Vermont Ilsley Public Library: Vermont Child E-Waste Tinkerers

Today (Friday March 15, 2013) is an "In-Service Day" in Addison County, and the Middlebury public schools are closed.   One of those days that's not a holiday for parents, and we schedule little things like tonsillectomy (my son, 8:00AM), or trips to the dentist (my 16 year old twins) if we are thinking far enough ahead.

If you are in Middlebury Vermont today, and you didn't plan that far ahead, here's another opportunity.  Good Point Recycling and the Ilsley Public Library are putting on a Special Event for Kids.  In the spirit of the "maker movement", "yankee ingenuity", and can-do tinkerer blessing, we will exploit ... 'err.. hold on, I'm getting an urgent call from our PR office.

Imagination Vacation:  Tinkering With Technology

Imagination Vacation: Tinkering with Technology
March 15, 2013 10:30 am
March 15, 2013 12:00 pm
March 1, 2013
Community meeting room
Ilsley Public Library,Middlebury
This hands-on workshop allows school-age children the freedom to explore the art and science of  ”how stuff works” in the spirit of the popular “maker movement.”  Library staff and re-use experts from Good Point Recycling will help you use hand tools to explore the mechanics of a variety of technologies from computers to telephones.  Bring your own hand tools, such as screwdrivers and pliers if you have them.  Adults and welcome too.

Is tinkering with a computer a blessing or a toxic curse?  One could imagine a lot of reasons not to be involved with this... if one of these kids grows up wrong, will we get sued?

The parallel to the Tinkerers Blessing, my theory of repair value preservation leading to leapfrogging economies in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Dubai, etc., is profound.  How do we decide what is safe for our developing kids to do?  How do we decide what is safe for developing nations to do?  What hath paternalism wrought?

If out of fear, we take this lesson away from our kids, what will we sacrifice?

Would one of them still grow up, like Kyle Wiens, to found /  Will they be more likely or less likely to get a job in technology because of this "exposure" to technology?   Will they ever grow up to join the Refurbishers Group?  Or FreeGeek?  Or the famous Silicon Sam Goldwasser of  What about Willie Cade of PCRR?

Or will "Yankee Ingenuity" be taught as an arkane past practice, like outhouses and witch trials?  Is the Repair Manifesto too big a threat to Big Shred and Planned Obsolescence?  What is empowerment made of?

The two year old Vermont Laws on disassembly don't actually make any reference to "Very Small Quantity Generators" (VSQGs in EPA speak) or "VSQ Recyclers"... or any exemptions...

Today's recyclers are certainly going to be very small, whatever quantity they recycle, repair, or replace.  And they will have face time with John Fontanilles, our most recent VP (Quality Control) at Good Point Recycling.  John is an example of my other theory...  Our in-house reuse and repair program, 5 years ago, was a bit of a failure.   Our online and Vermont retail sales combined did not cover the payroll, much less the overhead, that we put into it.  I stubbornly insisted that I knew it was possible, and attributed it to R&D, or to marketing the image of reuse.   John was our 8th hire trying out the online sales, refurb and support.

That was 6 "failures" (if you count another promotion to truck driver - Crystal Johnson, our friendliest driver, and a spokesperson and several other Vermont community television events).   Our very first reuse / "ebay" hire in the company, Colin Davis, was the other success.  Colin went on to do "downstream" visits to the Big Secret Factories in Indonesia and Malaysia, before becoming a VP of Operations.  Five failed payroll experiments, and two Vice Presidents.

Crystal Johnson Powered
Many recyclers say that it's smarter to turn it all into scrap... you go for the "fast nickel" instead of the "slow dime".  There's some truth to that.  But the reuse and tinkerer economy is about more than money.  It's a way to bring the kind of quality person - like John F, Crystal J,  or Colin D - into your company.  When the transplant works, you get something of immense value.

Our most recent "Repair Geek" hire, in January, is named Eric Prempeh of Vergennes Vermont.  He grew up in Ghana and was a repair and maintenance technician at Nestle (infant formula and powdered milk company) in Accra.   I hope he'll have a chance to tell the kids at Ilsley library how much learning about computers work can improve your chances, and offer you an alternative to things like drugs, crime, and worse.

Will today's event at Ilsley Library turn into another Vermont Child E-Waste Worker scandal?

What Brave New World was about was indoctrination, a government system that replaced families.  One of the lessons taught:  "Ending is Better than Mending"...

iFixit's self-repair manifesto

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