This month, in partnership with the Festival of Maintenance and Maker Assembly, we ask whether thinking and talking about innovation can lead us to neglect maintenance and maintainers and fail to recognise the potential for repair, reuse and recycling, those who keep things going and the often hidden work done in repair, custodianship, stewardship, tending and caring for the things that matter.
Maintenance work can be routine or highly skilled and maintainers can be found in many contexts, including nature, software, infrastructure, communities, industry, information technology, arts and heritage and work across traditional disciplines of maintenance, repair and stewardship and new areas such as supporting digital products, sustaining open source software, and moderating online communities. They are involved in design for repair and reuse, local manufacturing, software and open hardware maintenance, remanufacturing, dataset stewardship, online and offline communities or the physical and digital commons.
Join us for an evening of new ideas and lively discussion.
Naomi Turner is one of the organisers of the Festival of Maintenance. In her day job, Naomi is a Product Manager at the Ministry of Justice, thinking about what the internet means for people in prison.
She says, “I became involved in the festival partly as an outlet for my frustration about a culture that focuses on the shiny and new, especially when we barely care for what we already have.
Many think that maintenance is unskilled, repetitive, ‘low’ work – indeed the opposite of innovation, but this simply isn’t true. My hope is that the Festival highlights how varied and undervalued maintenance is as an activity, and that it fosters new conversations about how we can better care for others around us, our communities and environment.”
Lauren Hutchinson is Managing Director of Oxford Hackspace, a core organizer for the UK Hackspace Foundation, a lifelong equality and minorities activist, geek herder, sign languages enthusiast and ASL community mod. Her background in minority law, post-colonial literature and translation helps shape her work as a leader in the maker community, and more recently she has studied radio, electronics, and boundaried empathy and connection between people.
She has lived all over the world, trying to learn how to care for people, and once nearly had to help deliver a baby during an AGM. She will talk about burnout, pressures and bullying in low emotional quotient communities, and share thoughts on what maintainers and volunteers can do to safeguard and heal their communities and themselves.
This year’s Festival of Maintenance will be held in Liverpool in September and aims to share learning around maintainer skills and tools and how maintenance is resourced and rewarded, and to boost the morale of maintainers across sectors with inspiring ideas and stories. Find out more about the festival at: https://festivalofmaintenance.org.uk/
Maker Assembly aim to make a home for critical discussion about maker culture: its meaning, politics, history and future.
What do we mean by “making”? We’re talking about people who craft, design, manufacture, tinker with, engineer, fabricate, and repair physical things. Art, craft, electronics, textiles, products, robots. Hi-tech and low-tech, amateur and professional, young and old, with digital tools or by hand. Historical perspectives, what’s happening here and now, and how things might change in the future. We aim to be diverse and inclusive. If what you make, or how you see yourself, is a little bit on the fringes, you’re doubly welcome.
Maker Assembly are supported by the Comino Foundation.