How TinkerTailor Was Born

How TinkerTailor Was Born

TinkerTailor is the Ditmas Park consignment shop that recently announced its first event. The idea for the community project came about when the two founders, Anne Black and Pietta Donovan, met in the Cortelyou Tot Lot and discussed what sort of community they’d like create for their children and themselves. It’s only been a short time but the idea has been met quite positively by the neighborhood. Anne sat down to answer a few questions and give a bit of insight into the foundations and goals of the  “community sustainability” project.

Q: Can you introduce yourself and your project to the neighborhood? Why have you two chosen now to pursue this?

A: We are Anne Black and Pietta Donovan, two moms living in Ditmas Park. We met in the Tot Lot here in the neighborhood. An initial conversation about our decisions to stay home with our young daughters and not to return to the work we did before we became parents turned into a year long exploration of how we would like to live and the kind of community we want to create for our children and ourselves.
Pietta and I collaborated for the past year with a group of parents to create a co-op play school in Pietta’s house. As we watched our children explore the world around them and develop new skills, we realized how much we want to explore and learn. Now that our children are settled in the co-op program four mornings a week, starting this really seemed possible, and we spent the spring and summer dreaming and planning. The result is TinkerTailor: a (soon-to-be incorporated) non-profit workshop, studio, and store- a place to help each other solve the small daily puzzles within the context of creating a world we want for ourselves and our children.

Q: You’ve written that you were inspired by community organizations such as Repair Cafes in Amsterdam, the Fixer’s Collective in Gowanus Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Brainery, Material for the Arts. What in particular do you like about those organizations?

A: As we developed our vision, we incorporated ideas from other organizations that we admire but have limited opportunity to participate in: the Brooklyn Brainery’s crowd-sourced tutorials come to mind- they are affordable, they are driven by community interest, and anyone with a passion can take on the role of teacher. The ethos of collaboration and partnership is essential to TinkerTailor. I had worked with Material for the Arts in the past, and really admired their commitment to sustainable practices and to helping people realize their creative dreams by providing materials to work with. We have also attended mending sessions with the Fixer’s Collective (an amazing project that grew out of a year themed “Mend” at the gallery and community space, Proteus Gowanus). That helped us to see how very simple it could be to start this. Then in May we read an article in the New York Times about Repair Cafes in Amsterdam, and we realized that we could start something in our own neighborhood, that every neighborhood could (and should) have a place for people to gather and work side by side, sharing skills, learning from each other, and connecting.

Q: Why this neighborhood?

A: This is our where we live, and where we are raising our families. It’s an amazingly diverse and creative place. I wrote about other organizations that inspired us: MFTA is wonderful, but it’s a trek. And it’s hard to get to evening events in Gowanus with small children at home and partners who work long hours. What we really need is a space to work in, close to home, with neighbors who we see frequently to collaborate with and learn from. If we can provide that, then we can begin to utilize the amazing wealth of resources that are not only out there, but also right here in our own neighborhood that is filled with people with such diverse experiences and knowledge to share.

TinkerTailor’s first event takes place on September 28 to 30 at 160 Marlborough Road. The theme of the event is back-to-school and back-to-work.


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