 28. For more information on other Bolton Local events and workshops, visit boltonlocal.org

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