While setting up the new gardening initiative, Charlotte Got Crops, (see “Growing in Unison”), Julian Dominic and his fellow growers realized they were missing something. Tools.
“You start this garden, and you have all these grand ideas, but what you really need are tools to get the job done,” he says. Dominic moved here from Philadelphia, where he relied on a tool library — an equipment collection shared by a community or neighborhood. His idea was simple: “Why don't we start a resource where not only us but other community projects, or other people, can access tools?”
Dominic adds, “There are so many damn people in this city doing so many cool projects, but they're all using their own tools.” Often, these weekend builders or neighborhood farmers must buy equipment they will only need a handful of times, such as a tiller, chainsaw or trusty axe. A tool library allows members check out otherwise unaffordable equipment for a limited time.
The project is still in the planning stages, Dominic notes, but perspective members will be able to make a contribution — money, volunteer hours, tools — and borrow the gear from a common space or storage shed that will be open at various times during the week and on the weekend.
“There are almost 50 tool libraries around the country now,” says project collaborator Tom Llewellyn. Some are even run by city libraries in the area, he explains.
Llewellyn and Dominic hope to find a suitable space near downtown, and might branch out into holding classes on how to use the tools for everything from creating a local farming project to building an addition. Llewellyn says the tool library might even extend to such items as a community set of dishes.
“We don't often think of those as tools, but people occasionally need more than what they have on hand,” he says. “We want to think about what people commonly need and bring in those things that many of us use, so they don't go out and get a bunch of Styrofoam.”
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— David Forbes can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 137, or firstname.lastname@example.org.