WCA Earth Branch seeks volunteers for first fix-it clinic

When a beloved pair of jeans rips or a wooden chair gets wobbly, it’s tempting to go shopping or log on to Amazon and order a replacement. However, mending and repairing old items is a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to buying them new. The Wrangell Cooperative Association’s upcoming “fix-it clinic” aims to create a space where community members can share their repair knowledge and where people can come to get well-loved items fixed.

Volunteers with repair skills are needed, and the event is slated to take place in mid-August. More details will be announced as it draws closer.

Environmental stewardship is a big part of WCA Earth Branch’s mission — the goal of the clinic is to share skills that can help community members make sustainable choices.

“It is to promote sustainability and the reuse of items instead of tossing items and buying new,” said Alex Angerman, the Tl’átk – Earth Branch coordinator at WCA. The clinic will also showcase Wrangell’s skilled repair-people, “(showing) the community who they can go to if they want something fixed.”

In the coming weeks, Angerman plans to start reaching out to potential volunteers with various repair skills.

Community members with skills to share can also reach out to her. Sewing and mending, wooden furniture repair, electrical repair for small household appliances and basic automotive work — “these are all things that we’re looking for,” she said. “We’re hoping that the community can bring these people out of the shadows.”

Ideally, the clinic will involve a combination of repair and education. Instead of just changing the oil on multiple cars, an automotive volunteer might walk attendees through the process so that they can do it on their own. “It could be up to the discretion of each person that’s volunteering,” Angerman said, to determine the ratio of education to repairs that they want to take on.

This year will be the first time WCA has ever held an event of this kind. Because the clinic is so new, she isn’t sure how many volunteers and attendees will participate, but she hopes that it will be successful enough to become a recurring event. “We can do it yearly if it becomes something people really like.”

WCA’s Tl’átk – Earth Branch was formerly known as the IGAP department, a name that referred to the federal Indian General Assistance Program grant that it administers. Changing the department’s name was “one of the first things I did when I stepped into this role,” said Angerman. “It mostly was because a lot of people didn’t know what IGAP was or stood for.” The new name reflects the full scope of the department’s work, which involves more projects than just those that fall under the IGAP umbrella.

The name is also part of the WCA’s ongoing cultural revitalization efforts. Tl’átk means “the earth we stand on,” according to the branch’s website. The name “reflects our deep appreciation for the natural world and our commitment to environmental stewardship,” the site reads. “By embracing the Lingít language, we honor the Indigenous heritage of the region and strive to create a more inclusive and culturally aware workplace.”

Potential clinic volunteers can reach out to Earth Branch by calling WCA at 907-874-4304, stopping by the office 1002 Zimovia Highway, emailing Angerman at igapcoord.wca@gmail.com or messaging her on Facebook. She is happy to communicate with potential volunteers through whatever method is most convenient for them. “Really, any way is fine with me,” she said.


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