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Tool Library for Every District

Helping individuals and small businesses reduce the cost of maintaining the places in which they live, work, and play. Tool libraries offer hundreds of hand and power tools for landscaping, home repair, and automobile maintenance.

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A pioneering scheme for this concept was founded by Dustin Zuckerman in Santa Rosa, California, in 2005.

The service is completely free, users must register some personal details and review borrowers rules and agreements. Most of the tools have been donated by civically minded citizens, and the Santa Rosa Tools Library is now a registered charity.

A Singaporean version run by the NEA might place a Tool Library in every district, situated in a central hub, close to MRT or Bus terminals. The purpose of this initiative would be to address the lack of storage space for most residents wanting to own a set of power tools, while providing them with the means to make improvements to their homes, gardens and businesses. 

Building on Zuckerman's existing model, the online home of the library could play host to a catalogue of success stories, highlighting how people have already taken advantage of the scheme to enhance their neighbourhoods, and offering videos and tutorials on the use of these tools. 

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

Individuals AND private sector organizations would be able to both contribute to and draw from this government sponsored initiative, in an effort to engender a sense of empowerment and responsibility for one's surroundings. This can be all too lacking in a context where most outdoor space is meticulously maintained by a veritable army of gardeners and maintenance workers. By taking away the burden of ownership for access to power tools, the initiative would be making small, incremental, positive changes to local environments infinitely more possible. There is also the opportunity for private sector organizations to add sponsorship or resources to the scheme. Tools could be donated free of charge, or monthly gatherings could be paid for by sponsors. The draw of these gathering could be simple workshops on different tools and skillsets.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

In addition to allowing members to borrow tools for their own purposes, a mobile incarnation of the Tools Library would host 'muck-in' days (could be sponsored by a coffee brand, drinks provided etc..) when users can come along and put all their tools to use in a common cause for the community.. building a playground for example. Also, it would be hoped that in conjunction with the physical meet ups, the online platform could facilitate the forming of small groups and the exchange of labour; one weekend you might be helping a (new) friend put some shelves up, the next weekend he/she could be helping to paint the ceiling in your living room!

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

Start with a single library in an area with little access to these tools, and build from there. Due to the local nature of borrowing/lending physical goods, scalability would be reliant on the strength of the movement's brand and the prominence of the sponsor brands it partners with.

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