Car sharing, bike sharing, house sharing — with spring’s approach, it’s time for some gardening tool sharing. Like Sustainable West Seattle and NE Seattle before them, Sustainable Capitol Hill is starting a Capitol Hill Tool Library.
“We as a community have a collection of junk that people can access, then people don’t have to go out and buy their own stuff,” said Gina Hicks, a member of the committee driving the tool library effort in the neighborhood.
Sharing includes every-day tools, and more specialized items as well. According to Micah Summers, manager of the West Seattle Tool Library, getting tool donations isn’t too much of a problem. In West Seattle they have everything from pliers and shovels to laser cutters and cement mixers. Summers showed CHS around the impressive array of tools in West Seattle and described how they are organized. A member of West Seattle developed a custom software system called Local Tools that West Seattle uses to organize the libary.
Starting out, Capitol Hill isn’t likely to have as extensive a collection, but West Seattle has been running for three years. To help on Capitol Hill, you can swing by Monday night’s Sustainable Capitol Hill book swap or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plan is to provide an opportunity for people to donate power tools and hand tools that would otherwise gather dust, or incur an occasional use. Instead, suggests SCH, those tools could be put to use by neighbors. There is an ulterior educational and social empowerment agenda, but mostly it is about providing an arguably green and useful service. Things are still in the planning stages, so there is ample opportunity to get involved.
The two main concerns for the moment are funding and location — mostly location. West Seattle operates out of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, and the NE Seattle Tool Library shares a space the The Bike Shack on NE 80th, which is in a space owned by a church.
Teaming up with the Seattle Farm Co-op is one idea that Hicks would like to pursue. Finding a like-minded collective, or a generous patron with a garage could be the answer.
If necessary the library could move from garage to garage, if that ended up being the most viable option. Hicks and the rest of the committee are open to ideas regarding location. The upside of having a more permanent location (apart from people being able to easily find it) is that it would enable more of the educational element to surface according to Hicks. Learning how to use tools, fixer collectives where broken tools might be fixed by eager tinkerers — these are the more grand elements for planting seasons to come.
The existing libraries operate based on a voluntary membership donations. West Seattle started with a Department of Neighborhoods grant, and NE Seattle with a Clean Spaces grant. The CHTL committee is seeking similar funding. Grant writers are also welcome.
It would seem that all of the pieces are set for the Hill to have its own tool library. Seeing if there is the necessary will and demand is what’s next.
You can learn more at sustainablecapitolhill.org.