Here's an inspiring story about the Fixers' Collective in Brooklyn, a co-op that holds free open surgeries where people can bring their broken stuff for repair. The Fixers make no guarantees (they learned to fix stuff by taking it apart and trying to get it back together again), but they also don't charge anything; what's more, they'll teach you what they know so you can fix your stuff yourself.
"It makes people feel proud of themselves – a little less helpless," Ms. Pittman says. "Everything breaks. Everything. These days, and especially with all this electronic equipment, we have no clue – no idea at all – how to fix stuff. We are pretty much at the mercy of our computers, our cellphones. The Fixers' Collective helped us become a little more self-sufficient. It is an attitude as much as anything."
Pittman draws a direct line from the financial crash of 2008 – "which made a lot of people, and certainly us, less inclined to trust the experts" – to the creation of the collective. But it is also true, as Pittman hints, that many Americans worry that they have become more reliant on their belongings and more disconnected about how they work.