Can Boston Be a World-Class City Without a Tool Bank?

Cities around the country are reaping the benefits of tool banks, where residents or non-profits can borrow tools for low cost. But Boston isn't one of those cities.

A recent post on the Atlantic Cities blog touted the power of tool banks: places where costly tools can be loaned out at low cost.

Picture a massive shed stocked with shovels, rakes, power tools, wheelbarrows, ladders, water hoses, work gloves—even a tiller and a generator. Since opening last year, Charlotte’s ToolBank has equipped more than 11,000 volunteers at 500 different projects, lending tools with a combined retail value of $243,000 for only $7,200. It now provides 134 nonprofit agencies with tools.

That's in Charlotte, people of Boston. I'm a proud North Carolinian, but when you're talking urban innovations, I'd like to think Boston has a step up on the Queen City. The Boston area doesn't have any tool banks, according to Deb Beatty Mel of Boston Building Resources, which does rent or lend a small number of specialized tools to its members. (By the way, Boston Building Resources is a great place for getting help and materials for your home projects. It's located right on the Roxbury/JP line.)

Getting back to tool banks — the exact structure depends on the bank. In some, there's a membership fee. Others have a cost per tool that's a fraction of what you'd pay to own it yourself. Berkeley, Calif. — one of the first cities to start a tool bank — runs theirs through the public library.

The list of other cities that have embraced the tool bank model includes:

So c'mon Boston. Step up.

Deb Beatty Mel August 01, 2012 at 06:57 PM
There's a webinar coming up on how to start one: August 9, 2-3 p.m. http://www.newdream.org/blog/webinar-start-a-tool-library
Chris Helms August 01, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Thanks, Deb!
Dewey August 03, 2012 at 05:38 PM
We'd rented an insulation blower from Boston Building Resources when residing our house (DIY FTW). Those folks are a great resource. I'd certainly become a member if one started up in our neck of the woods (it would mean fewer trips to the HD at South Bay for sure).


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