By Tamara Anne Fowler | CNA Media Team
“The Fix-It Fairs are a great resource for neighbors who want to learn how to save money, keep their families healthy and improve their homes,” Arianne Sperry reported.
She should know. Arianne is a city employee and nearby neighbor – just four blocks into Woodlawn neighborhood – who has volunteered for more than five years at the events. You may see her at the Saturday, Feb. 24, fair between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at Madison High School.
“There are exhibitors who can answer questions and point you in the right direction on a number of topics from pesticide-free gardening, to recycling, to how to get around by bike,” she said. “You can even pick up free helpful tools like a faucet aerator or a lead paint test kit.”
The Fix-It Fairs occur three times a year during the winter months, when people are thinking the most about utility savings, keeping healthy and budgeting household finances. The fairs have been held continuously for 31 years.
Sponsors are the Portland bureaus of Planning & Sustainability and Water, Energy Trust of Oregon and Pacific Power, with KUNP Univision and KBOO Community Radio as media sponsors.
The sites change from year to year. Fairs are usually held at middle or high schools which have the room needed to host upwards of 70 community program info tables and the classrooms for dozens of workshops. The Madison event is the closest of the 2018 Fix-It Fairs to Concordia neighborhood.
“You can bring in things that need repair, like clothes or small appliances, and that alone makes a visit worthwhile,” Arianne explained. “But my favorite part of the fairs are the classes. As a new homeowner, a lot of home improvements feel really daunting.
“A lot of people come with a specific class in mind or an item that needs repair. I direct them to the classroom or the repair café. And then, when they’re heading out, I love to hear their excitement at a mission accomplished. They’re waving their now-working lamp or they’ve got a look of determination in their eyes – and an armful of supplies – as they head home to disconnect their downspouts.”
“Everything is free, including lunch, and even childcare is provided.”
Each fair is different, and every season of fairs is different, according to Arianne. But the core offerings remain the same: community programs that provide free or low-cost resources that encourage healthful and sustainable choices.