Apr 5, 2012

An Evening With the West Seattle Tool Libary

(Posted by Amy K.) 
Last night Sustainable Seattle and the West Seattle Tool Library joined forces to teach and engage the community. The topic? The West Seattle Tool Library and the idea of shared libraries: Person to Person share programs. This was the pilot workshop in our Neighborhoods Program, which publishes a newsletter once a month and will begin hosting a workshop in the community also about once a month. The idea grew from S2’s mission to seek out and support individuals, organizations, and businesses who are working towards a positive change and more sustainable future in their neighborhood.

What are the Neighborhood Workshops? 
Through the newsletters, we tell the story of a project, how it got started, lessons learned along the way, and what it means for the future of sustainability in the community. Through the workshops, we aim to engage the community members to get involved with the cause in their community and also hope to inspire some to grab the idea and run with it, implementing it or starting it in their own neighborhood.
The West Seattle Tool Library couldn’t be a more perfect choice for our first workshop, after all, we awarded them our “Innovator inSustainability in Social Environment” award just a few months ago. They represent what we are working towards in the community and were more than happy to share their story. Their goal from the very beginning wasn’t to start the biggest tool library, as the presenter, Patrick Dunn, explained. Their goal was to create a design that could be duplicated by anyone. 
The idea began when a few people started thinking about the things that were sitting around their house, not being used, and how these things would be better off and get more use if they were out in the community. They started asking people to donate any tools they didn’t use regularly. One of the first weekends, they offered a coupon to a local nursery to everyone who brought in a tool. Everyone benefited; community members were able to engage with others in their community and help a local cause, they freed up space in their closets and garages, a start-up was able to get up and running, and another local business saw booming sales when people began bringing in their coupons. 
Here are the basics of how their library works.
  1. There is a recommended donation for membership. $40/year for general public, and less for students, seniors, and low income individuals.
  2. Waivers, paperwork, all the legal stuff is then signed by you.
  3. Head on in during their hours of operation, view their collections of over 1,500 tools valuing over $50,000.
  4. Rent out whatever you want, keep it for a week, then kindly return it so another friend in your community can borrow it.
  5. But wait! Do you want to learn a new skill? Learn how to use power tools? Make a bar of soap or build a kayak paddle? They have workshops anywhere from 1-3+ times a month where you can learn these things for a small fee. Did you make something? You get to leave with your item! (After all, what are they going to do with 30 kayak paddles?)
  6. There’s more! Got a skill? Want to teach a class, share your knowledge, and engage with your community? Well, you can do that too! 
What we want to inspire.
The idea of people to people share networks is not new, and it is not new in our local community either. We want to both educate and inspire the people in our community. There are so many awesome things going on, it is hard to keep track of them all. We (slowly but surely) want to tell you about all the new, old, and exciting things going on in your neighborhood and the other communities around the Seattle area. Through this education we want you to learn new skills, make new friends, and start new ventures of your own. People all over have been inspired to start tool libraries of their own, and with the help of the West Seattle Tool Library, they can! There is already another library in the Greenwood-Phinney neighborhood, and more neighborhoods are next on the list. 
What can you do?
  1. Attend a workshop with Sustainable Seattle or at the Tool Library.
  2. Donate to Sustainable Seattle or donate to the West Seattle Tool Library. (Sorry, S2 does not accept donations of tools, send those over to the tool library only!)
  3. View their inventory or rent a tool!
  4. Start a Tool Library of your own! Contact Patrick@wstools.org for more information.
  5. Visit the soon-to-be-up-and-running mobile tool library at a local farmers market this summer!
  6. View more photos from our workshop in our Flickrgroup.
  7. Check out some other local share programs:

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