Over the years, Bec Wendt has accumulated a lot of tools.
And for a long time, she has wanted to share them with the community.
"I buy them when I need them and have been trying to make my personal tool shed into a community tool shed," Wendt says.
When she connected with a group cultivating a community garden not long ago, that became a reality.
"I said, 'Take what you need,'" Wendt, 27, says. "I have a tiller and a woodchipper, come over and take what you need."
Sharing her tools with The New Vangarden, a group that is planting a community garden in the Geronimo Estates mobile home park, got her new tool-lending library, Tucson Toolbox, off the ground.
"It's not like any of us had funding to do this or anything," says Alicia Garcia, a member of the group that recently started the community garden. "We just wanted to do something nice for the community ... and be able to move in the direction of taking care of each other and providing mutual aid, but we didn't really have any tools or really any gardening experience ... It has been really helpful not to have to buy tools when we don't have the funds to do that yet."
Tucson Toolbox is a mutual aid program that Wendt foresees as a resource for both tools and the skills needed to use them.
"The idea with Tucson Toolbox is you will have access to both the tools and the knowledge..." Wendt says. "It's to get people interested in the DIY community, interested in fixing things for themselves and others and helping other people, and giving people the tools and ability to do those things."
The tools are free to borrow and so far include large tools such as a tiller, mulcher and table saw and smaller tools such as shovels, drills, trowels and flashlights. Wendt says that right now, Tucson Toolbox is just a shed on her central Tucson property, with users scheduling pickup times.
If you have tools to share, you can either donate them to Tucson Toolbox directly or list your tools and hang on to them until someone needs them. Tucson Toolbox uses the online group chat platform Discord to connect people. Wendt says volunteers with Tucson Toolbox will then facilitate the exchange of contact information and take responsibility for following up to remind people of the return deadline.
Anyone borrowing a tool will be required to share their contact information. And if someone doesn't return a tool, they lose access to the service until the tool is returned. But there are no fees.
Wendt says she researched similar tool-lending programs in other communities and found that forgetting to return tools is a bigger issue than people outright stealing them.
Still, "there is always the danger that your tools will go missing," she says.
Right now, people can rent several tools at a time, with the rental time determined by how in-demand each tool is. Around 20 people are members of the Discord group right now, Wendt says.
There is also an option for people to request and offer aid on the Discord server, for example, if you need help fixing your water heater or have another specific problem.
"The expectation with mutual aid is if you want it, take it," Wendt says. "There is never going to be any class limit, and you don't have to prove your income level, none of that. The important thing is getting the community set up so people feel comfortable taking these services and using these services."