We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without partnerships! Here’s a look at one of them.
From a handful of members and a few dozen tools, the Tool Library now has over 1,100 members and an inventory of over 3,000 tools. From a graduate student founding a rag tag all-volunteer organization to the President of the Board of Directors of an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, Darren Cotton discovered his love for community organizing, neighborhood development, and the power people have to transform their community with nothing more than sweat equity and sheer determination. Members of the Tool Library can borrow what they need when they need it, saving time, money, and space (and even the planet) in the process.
Beyond just a brick and mortar shop where people can borrow tools, the Tool Library has also become a launch pad for numerous community initiatives. One of their first projects working with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood was ReTree the District which began in 2014 as urban reforestation project with the goal of planting 1,000 trees. Thanks to the help of more than a thousand volunteers, the Tool Library, BPN, and over a dozen community partners hit that goal within two years, but just kept on planting! The total tree tally is now close to 1,300 with no end in sight.
The Tool Library worked closely with Westminster Community Charter School on Bailey Fights Blight, a project whose mission is to improve public spaces and re-imagine vacant or underutilized properties on Bailey Avenue through community cleanups, guerilla gardening, and public art. Through numerous afterschool sessions working with Mr. Panek and a handful of his middle school students, Darren, artists Chris Kameck and Nick Miller helped students design and paint two large scale murals at a major intersection on Bailey Avenue and just a few hundred feet from their school’s front door. The murals, titled “The Dreamer” and “The Protector” are now part of the neighborhood landscape showing students they can play a pivotal role in transforming their communities. From blank walls passed by every day, to canvases for public art that send a message to the rest of the world that “we have this, it’s ours and we are proud to be here”, the Tool Library’s mission is rooted in the idea that if you can dream it, you can do it… you just need the right tools!
The Tool Library looks forward to continuing to provide those tools to BPN staff, students, teachers, parents, and community members to help them create the change they want to see in their neighborhood.