Belmont’s First ‘Fix It Clinic’ Help Residents With Phone, Electronics Repairs

Photo: Repairs being made at a recent Fix-It Clinic event at Jamaica Plain. (Courtesy Paul Roberts)

By Paul F. Roberts

On Saturday, Feb. 9, Belmont will join a growing list of towns in Massachusetts and around the country hosting repair clinics to help residents and other community members extend the use of electronics, home appliances and even furniture and clothing.

Belmont’s first Fix-It Clinic will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Belmont Public Library on Concord Avenue. Repair coaches will be available to share their time, tools and expertise to help residents diagnose, troubleshoot and repair all manner of non-functioning items.

“Sustainable Belmont is pleased to collaborate with Belmont Public Library to bring the first in a series of Fix-It Clinics to Belmont,” said Terese Hammerle, the chair of Sustainable Belmont. “Not only do you save money, but we keep stuff from becoming trash.  Waste not; want not. It’s still true!”

The Fix-it Clinic is a family event, Hammerle said. “Curious people of all ages are welcome.”

Repair coaches will bring their tools and know-how to help residents
 repair smart phones, home electronics and appliances - even clothing

Residents can bring small appliances to be repaired, clothing and textiles to be altered or mended, small furniture, wooden items, and anything else in need of fixing, said Hammerle. Walk-ins are welcome, but residents are strongly encouraged to register their item beforehand so that repair coaches know what to expect. An online form is available for registering repair items at

“If you can carry it into the library, our expert fixers will coach you in assessment and repair of your item,” Hammerle said.

Director Peter Struzziero said the library “is proud to partner with Sustainable Belmont to offer this program for patrons of all ages. This is a great opportunity to partner with citizens and offer this service. We hope it’s just the beginning of other tech programming still being developed!”

Fix-it clinics are part of a grassroots repair movement that is gaining traction in both the US and Europe. With electronic waste the fastest growing waste stream globally, advocates say repair clinics are a way to extend the life of electronics.

“We need to take on our throwaway culture, and turn it on its head – and the first step is empower repair,” said Arlington resident Nathan Proctor, director of U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair efforts. “Community repair helps us build a culture of repair that challenges the idea that everything is disposable and they make it fun.

Residents who have questions about the Fix-it clinic can email:

Paul Roberts is a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 8.

Talk On Increasing Climate Resilience This Wednesday, Sept. 26

Photo: Flooding at Clay Pit Pond, March 2018.

Julie Wormser, deputy director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), will speak Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the Belmont Public Library on the organization’s Climate Resilience program and working with municipalities, businesses, and community organizations on a regional climate resilience strategy for the watershed.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Library’s Assembly Room.

The talk will discuss ways Belmont groups, businesses, and the town can help increase resilience to both drought and flooding from climate change. This is a meeting of the Belmont Stormwater Working Group, a collaboration between the Belmont Citizens Forum and Sustainable Belmont.

7th Annual Green Belmont Garden Tour Sunday, Sept 10

Photo: Gardening green in Belmont.

Sustainable Belmont is hosting the 7th annual Green Belmont Garden Tour on  Sunday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. come rain or shine.

The free, self-guided garden tour highlights a variety of safe and healthy organic garden practices.

See how:

  • gardeners in Belmont have changed practices after last year’s drought.
  • Learn about hearty perennial fruits, annual vegetables, and landscaping plants.
  • See different composting methods firsthand. Talk with the gardeners about all their growing habits.

This year participants can enter a chance to win a rain barrel or composter at each garden you visit. The more gardens you visit the better chances of winning! The raffle is an effort to help reach out to the Belmont community on issues of sustainability and to encourage healthy yards care in Belmont. Those garden viewers already on Sustainable’s mailing list may still enter the raffle and residency is not a requirement.

Garden tour maps can be picked up from the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. on Sept. 10, from 11 to 3 pm. Those attending can download or follow using Google Maps on the morning of the tour at But note; the page will not be available until then as a courtesy to our participating gardeners)

Reduced Price Rain Barrels Now On Sale Thru Sustainable Belmont

Photo: The rain barrels come in three suburban colors.

It’s Rain Barrel time in Belmont

Again this year, Sustainable Belmont is partnering with the Great American Rain Barrel Company of Hyde Park, to offer rain barrels to residents at nearly half the retail cost.

“Last summer’s drought was a wake up call that every drop of water is precious. We’re offering this program to help manage rising water costs and save vegetation from drought conditions,” says Amanda Mujica, a volunteer with Sustainable Belmont.

“Rain barrels are an effective way to collect and save water… and plants love unchlorinated rain water.” Barrels are easily connected to the downspouts and fill quickly, resulting in a significant source of water that homeowners could be tapping into for free.

Residents that use a rain barrel collect as much as 1,500 gallons in a season. This will save existing or new landscaping when a dry spell hits and supplement outdoor water usage, which spikes during the growing season. 

Just keeping a small 10’ x 10’ garden irrigated during the summer months can mean using up to 1,700 gallons of water. Based on the average roof size, more than two 60 gallon rain barrels would fill for every fifth of the inch of rainfall. The Great American Rain Barrel Company recommends one barrel for every 100 square feet garden. Multiple barrels are easily linked together for additional collection and storage.

The barrels are offered in three colors; Forest Green, Earth Brown or Nantucket Gray at the low cost of $69; 40 percent off the retail price of $119. Belmont buyers benefit from an additional savings of $10 because Sustainable Belmont volunteers are handling the distribution. The barrels are made from recycled food shipping containers.

Mujica will be at the Belmont Farmer’s Markets on June 8 and 15 with a Rain Barrel and Composter display. If you’re curious and want to learn more about integrating rain barrels and composters into your gardening, stop by. The Belmont Farmer’s Market is from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Belmont Center in the Clafin Municipal Parking Lot.

To take advantage of this offer please visit the company’s website, click on “Community Programs” and look for “Belmont” or contact via email, or phone 800-251-2352.

Prepaid barrels will be available for pick up on Saturday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 11:00pm at the Belmont DPW parking Lot, C Street.

Shockingly Fun: Test Drive Electric Cars Saturday at the High School

Photo: The choice of electric cars have exploded in the past five years.

Take a – quiet – test drive in an electric vehicle on Saturday, Oct. 15 and “experience the speed and power of these vehicles first hand” as the local electric utility partners up with Belmont energy and conservation groups to promote driving “plugged in.”


Sponsored by Belmont Light, in partnership with Sustainable Belmont, Belmont Energy Committee and residents, Belmont Drives Electric is a local initiative designed to highlight the benefits of driving electric vehicles and connect Belmont residents to rebates, incentives, and free test drives.

The test drive takes place from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Belmont High School off Concord Avenue in the large parking lot. 

According to the groups, plug-in electric vehicles are affordable, efficient and fun to drive! Fueling your car on electricity compared to gasoline is much cheaper and you will see additional savings from lower maintenance costs.  Plug-in electric vehicles offer a significant reduction in carbon emissions compared to gasoline vehicles.  Take a free test drive and experience the speed and power of these vehicles first hand!

In Bloom: A Sample of Belmont’s Green Garden Tour

On Sunday, Sept. 7, 10 locations around Belmont – from community plots at Rock Meadow to small backyard spaces – participated in the 4th annual Belmont Green Garden Tour, highlighting organic and sustainable gardens that use their available spaces, whether big or small, with great efficiency and imagination.

Here are just a sample of the gardens presented this year:

Peggy Kornegger, Gilbert Road

Unlike many of the gardeners, Kornegger rents her home on Gilbert Road. But despite not owning her plot, Kornegger wanted to create a space where she could plant and grow an organic garden. She asked her landlord if she could have the run of a long neglected shade-filled backyard.

After seven years, Kornegger has repaired the building’s back wall, planted shade-friendly annuals and strategically placed a row of hostas to stop a mud slide down the driveway that occurred every time it rained. Her garden is filled with a wide variety of Indigenous New England plants, such as a native honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds, as well as small statues of spiritual icons of  Buddha and St. Francis.

“I’m very spiritual and eclectic and my garden shows that,” said Kornegger. “Gradually, a mini-habitat is growing, and the yard is filled with life of all kinds.”

Karsten Kueppenbender and Siobhan O’Neill, Pine Street.

Located across busy Trapelo Road from a popular ice cream spot is Belmont’s newest bee habitat. The yellow and black beehive – is there any other colors to use? – that is new home to more than 1,000 bees is situated near the garage of the two-family Pine Street home of Karsten Kueppenbender and Siobhan O’Neill.

“My son wanted to have bees and we thought once he got old enough, then why not?” said Kueppenbender who has been slowly building his green garden beginning six years ago. They will not be harvesting any honey this year as the current crop will be used to allow the bees to use over the winter.

But the Pine Street location is more than just a honeycomb; there are raised garden beds where vegetables such as tomatoes (protected with wire as squirrels have taken to them), kale, swiss chard, along with earthier produce such as carrots and potatoes. There is even a small critter living just below one the beds.

The location is also where two praying mantises couples have come to dine, eats bumble bees but leaves the honey-variety alone, said Kueppenbender.

“That’s good for us,” he said. “Not so for the bumble bees.”

Joan Teebagy, Washington Street

There’s a large rabbit in a cage out front of Joan Teebagy’s house – a wonderful fertilizer, she notes – next to raised beds filled with a variety of cheery tomatoes, broccoli, squash and other produce. For the past nine years, Teebagy has been adding a little bit more each season to her front yard garden.

Out back is a brand new sunny backyard, made possible when a five-foot ash came down, where this year she grew native “painted” corn, the first time she ever grew it.

“My own ‘Field of Dreams,’ Teebagy proclaimed, said she will attempt to grind the kernels into flowers.

Teebagy has a virtual farm outback: there are a raft of ducks for the eggs – the sign at the gate warns all to close the gates less the they flee – a few chickens (“just visiting for dinner,” said Teebagy, with a knowing wink) a couple more bunnies along with Belmont’s only “barn” cat, Michu, which happily lives in the garage.

“The Animal Rescue League said she was un-adoptable and unfriendly,” said Teebagy as Michu saunters up to every visitor for a pet and a scratch. “I think they were wrong.”

Tour de Sustainability: Visit Belmont’s Green Gardens on Sunday

Visit 10 of the most sustainable gardens in Belmont and talk with their caretakers at the 4th annual Belmont Green Garden Tour this Sunday, Sept. 7 from noon to 3 p.m.

The tour – which includes Rock Meadow to a pair of homes on Baker Street – is sponsored by Sustainable Belmont.

Visitors will find everything from hoop-houses to compost know-how; beautiful perennials to delicious annuals along with a bunny tractor. Pick up some new knowledge, commiserate on the dry season and enjoy the day with us.

Printed maps are available on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Beech Street Center or download the brochure: Sustainable Belmont Green Garden Tour 2014. Participants can follow this link to Google Map of the Green Garden Tour 2014.