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Local mending circle stitches together connection 

Kathrin Achenbach, the organizer of Make Mends Meet, provides materials for the event/Source: Syd Pierre
“I think that when you repair clothing, this extends to repairing something else,” Kathrin Achenbach, the organizer of Make Mends Meet, said. 

Achenbach has been hosting mending circles at the Soil Factory since March 2023 and recently partnered with Story House Ithaca to host her first mending circle at Buffalo Street Books on Oct. 26. 

Threading the needle for partnership

Achenbach, who has been sewing since she was young, said that she thought the act of mending clothes has made a comeback in recent years, as people have become more environmentally conscious. 

“So I thought, well, I want to do something with people and I want to sort of do something with sustainability,” Achenbach said. “And after the pandemic, it seemed like a perfect moment to just get together with people and repair something.” 

Attendees of the event brought a variety of projects with them, including clothes to mend/Source: Syd Pierre

Story House is a community arts organization in Ithaca, focused on bringing people together to share stories in a variety of formats.  Similarly, Jon Miller, the co-director of Ithaca Story House, said that the pandemic played a large role in the beginnings of Story House, which started in 2021. 

“I think our attitude toward public gathering and toward connection really changed during the pandemic,” Miller said. “It was so hard and in some ways, people became more adapted to being by themselves and not connecting, but I think there was a real hunger for connection. And we felt that too.”

Miller attended a few mending circles that Achenbach hosted at the Soil Factory and said that he thought her values aligned closely to the type of community connection that they try to create with Ithaca Story House. 

Miller said that during the first Make Mends Meet he attended, he talked to Achenbach about trying to make things more beautiful instead of just restoring something. He said the phrase she used of “care made visible” really stuck with him.

“This is the way we communicate with other people, care for other people, care for the things we have, care for the planet, care for people we love or care about the communities we live in,” Miller said. “A lot of the time, you don’t see that and here’s an opportunity to just celebrate the fact that you’re fixing something that’s broken.”

Sharing the space 

Story House Ithaca recently partnered with Buffalo Street Books to share their event space on Thursday afternoons. Achenbach said she was interested in holding an event in a space that would be more conveniently located to the community.

The event was held at Buffalo Street Books/Source: Syd Pierre

Cindy Stevens, a choreographer, dancer and environmentalist, attended the most recent mending circle and said that she had gone to the events at the Soil Factory for months. She said she liked the sense of community the events provided her with and wanted to come support the event, especially now that it was being held more locally in town.

“There’s an intersection of art and ecology like art and science,” Stevens said. “I’m also trained as an ecologist. So I kind of overlap both ends. I love the aspect of repurposing things or helping them have longer lives, too.”

The event at Buffalo Street Books saw a sizable turnout, but Achenbach said that her goal is always about creating connections, no matter the size of the group.

“When people have never done this, it’s also nice to have a small group because then you can kind of teach a skill, but also listen to the various stories because everybody usually brings a garment,” Achenbach said. “And those garments tell stories, not the garments, but the people who come with the garment.”

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