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Greetings lovely friends, happy Wednesday. Whereas the Wombles made good use of things they found, Bagpuss and friends took old objects and fixed like new. Related ideas, novel in the Seventies, that now feel fundamental. Yet our appetite for new stuff is rampant (in part because our stuff is unfixable) and manufacturing comes at a high environmental cost. It's time to be more Bagpuss.
UNREPAIRABLES: As a general trend, we're still moving away from having a small number of items that we maintain for a long time, towards a great many things that we lack the skill to repair. To compound this, the things we own are increasing in manufacturing complexity made of many combined materials (see this AirPod teardown).

If we can't dismantle our stuff, this makes it both hard to recycle at the end of its life, and also hard to maintain and repair, even when such skills are available. So at the end of their life, working or not, they end up stockpiled in our homes. The thing is, the point at which there's a high-tech device stashed in a drawer is the worst time to start thinking about what to do with it longer term. If we want to keep our things in good order (and/or easily transform them when we're done), it's much easier to do this at the point of manufacture, rather than the point of expiry.

Products like the Fairphone, a smartphone made of many recycled materials and featuring replaceable components designed with long service and repair in mind, exemplify this upstream thinking. But while it targets those looking to tread more lightly, it's by no means ideal: there's still a substantial carbon cost to its manufacture and, although spare parts are available, it's still going to be very hard to recycle any broken bits without an energy investment. πŸ“²

πŸ”Š Last Friday I was lucky enough to witness Jules Buckley, the Heritage Orchestra and guests blow the roof off the Albert Hall by bringing breakbeat and hip hop culture to Prom 64. I've been to a fair few Proms this year and last; this stood out a mile, not least for the inclusion of breakdancers Soul Mavericks. While it's a it's a masterful commission, the BBC has lost its way reaching the kinds of people who'd have relished this, so it went sadly under-promoted. Fortunately you can listen to the whole thing for a month.

πŸ“ Here's an affiliate link, but one that's absolutely earned its right to be here: if you haven't tried Notion, give it a go. Over the last couple of months I've found it an ace way to put bits and bobs of information together. This email and the last and next few all begin life in Notion, where I can pull together the words and links and so on. I'm also using it to plan future travel and work stuff, and generally getting stuff done. Generous free usage tier too. Sign up and see. ❀️

πŸ“¨ Invisible Women is an excellent new newsletter by Caroline Criado Perez, author of the book of the same name about gender bias in data. [thanks BC]

πŸ“ˆ How to Get Better at Embracing Unknowns. Get to grips with uncertainty via the magic of data visualisation.

🚢 Why Slow Mornings May Be the Secret to Tech-Life Balance: the strategies for achieving better health in the digital age are simple to grasp but hard to achieve.

πŸ“Ž The Perfection of the Paper Clip: invented in 1899, it hasn’t been improved upon since.

🚬 Vaping: A Lesson in Irony. Smoking by students has reached historic lows in the past few years, but a new product is threatening to revive an addiction we all thought was over. Say hello to Vaping.

πŸ€” If Sapiens were a blog post: an extraordinary edit of Yuval Noah Harari's lengthy tome.
We will fix it: In another commissioning success story, the BBC has an unlikely success-story that television person Richard Osman rightly calls "the absolute best show on telly". While at first glance it looks like any other antique-ish show, The Repair Shop calls itself an antidote to throwaway culture.

However, its delight is in the human stories surrounding the objects in disrepair. These items often have no intrinsic value, but instead are loaded with sentimental importance. This makes the show a celebration of value beyond monetary which, perhaps, is something we could do with hunting down actively.

While the skills for repairing are unevenly distributed across generations, perhaps repair as an act of recognising their true value is to be celebrated. To that end, the Festival of Maintenance, coming to Liverpool this month, celebrates those who keep things in good order. Also this month, Fix Fest comes to Berlin to celebrate repair by communities.

If the culture of disposability grates upon you, there are a fair few pioneering souls scattered around the place from whom you might draw inspiration. Some are addressing maintenance more abstractly, such as The Maintainers, while others are hands-on, like the Guerilla Groundsman and his random acts of tidying.

I like Cheltenham's Regeneration Repair Cafe, where volunteers help fix broken stuff. Similarly The Restart Project holds restart parties to get electronics going again and reduce e-waste. And if you fancy doing it yourself, tool libraries are popping up like this nice-looking one in Edinburgh. πŸ› 
Finally: What do you do with a derelict Center Parcs? Map out a waste-free world. Appropriately, a disused holiday camp in Rotterdam has been transformed into a hub for the burgeoning circular economy. ♻️

Leapin' lizards, it's the bottom of the email. More good stuff next week. Know someone who likes interesting things? And whose dreary inbox would benefit from an injection of interestingness? Of course you do! They can join in at momorgan.com/blast. πŸ’Œ

Found something I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from youβ€”hit reply! If these emails are not being delivered correctly, try adding this address to your contacts. Meanwhile all back-issues are in the archive.

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