The Shed Tool Library and Makerspace Co-op.




In the 1980s, I was living in a subdivision in the suburbs just north of Toronto. On any given Saturday afternoon if you were to drive through my neighbourhood you were bound to see garage doors open with their occupants wrenching on cars, tinkering with electronics, or maybe building a birdhouse. If you needed a drill and some glue to fix a broken chair and didn’t have have either of those things, you’d walk next door and borrow them from your neighbour. Broke your rake while doing your fall clean up? The couple across the road would lend you theirs.

The idea of communities sharing resources is nothing new, but as population density grows, and the cost of living rises, the notion of everyone having a garage full of tools and equipment is seen as a luxury. The Internet teems with a multitude of websites dedicated to the DIY community: Ikea hacks, hacks for moms and dad, organizational hacks. Low cost, creative ideas with the goal of streamlining your already chaotic life. But if I only had a hammer…

Enter Joe Julien and Julan Chersinoff. Joe is a self professed ‘tool nut’ with a propensity for collecting antique tools that are as effective now as they were 100 years ago. Julan is a maker who asked the question in a Craigslist ad, “What if there was a tool library in town? A place in the Valley that loaned out tools, knowledge, and space to allow a community to build, create, and repair even if they didn’t have a garage or shed full of tools?” The two met in the fall of 2014 as a result of that post and a little less than a year later The Shed Tool Library & Makerspace Co-op was incorporated.
The Shed’s mission is to grow a cooperative community with a common goal to share tools, skills, and workspace in the Comox Valley. Not only will The Shed provide its members with a library of tools, it links the do-it-yourselfer to professionals with the knowledge needed to build a doghouse or fix a bike. This spring, they are planning and creating the first of many, one-day “Repair Cafés.” The goal of these events is for members of the community to bring down their broken and damaged items and connect them with fixers who will educate and facilitate the necessary repairs.

The Shed’s current tool library is curated by Joe and run out of his own shed for the time being. Their objective for this summer is to have a mobile tool library. In time, The Shed is hoping to raise enough funds through sponsorship and community partnerships to grow into a permanent Makerspace, complete with stationary tools and equipment, and a community of professionals that can be booked and utilised on an as needed basis by its members.

There is a certain satisfaction in making something purposeful with your own two hands. My dad once lamented that when he tied a trout fly and then caught a fish with that same fly, he conjured that moment. These two entrepreneurs are building a cooperative space that will allow a community, who may well have never had the chance, to turn their ideas into something tangible. And that sounds momentous.

You can find the The Shed Tool Library & Makerspace Co-op on Facebook.