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Tools for Expanding Community

January 19, 2023
Devon Border

An Intro to the New Center for Humanitarian Engagement Initiative, the Walla Walla Tool Library

Devon Border

The Walla Walla Tool Library — a new and upcoming initiative kickstarted by David Lopez, the founding executive director for the Center for Humanitarian Engagement, and Megan Lersbak, a senior business major and project specialist for the CHE. It is a new program that will allow students and community members to borrow various tools, attend workshops on proper tool use, and participate in repair bees.  

The Tool Library grew out of the CHE’s Hey Neighbor Neighbor project, a program whose central goal is to “provide [community members] with the means to grow in relationship with [their] neighbors and to watch [their] community thrive.” [1] Lopez mentioned that when he was thinking of ways to expand upon Hey Neighbor Neighbor’s vision, he thought there were many “tools we’ve acquired from doing Service Days. Those happen twice a year — what about the other days of the year?” [2] 

The Tool Library is hosted primarily out of a trailer that the CHE acquired from the Upper Columbia Conference. The trailer was originally designated for the Conference to use for disaster response, but it long went unused. When Lopez requested to use it for the CHE’s new Tool Library initiative, the conference agreed, but with one caveat — in the event of disaster in the community or abroad, the trailer and tools therein would be used to respond accordingly. This has already been put into practice — when a hailstorm hit Wallowa, Washington, shattering windows and damaging property, the tools were utilized there for cleanup. 

The Tool Library now includes over 100 tools and only continues to grow. In their stock, they have tools needed for lawn care and car washing, in addition to other miscellaneous and specialty tools, such as tile cutters, pressure washers, augers, AC units, and much more. Over time, they even acquired items necessary for a party, including speakers, projectors, and even a cotton candy machine. Lopez stated that their stock doesn’t just have “tools to go repair your house, but [also] tools that you need to form a stronger community.” [3] 

When the Tool Library is fully launched — which both Lopez and Lersbak hope will happen this term — these tools can be checked out for week-long loaning periods through their website, https://heynn.myturn.com/library/inventory/browse. These loans can be scheduled out in advance, and their system allows you to easily see if items are in or out of stock.  

In addition to tool loaning, the Tool Library is planning on hosting workshops on how to do different tasks. The workshops will be run by community experts to help make using the various tools in their stock accessible. Lopez hopes that this will become an avenue through which community members can teach students and “pass down [their] generational knowledge” to them. [4] 

They also are planning on hosting occasional repair work bees, where people can either bring their own broken tools and get them fixed, or they can help to repair the tools in the Tool Library.  

Lopez and Lersbak both hope that the Tool Library will help to “promote equity among neighbors so that they can have access to tools” that they need and may not be able to afford, as well as reduce environmental waste by providing access to tools that are often bought and rarely used. [5]  

 

References 

  1. Hey Neighbor Neighbor. (n.d.). Neighbors Walla Walla. https://heynn.com/  
  2. Interview with David Lopez and Megan Lersbak, 1/6/23. 

3-5. Ibid. 

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