Forming a Community Tool Co-Op

Pool your resources with neighbors and form a community tool co-op that ensure more people have access to tools they need without a massive overhead.

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    The EcoVillage at Ithaca provides garden and workshop tools for community members to share.
    Joe Nolan
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    Dave Wortman writes from his home in Seattle, where he is a long-time member of the Well Home Program.
    Joe Nolan
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    Courtesy Atlanta Community Tool Bank
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    Even with all of the benefits of tool-sharing programs, they are not without their challenges. From housing cooperatives to larger public programs like Atlanta's, many common problems arise. They range from a lack of organization to funding shortages to tool maintenance.
    Photo courtesy Fotolia/bst2012

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  • Tool-Sharing

There's nothing like having just the right tools to help make your projects go smoothly. But, tools can be a big investment for homeowners. When money is tight, tool costs can make or break a project. And often, we only need that 20-foot ladder once a year to clean the gutters. Many table saws sit idle in the garage for months at a time.

Some neighborhoods and communities across the country have discovered a better way — tool sharing. It's an idea that's alive and well, from small housing cooperatives in rural areas to lending programs in large cities. And many people are finding that, in addition to making economic sense, tool sharing offers a way to simplify life and create community, pulling together neighbors to exchange ideas, skills and a helping hand.

The Roots of Tool Sharing

Many of today's thriving tool-sharing programs grew out of the cooperative movement of the 1970s, which spawned a proliferation of co-ops, from food to housing and energy. Tool-sharing promotes many cooperative core values: self-help, self-responsibility, equality and solidarity.

Today's tool-sharing and lending programs range from small, informal arrangements among neighbors to large operations supporting thousands of community volunteers. They include tools for carpentry, landscaping, woodworking and car repair, and are housed in homes, community wood shops, libraries, neighborhood centers and even warehouses. And you'll find the programs supporting all walks of life, from single working mothers to farmers living off the land.

Roger Faris knows the economic value of tool-sharing programs well. He's spent the last 25 years running Seattle's Well Home Program, which includes a tool bank. The program began in the wake of devastating impacts on the city from Boeing layoffs in the early 1970s.

1/27/2014 5:15:00 AM

Teamwork is one of the most important aspects of the modern workplace. There are many benefits and uses of tool sharing program. Through which all the workers mechanics can share their tools and works in a simple and efficient way. This is for the online collaboration tool program. It has many benefits like it is easy to keep track of projects, documents are all stored in a single place , actions are done quickly etc.

2/5/2008 2:26:33 AM

Sure. Sharing is not easy in hyper-individualistic societies like ours, so it needs to be organised very well. Thanks for the article! I am spreading the info in Europe where we need that kind of advise too ;-) Matthieu Lietaert Director of DVD "Voices of Cohousing. Rebuilding villages in the City". Award winner at 34th Ekotopfilm festival 2007

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