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Saying Farewell to a Giant: Reflecting on Jacque Fresco

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Tool Blog |

  Jacque Fresco – American futurist and self-described social engineer – was an important inspiration to many of us involved in the Toronto Tool Library (he once visited us at our first communal living house in Toronto just prior to launching the tool library). On May 18th 2017, Jacque passed away at the age of 101.     Jacque was well known for his work with the Venus Project in Florida, his home and research centre for the exploration of how one might go about designing and engineering a world that no longer relies on money as a medium of exchange. According to this train of thought, many of the social ills of our time – poverty, hunger, war, environmental destruction, greed, selfishness, etc – are actually built right into the nature of our current economic model. Inequality, injustice and the unfair distribution of resources are symptoms of the current operating system on our planet and so long as we continue to treat the symptoms, the disease that causes them will remain. A system which pits human against human to fight over what are supposedly scarce resources brings out the worst in human nature.     What if we could design a world that brought out the best in human nature? What if we finally acknowledged that resources are not scarce – there really is enough to go around – and began building a world that reflected this reality? What if we began making things to last rather than to break down just so a corporation can turn the highest profit? What would the world look like if we were raised to collaborate with one another, rather than competing for grades, houses and top spots at the board room table? What if equality and human rights were built into the very fabric of existence?     Jacque’s book The Best That Money Can’t Buy, as well as his ideas about shifting the world towards a Resource-Based Economic model, were important inspirations for us when we decided to launch the first tool lending library in Toronto (the non-profit behind the Toronto Tool Library is called an Institute For A Resource-Based Economy). We were introduced to Jacque’s work via the Zeitgeist Film Series – most notably Zeitgeist Moving Forward – and wanted to find a concrete and useful way to communicate some of these ideas with people without hitting them over the head with them. What better way to help people understand the notion that things we need can (and perhaps a better word is should) be detached from money than through a resource sharing library? We are already so familiar with the concept of sharing books, why not extend it to...

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Tool Libraries: Spirit of a Global Movement

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

DIY and repurposing culture has exploded in recent years, fuelled by open-source websites such as Intructables and Thingiverse where people share knowledge and how-to guides on how to make everything – from crafting your own bunk bed (this one was made by one of our members!) to making a wallet out of a juice carton to 3D Printing your own fidget spinner. Online marketplaces such as Etsy and Instagram have even allowed some makers and crafters to take their DIY to the next level, fully supporting themselves on the income they generate from things they make. Tool Libraries are a rapidly emerging and important branch of this DIY culture, enabling folks who could not otherwise afford the expensive tools needed for these projects to access them at a low cost annual membership fee. Unsurprisingly, tool library locations are popping up across the globe – particularly here in North America. Opening its doors in 1979, the Berkley Tool Library has been a leader in this movement with the Bay Area now boasting over five different locations. In 2011, the Vancouver Tool Library sparked the trend in Canada, with the Toronto Tool Library fanning the flames shortly after by launching in 2013 and since expanding into four locations, some including additional resources such as Maker Spaces, Sharing Depots and Repair Cafes. After Toronto’s launch, the idea spread like wildfire: there are now tool libraries in Victoria, Calgary, Sudbury, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Halifax, just to name a few. The movement has become so popular that from June 9-11th, The Toronto Tool Library will be hosting lending libraries from all over the world for the 2nd Annual Lending Library Symposium. This conference has been designed to help librarians build their platforms through workshops covering volunteer engagement, governance models, expansion strategies and more – but anyone interested in the Alternative Library Movement is welcome to join us and mingle with thought-leaders: Register: Lending Library Symposium For some members, a Tool Library is simply a convenient means to access tools for projects around the home. But for others, (and certainly for the board that governs the Toronto Tool Library, called the Institute for a Resource Based Economy) these spaces are representative of a larger value system that stems from a long history. Concepts of lending and sharing have been shaped by communities that value reciprocity and the commons, who understand humans as only a small part of a larger system. These communities do not distinguish between economic growth and the impact it might have on our social and ecosystem health, but rather, they recognize that human wellbeing (and survival) is intrinsically dependent on how we protect the health of those systems. These relationships have forever been fundamental to many Indigenous communities, as scholars such as Winonah Laduke,...

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10 Easy Upcycling Projects For Kids

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

TTL Kids! happily situates itself in The Maker Movement, which can be broadly defined as a collective of people around the world who are employing do-it-yourself or do-it-with-others techniques to develop unique products and devices. Tinkering, coding, building, creating and innovating – together. This movement rests on makers making their designs open-source and available for anyone to reproduce off Internet sites such as Instructables or Thingiverse. We believe  that getting kids involved in areas that teach the skills and thought processes most likely to be in demand by future job markets is incredibly important. See Our Maker Education Programs But more than introducing Young Makers to the latest craze in Lego Bot building or DIY Fidget Spinners, we’re interested in getting Young Makers to think differently. We want to demystify how things work. We want our Young Makers to consider the potential of things, to make what hasn’t yet been made. One way to do this is to reuse and repurpose. We like to think of reclaiming and repurposing not as interchangeable verbs but as one leading to the other. Our instructors encourage Young Makers to reclaim items – to take items back – from the landfills, from our storage bins of forgotten things, from our junk drawers, and to repurpose them. We want them to rethink what these items can do, what they might be good for, and then give them new purpose, new life. Dustpans and wooden spoons become bot bodies, old circuit boards become lampshades, random washers and fasteners become switches. When we allow our imagination to start seeing the potential in things, we reconsider the purpose of things and we keep our minds flexible. And then maybe, when it’s time to go buy a new, whatever, we use what we have and make it ourselves instead. Here are a few great upcycling projects to bring that out-side-the-box thinking into the home: *** 1) Spool Knitter Spool knitting is something all kids enjoy – but why go out and buy the spool when kids can make their own out of old popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls and elastic bands? You can go even more minimal than that by using an old thread spool and some nails.   2) Weaving Loom Old CDs combined with some leftover yarn or yarn from a thrift store can be transformed into the perfect upcycled weaving frame!   3) Wind Chimes Save up those tins cans, find an old someone’s throwing away and you’ve got yourself a project!   4) E-jewelry Electronic e-waste is increasingly becoming a serious problem in the Western world as we continually upgrade our phones, computers and other devices on a regular basis. But, there’s no reason some of that e-waste can’t be repurposed! Over the years of...

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May Is Membership Month

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

For the whole month of May, with the purchase of a membership to the Toronto Tool Library OR The Sharing Depot we’re giving away one month FREE to: New Members Members who bring in a New Member Become A Member! If you purchase a membership online: when you come in to borrow an item or pick up your card, you can mention to the Tool Librarian that you participated in the offer and they will ensure the extra month is added to your account. What are the benefits of becoming a member?   Save Money By paying an annual membership fee that starts at $50/year to access over 5,000+ tools – you will be saving yourself from spending hundreds of dollars or more on tools that will end up sitting in your basement, closet or garage.   Save The Environment By borrowing tools from a tool library, we are cutting back on the waste and inefficiency that comes with purchasing to own. Why should every house in a neighbourhood have a drill sitting in the basement or garage when the average drill is used for just 14 minutes in its usable lifespan? The Tool Library also has a team of volunteer ‘Fixperts’ who join us every week to maintain and repair tools as needed to keep them out of the landfill and in circulation for as long as possible.   Save Space Physical clutter leads to a loss of time and money – time spent searching for things you were certain you had somewhere and money invested into new things you can’t find because they are buried at the back of a closet or forgotten in a storage unit. One of the best parts about borrowing from a lending library is that you don’t need to worry about storing the item in your home – you simply return it to the community hub for someone else to use.   Support Your Community Not everyone can afford to purchase tools. Not everyone can afford to learn how to use tools. By becoming a member of a tool library in your community, you are allowing others to access resources they otherwise would not be able to. An affordable membership rate and free or low cost DIY workshops give everyone an opportunity to participate in making and building what they need. Your membership fees allow these spaces to exist and therefore lift communities up by making access to resources a more level playing field. Read more about the benefits of Tool Libraries...

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Good Healthy Food For All

Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

The Toronto Tool Library and Sharing Depot are extremely excited to be partnering with FoodShare Toronto as a pick-up location for their Good Food Box Program! What is the Good Food Box Program? FoodShare’s Good Food Box is a subsidized fresh produce distribution program. FoodShare’s distribution of fresh produce started 15 years ago as a way to create linkages between field and table. The goal was to increase the income of farmers, at the same time making affordable produce more accessible to Toronto communities and, particularly prioritizing low income people. Find more information about the project online here. This is the easier, cheaper way to access local, seasonal produce in Toronto. How Does It Work? Step 1: Select which food box you would like to order. You can see what’s inside the different boxes by clicking here. Step 2: Contact Jonathan at jisaac.jonathan@gmail.com to place your order. Step 3: Your box will be delivered to 1803 Danforth Ave, Toronto Tool Library/Sharing Depot. Delivery days are the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Pick up your box and enjoy! Step 4: Repeat steps 1 through 3! Order A Good Food Box! Find out more about the Good Food Box program by reading their online flyer. To order your box, contact Jonathan at jisaac.jonathan@gmail.com  Why order a Good Food Box? There are so many reasons, but we will break it down to our Top 3:   1) You Save Money The Good Food Program acts like a large buying club purchasing large quantities of produce from farmers and the Ontario Food Terminal at affordable rates. They are able to do this because all the boxes are pre-ordered and each type of box contains the same contents. Like our organization, volunteers who give their time help to keep rates down for you. Over 15 volunteers come to FoodShare’s warehouse every week to pack up to 1500 boxes. FoodShare also subsidizes the cost of the staff, warehouse rent and delivery costs by accepting generous donations and grants from the public, governments and foundations. The value of the $18 box at a regular supermarket often ranges between $25 and $27, depending on the store and the time of year.   2) You Support Local Family Farms A healthy farm economy helps to boost the urban economy and helps ensure we have access to affordable, local produce. By building relationships with local farmers we keep box prices low while paying hardworking farmers a fair price.   3) You Support the Environment Eating local food that is in season is more environmentally friendly: Imported food travels on average 2,500 km before it reaches our homes. That is roughly the distance between Toronto and Regina, for perspective. In general, the international agricultural process is responsible for 44% to 57% of global...

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Inside The Fight For Repair – And What We Can Do To Help

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Slider Home Posts, Tool Blog |

At one time, when you bought a product, you owned it and could do with it as you wanted. You could perform your own maintenance, make upgrades and experiment with making upgrades. Entire industries grew up around this concept, particularly in performance cars. You could tinker on your car in the garage to squeeze another few horsepower out of it, or change it’s efficiency, or remodel the body to fit your aesthetic pleasures. Today, it is a far murkier issue. Many companies, particularly tech companies argue that only the manufacturer has the right to repair or change the product. The consumer is merely a licence holder, not an owner. You are leasing your cell phone, no matter how much you paid for it. Your car is as much computer as machine, and the software is a protected operating system – closed to tinkering.   Companies take one of two standpoints in defending their stance on this: liability and intellectual property rights.   In the first, companies try to protect themselves from users suing them over malfunctions or improper use. The US in particular is a very litigious society, meaning that there are safety labels on just about everything: chainsaws to warn you they are sharp, coffee to tell that it’s hot and toasters to let you know you shouldn’t make toast underwater (um, duh?). Apple doesn’t want you to repair your phone because you might make a mistake and cause your lithium battery to catch fire. John Deere doesn’t want you fixing your combine because you could do something that would injure you or your “significant investment” in it’s equipment. The intellectual property rights issue is a far harder argument. Software – by not being a physical item – means it’s covered by copyright laws, which grant significant rights to the rights holder. Just like you can’t rewrite parts of your favourite novel to suit your tastes, you can’t edit proprietary software, or break encryptions to do so. The same DRM laws that prevent you copying or editing DVDs and Blue Rays also protect the software that regulates the engine in your car, your tractor.   So where does that leave us, the users?   One answer is to abandon technology in favour of older forms, but that’s a foolish argument. That computer in your car regulates oxygen consumption and prevents producing even more harmful emissions while simultaneously increasing mileage and efficiency. Think of the cars of the 60s and 70s and then think of cars today. Significantly improved. Cellphones give me instantaneous access to a worldwide communications network that lets me learn about NASA’s Mars missions, research medicine, talk to my friend in the UK, my brother in Alberta,...

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