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Beyond Repair

A green card with Repair Cafe title and light bulb with a spanner

Presented by the Guelph Tool Library, this event is for tool libraries, repair cafes, and anyone interested in the Right to Repair movement.

Inspired by the Right to Repair movement the Guelph Tool Library has created a conference to assist people and organizations as they advocate for the circular economy. If you are interested in attending, the conference is taking place on Saturday, Sep 11th from 11 to 1 pm. Tickets are free, but pre-registration is required. Register on Eventbrite.

Keynote Speaker:

MP Bryan May – The Right To Repair Bill

A keynote address on how the Right to Repair movement impacts all Canadians will be delivered by Bryan May, MP from Cambridge and the sponsor of the current Right to Repair Bill in the second reading at Parliament.

After the keynote, there will be workshops made specifically designed for tool libraries and repair cafes. These workshops range in topics from evolving a tool library to secrets of grant writing and fundraising.

Workshops and Presenters:

Starting and Growing a Tool Library – Brent Harris of St John Tool Library

Meet Brent Harris; Brent will be speaking on starting/maintaining a tool library as a social enterprise with multiple revenue streams. Find out how the Saint John’s Tool Library has managed to thrive with a small membership base and nearly zero outside funding.

More about Brent: Brent Harris is the founder and current director of the Saint John Tool Library (SJTL) in Saint John, New Brunswick. He and a group of residents began their journey to establish a tool Library in Canada’s oldest city In 2018. Due to a lack of available funding to support their tool library as a non-profit, the group opted to start the tool Library as a social enterprise by developing a business plan that they could leverage for startup money. To date, this has won them multiple awards, and they continue to make a big impact on their community. 

Brent lives in Saint John with his wife Cassie and 3 children. He was also recently elected to serve as a city councillor in Saint John. 

Engaging Communities in the Right to Repair – Creating engaging and accessible Repair Cafés

Repair Café International brings people of different ages and backgrounds to come together for fixing things. Diversity promotes creativity and learning. In particular, youth volunteers play an important role in making the events accessible and appealing to the young generation. Wai Chu Cheng, co-founder of Repair Café Toronto, will talk about what Repair Café Toronto has been doing to attract youth volunteers.

The COVID pandemic made running Repair Cafés, which are large social in-person gatherings, difficult for many organizations around the world. Repair Café organizers got creative and managed to keep things going through outdoor events, virtual sessions, etc. Saba Saneinejad, co-founder of Repair Café Guelph, will talk about how they managed to keep Repair alive in the community during the pandemic and what they have learned from virtual events that can add benefit to the educational aspect of Repair Cafés in the future. 

About the speakers: 

A green community builder, social entrepreneur, and environmental educator, Wai Chu Cheng has been named by Canadian Living as one of its “10 Amazing Canadians Making the World a Cleaner, Greener Place”. Wai Chu has co-founded the longest-running Repair Café in Canada and has been mentoring other organizations to start their own Repair Café. As the Sustainability Coordinator at Sheridan College, Wai Chu’s work has been focusing on bringing about culture change toward sustainability and waste reduction across the college’s three campuses in the Greater Toronto Area. Wai Chu has established the Mission Zero volunteer team and Green Team who are helping to grow the repair movement within and beyond the campus community.

Saba Saneinejad co-founder of the Guelph Tool Library in 2016 and shortly after started Repair Café Guelph after getting inspired by the great work of Repair Café Toronto. Saba is passionate about sustainable living, sharing economy and community building. Since 2016, Repair Café Guelph has been the leader of the repair movement in Guelph and has diverted 5500 lbs of waste from the landfill. 

Anything is Possible and Everyone is Welcome – Building a Makerspace at Guelph Public Library

Public libraries are moving away from being places where you just consume content to places where you create it. The opportunity to have a creative experience is powerful and digital inclusion is key to a thriving community. Learn from the Guelph Public Library about their experience setting up a public maker space and what kind of changes they see coming for other public libraries across Canada.

Join Michelle Campbell, Manager of Public Service at Guelph Public Library, to hear about the new Makerspace at the Westminster Square Branch and the aims and scope of these public maker spaces in the future.

More about the speaker: Michelle Campbell is the Manager of Public Service at Guelph Public Library. She was previously the Branch Supervisor at the Westminster Square Branch Library where the Makerspace is located. Michelle also worked for many years at Upper Grand District School Board where she was leading the charge to transform school libraries into learning commons and maker spaces.

Collaborative Grant-Making for Not-For-Profits – Add To Your Toolkit

10C, a Guelph-based social enterprise, focuses on building platforms (physical, social and financial) for community members working for social change. Reflecting on a track record of successful project grants that are rooted in collaboration, 10C will overview its concept development and grant-writing processes.

You will leave with a template that can help structure your process, develop new project ideas, and create methods to collaborate with other organizations. 

Beyond Repair: A Virtual Conference will be held on Saturday, Sep 11th from 11 to 1 pm. Tickets are free, but pre-registration is required. Register on Eventbrite.

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Right to Repair

Woman with FIXED sign

The Guelph Tool Library is lobbying for a new federal bill (Bill C-272) that would allow owners of technology the Right to Repair.  They are also rallying other Canadian Tool Libraries and Repair Cafes to lobby their MPs to support the bill as well.

The Guelph Tool Library is showing its support for Federal Bill C-272, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance or repair).  John Dennis, the Chair of the Board for the Guelph Tool, says that “we have spoken a number of times with Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield and his office staff about this issue.  MP Longfield has even volunteered as a Fixer at our Repairs Cafes so knows the importance of being able to repair consumer items and the impact that it can have on individuals”.

At issue is the concept of ownership and what rights consumers have over the products they buy.  Increasingly, manufacturers have made it difficult to repair broken items.  Even simple repairs such as battery replacement are limited by the availability of parts or by manufacturers putting prohibitions on who gets to repair the items.  It affects many consumer products including game consoles, farm equipment, cellphones, appliances, automobiles, and computers. 

The Right to Repair movement helps every consumer by eliminating the cost of replacing an item.  The Right to Repair movement also creates local jobs.  There are millions of devices manufactured daily and if the Right to Repair legislation passes, there will be opportunities for more repair jobs created.  Finally, we’re surpassing 50 million metric tons of e-waste globally this year.  Repairing electronics gets them back into the hands of people who can use them—and keeps them out of landfills.  

The Guelph Tool Library not only advocates for this bill locally but has reached out to over 30 other Tool Libraries and Repair Cafes across Canada.  The goal is to have these organizations speak to their local MPs and start a grassroots movement to support the passing of Bill C-272. This will culminate with an online forum later this summer for all Tool Libraries and Repair Cafes across Canada to come together and talk about the importance of repairing. 

A previous effort, Ontario MPP Michael Coteau’s Right to Repair Bill, was voted down in the provincial legislature in May 2019. It was the first time this type of legislation was introduced in Canada. Similar legislation has been passed in Europe and several US States but often it is a battle as manufactures will lobby against its introduction.  

John Dennis, commented that “The Guelph Tool Library and the Repair Cafe Guelph are proud to be part of the movement to protect repair rights and the definition of ownership in the 21st century.  We are encouraging other like-minded organizations across Canada to support this effort.”

##  Background Information ##

The Guelph Tool Library and the Repair Cafe Guelph were established in 2016.  

The Guelph Tool Library has run Repair Cafes since August of 2016 and has been a leader for repairs in Guelph.  With the help of a group of approximately 20 volunteers, 70-80% of the items brought in get fixed. To date, 5500 lbs of waste or the volume of about 4 dump trucks have been diverted from landfill. 

For more information on the Guelph Tool Library and the right to repair, please email Michaela Rye at

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GTL – Rebuilding Together – 2020 Membership Drive

Circle image with GTL Rebuilding Together wording

GTL Reuilding Together

A World Where Communities Find Joy In Sharing

In the last four years, the Guelph Tool Library has gone from a small, grassroots working group run by a few volunteers, to an incorporated not-for-profit with over 1000 tools, kits and appliances available for borrow. We have over 500 members, and we have processed almost 9,000 loans. The GTL has always strived to keep memberships and workshops affordably priced so that anyone in Guelph and the surrounding area are able to join without financial barriers.

In 2020, our organization saw a lot of challenges and changes, just like everyone else. We lost access to our space in Tytler Public school, we repaired and replaced some highly sought-after specialty tools and we’ve had some increased operating costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now as we regain our footing and adapt operations to suit ever-changing needs and safety standards, we’ll be increasing our membership rates to ensure we can continue to provide well-maintained tools and exceptional programming. Starting Monday, November 16th, the base price for membership through our website and in-person will increase to $60 for the year.


Lending is the new Spending

Through our Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign, we’re offering last-chance pricing for a limited time only. Memberships will be available starting at just $40, and we’ve also got a variety of packages and sponsorship options available, like “The Bee’s Knees”, which includes membership and a set of handmade beeswax wraps. Or, the “stylish supporter” includes membership and a GTL t-shirt. If you’d like to help subsidize membership for someone in the community, check out our “Lend a Wing” option, which provides membership for you, and a second membership is gifted to an individual in our community facing financial barriers. For those looking to offer more financial support, check out options like “Make The Call” in support of our cell phone recycling program, “Work It Out”, which supports our workshop series, and “The Big Ticket”, which allows us to purchase high-end specialty tools.

Please shareGot a moment to spare? Please share!

Visit our Indiegogo page to check out the details for each pricing tier. This campaign runs until Sunday, December 13th, and quantities for each tier are limited, so don’t delay! Be sure to share this campaign with your family and friends! Be sure to follow us on social media for campaign updates, workshop announcements, and more!


Twitter: @gtoollibrary

Instagram: @gtoollibrary

Facebook: Guelph Tool Library

YouTube: Guelph Tool Library

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V. Adam Kasper, Reconciliation, and the Russian Mafia

An illustrated crow and nest with lime background

(listen here)

Hi! Welcome!

If you’re reading this, thanks for poppin’ by. It’s been a few weeks since I released an episode. I’m still figuring out the ropes here, pretty much every aspect of this podcast is new to me, and I can be a slow learner. Thank you for your patience.

A lot has happened since our last episode. George Floyd was murdered by police, and every day since then, cities in the United States and all over the world have been holding protests in his name. Shortly before this episode was recorded (on June 10th) my own city of Guelph held a solidarity march for Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, I don’t see my city engaging openly in the process of reconciliation. Though we’ve made our desires known, called for defunding at a local level, for officers on the force with strikes on their records to step down, for our city to host an open town hall so we can speak formally on our beliefs. None of those things have happened yet.

I know this podcast is listened to mostly at a local level. We don’t talk about what’s going on in Guelph, but my hope is that my Guelph listeners will listen to this and be maybe a little inspired to become more involved in reconciliation, education and sustainability on a local, national and international scale. No matter how light or heavy the weight, it’s easier to lift with more hands.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the Russian mafia, please listen in.

Like always, the views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the values of the Guelph Tool Library.

Donate to your local BLACKLIVESMATTER chapter, or organization supporting black Canadians

The Rainforest Alliance

The International Ecotourism Society

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Image scaled

When COVID-19 hit in early March, the Guelph Tool Library understood that our entire model of community support was, essentially, for the birds. Operating out of a school board-owned location, we had less than a week to prepare for our enforced closure. With no street entrance and with schools remaining closed into the fall, when we can resume our old ways, if ever, is open to interpretation. As with everything, COVID-19 has made us feel uncomfortable and anxious for what the future holds. But, if you had thought that this (admittedly large) road block would stop the GTL from spreading its mission of sharing, growing, and supporting, you would be mistaken.

We knew things were going to be uncertain and ever changing, and that whatever we did would need to start quickly and be adaptable. As guidelines on physical distancing and safety protocols evolved by the hour, we tried to evolve with it. With about two days’ notice from when closures were announced to when they went into effect, we took to the internet. Instead of finding us on the top floor of Tytler Public School, you can now find us hosting workshops, seminars, and podcasts almost every night of the week. On Mondays, Workshop Coordinator Steph Clarke hosts community craft nights over Zoom. From 6-9pm, drop in to ask sewing or crafting questions, get inspiration, or just socialize with those outside your approved dwelling of under 5 people! On Wednesdays, head to the Backyard Caring project’s Instagram to see Meredith Sweeney, BYC Coordinator, give instructions on the best methods for backyard gardening. On Thursday nights, Steph returns to chat with volunteer fixers over Instagram live on maintenance and repair of household items like cast irons, zippers, sewing machines, and drywall. On Fridays, our new podcast, The Crow’s Nest comes out.

Thirza Logo2 01
The Crow’s Nest. GTL’s new podcast series with host Thirza Armstrong. Image credit: Beth Bray

The Crow’s Nest is the GTL’s answer to the enforced shift in our expression of community. The days of running into someone with a story to tell are on hold. We can no longer strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop about an overheard shared interest. There’s no chance of insight into the lives of our neighbours, no opportunity to lend support. We understand that a vital sphere of interaction may be missing from the lives of most people who are stuck at home. Our goal is to make reconnecting with that missing piece as easy as possible.

Outside of connection and entertainment, the goal of the podcast is to act as a database of stories, memories, experiences, and ideas. Thirza Armstrong, host and GTL Operations Coordinator, talks with guests about Coronavirus, their personal lives and projects, the issues affecting the community right now and what we can do to help, local history, and more. The current overarching theme is COVID-19 and its effects on people’s lives and industries, as well as the positive interactions and community rallying that has come out during the pandemic.

The Crow’s Nest, along with all of the GTL’s online programming, is designed to help bridge this gap in community interaction in whatever way is needed. We’re here to be here for you, so don’t be a stranger! Check out our social media to find out more, or get involved.

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The Crow’s Nest #4: The Farm and the Friends of That Farm

Thirza Logo

Buckle up folks, it’s story time!

Today we’re talking about power.

Lukewarm take: universities have a power dynamic that’s upheld at the expense of their students. During my time in university, it seemed like the student body was constantly fighting for something. Fighting cuts to funding, fighting for divestment, fighting for mental health services, fighting for support for one on campus injustice or another. You couldn’t walk from the Mackinnon building to the University Centre without being asked to participate in rectifying one injustice or another. It always made me wonder, Why are there so many injustices happening on a university campus? Then I actually attended university for a few years and realized why: everybody here is directly profiting off the lunch money of a bunch of children who don’t know how to cook.

And by that I mean, universities are very much businesses and they very much act like it. Plus, not only are they businesses, they’re businesses that manufacture one of the most expensive and sought after luxury items in the world right now: A higher education. Unless you’re lucky, or you know somebody, or you were smart when you were 17 and you went into the trades, odds are that you probably need a degree of some kind for your career goals. University administrators know this. University boards know this. University investors know this! That’s why they come to your high schools and give seminars on why their school is the best. And you know what they say! The best is expensive. So please come to our school and give us your $50,000 tuition money so we can create an entire economy off of your desire for knowledge, success, wealth and community.

I know that most things are power dynamics and this isn’t exactly new or particularly insidious information. I’m not exactly trying to slander the education system here. I’m just trying to paint the picture of how universities have an incredible amount of power and a history of wielding it, at times, to the outcry of the students over which they hold power. Such is the nature of power.

This particular instance of injustice revolves around the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming (or the Guelph Urban Organic Farm for short, or the GCUOF for shorter. We mostly just call it the farm). The farm sits unassuming on a hectare of land, once run by a lovely team of volunteers focused on providing food for the community, sound and respectful practices for the earth, and knowledge and education for anyone who followed the carrot arrows though campus to find them. That is, until that fertile, undeveloped land started looking less like a farm and more like an investment.

This is the part where we come to the injustices. U of G flexed its muscles and the farm is under new, very uncertain management. And unfortunately for all involved, this particular power struggle led to an incident that’s shocked the organic agriculture community of Guelph. And although we can’t talk about that incident in question, as there are ongoing investigations, we can tell you about what led up to the alleged assault of a volunteer at the farm. And we’re going to! Because it’s an important story to tell.

Support the Friends of the Farm here.

Want to help with direct action? Email Maeve:

Listen here:

The opinions expressed in this podcast, and all episodes of The Crow’s Nest, are those of the author, Thirza Armstrong, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Guelph Tool Library, their Board of Directors, or the Coordinator Team.

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Guelph Tool Library Goes Virtual

The Guelph Tool Library is helping the community stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic with new virtual programming.

“Our whole mission is surrounded in a world where people receive joy in sharing. But without being able to share physically, we still want to be able to maintain that connection. It’s so important right now,” says Stephanie Clarke, sustainability coordinator at the Guelph Tool Library.

“Lending is the new spending” at the Guelph Tool Library and in normal circumstances, members borrow from a full inventory of tools including those used in food preparation and preservation, gardening, renovations and arts.

The non-profit organization seeks to build community resilience by sharing knowledge, skills and resources with various projects including repair cafes, workshops and training sessions.

Since closing its doors at Tytler Public School in March due to the pandemic, Clarke was determined to have the tool library continue with sharing and teaching hands-on programs, virtually.

The new on-line programming includes a virtual craft night, on-line backyard caring workshops, question and answer sessions with repair café volunteers and on-line contests.

“This was so important to me personally. I felt so lost at the beginning of all of this because so much of my life is about planning programs for the tool library,” Clarke said.

“I looked at other online programs and I thought that this is something that we just had to do to stay connected to everyone.”

On a typical Monday night, the Guelph Tool Library used to offer a craft night, drop-in sewing or another type of hands-on skillshare.

Now, the program is virtual with a version of craft night taking place every Monday over Zoom. (link is on Facebook)

“When we have our physical space, our craft nights give members and non-members an opportunity to use our tools and a creative space to work in,” Clarke said.

“So, we thought why not invite people to gather whatever tools and supplies they have at home and they can then share what they’ve made. The projects, so far, have been drastically different and we hope others can be inspired when they see them.”

Participants are encouraged to share project advice and provide demonstrations. Some have already shared their skills in basket weaving, mosaic art and sock darning.

The Backyard Caring Program Workshop Series would usually be held Wednesday nights and it has now been moved to Instagram Live which includes a demonstration and a question and answer period afterwards.

The one-hour on-line program includes topics such as starting seedlings, building your own composter and designing an outdoor garden space. The workshops are hosted by @backyardcaring on Instagram Live at 7 pm every Wednesday.

Backyard Caring Coordinator, Meredith Sweeney hopes to build a local community of gardeners who can access customized gardening information.

“I’ve also been joining Meredith and she has been helping me with starting seeds, composting and plotting out my own yard. She will also be providing tours of her own garden during the workshops,” Clarke says.

Also, with the cancellations of two scheduled repair cafes, volunteer fixers have offered their expertise in a weekly livestream program every Thursday at 7 p.m. on Instagram Live.

The program is hosted by @gtoollibrary and has already covered clothing repairs, knife and tool sharpening, and bicycle maintenance.

Viewers are invited to ask questions live or in advance and have them answered during the program.

“Our fixers show their talents and offer advice on how to fix with minimal tools. For example, if you don’t have a bike repair kit, they will share what you can use instead, right from your own toolbox at home,” Clarke said.

“So far, the response has been really great. We keep the livestreams up for 24 hours afterwards and we also take questions after the program as well.”

Clothing repair volunteers have also been busy making caps and gowns for medical workers during the pandemic.

“We’ve made over 1,000 scrub caps for Guelph General Hospital and now we are making them for paramedics and for workers in care homes,” Clarke said.

Masks are also being made for patients, the general public and for vulnerable populations including those who are homeless.

Since going virtual, The Guelph Tool Library has also featured games and contests such as “guess that tool” on its social media accounts.

“We hope to continue our programming on-line and even build upon them. We want to encourage people to see what they can do with limited supplies,” Clarke says.

“We are all sharing in this complicated struggle right now and it’s so important that we stay connected.”

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The Crow’s Nest #3: Pressed for Time Paninis and the Pandemic Produce Boxes

Ahoy hoy,

Glad to see you here for episode three! Today I’m talking to Jules and Dee from Pressed for Time Panini. Have you ever had a panini? Really, it’s just a thin, grilled sandwich. But somehow it’s nothing like a sandwich. Probably because it’s thin and grilled. If you haven’t had a panini, you’re missing out on something tasty. And if you haven’t had a Pressed for Time panini, not only are you NOT holding a thin and convenient chicken and avocado sandwich, you’re also not experiencing one of the greatest examples of a person-first business model that I’ve ever seen.

Jules and Dee are here for their patrons. Not only will they repost you every time you shout them out on social media, they’ll also make sure you’re staying comfortable and not at all worried about what you’ll be eating today. Breakfast? They have breakfast panini’s! Lunch? How about a panini, of course. Or some soup? Maybe chips or a snack. Dinner? Don’t worry, even though they’re only open until 3 pm, they’ve got supper served with mac and cheese, shepard’s pie, and lasagna. All homemade and ready to be warmed up and devoured. They even have beer deals with the local breweries. But if you’re not in the mood for take out, P4TP will support you with produce boxes, available every Friday for pickup.

Check them out here.

Listen here:

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The Crow’s Nest #2: Jenny Mitchell and the Magic Golden Bus


Thanks for checking out episode two. This round, listen to me chat with Jenny Mitchell, creative extraordinaire. She’s an incredibly interesting, intelligent and genuine podcast guest and was fantastic to interview. This episode, despite being the second, is the first that I recorded. Jenny turned my okay questions into insightful answers and took our conversations in directions I hadn’t even thought of yet. I learned what feels like a lifetime worth of hosting tips within 40 or so minutes of talking. But more than that, the biggest reason that interviewing Jenny was so rewarding was that she kind of embodies the lifestyle that I’m trying to live. While we were talking about our collecting habits and numerous hobbies, I was internally marveling that an adult, a real adult, with a career and children and years of experience at being an adult (most of my life I’ve been quite young and small), was still collecting.

I had grown up in a “you have too many things, starting getting rid of stuff or I’ll be coming around with a garbage bag” kind of household. My mom and my sister chat about their latest purges and books on minimalism, and fight about having the exact same taste in Ikea furniture (literally. My sister will go to Ikea for a new shelf and two weeks later, my mom has it too). I had thought, for a long time, that being an adult meant it was time to stop collecting. Of course, I had no actual intentions of ceasing my en massing of material items to a level just short of reality TV hoarding, but I was disappointed anyways that I seemed to be the only one who enjoyed having every possible artistic media, odd vintage furniture piece, or non-fiction book on obsolete subjects like Astrology’s unseen role in WWII. But talking to Jenny, I realized I’m not as unique as I thought I was. In a good way. It was comforting to know that even though I was walking the slightly cluttered path of maximalism, I wasn’t travelling alone. Folks like Jenny are paving the way.

Jenny’s music

Bridging the Social Distance

listen here:

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The Crow’s Nest #1: Steph Clarke and the Teenaged Fabric Stash


Welcome to the first episode of The Crow’s Nest. It’s finally here! I’m not going to lie; it was not easy. I never really thought I’d be seriously making a podcast. I’ve joked about it with friends, and thought about how fun it would be to have someone at my auditory mercy for 40 minutes, but I never thought I’d actually do it.

Even after it became part of my contract for the Guelph Tool Library to design and start this podcast, I didn’t think I’d actually do it. When I was learning all the essentials of interviewing and recording and editing and publishing and advertising and invoicing and procedure writing that’s required when beginning a project like this for a non-profit, and crying the entire time because I had no idea what I was doing, I definitely didn’t think I’d actually do it. But I did, and here it is.

I thought it would be important to start at home. Not everyone knows what a tool library is. In fact, except those really involved in them, most people outside the membership circle tend not to know what a tool library is. And honestly? That’s an incredible shame for them. I can’t imagine going through my life without the support and resources that the GTL (Guelph Tool Library, for those not in the know) has provided me with. I take out thousands and thousands of dollars worth in tools and equipment every year for $40. I attend workshops on building spice racks, foraging, mending my clothes, making sourdough bread, and beeswax wraps. The GTL has been a source of knowledge, entertainment and inspiration for me. I hope I can pass that on to you through The Crow’s Nest.

Listen here: