Transition Guelph

Category: General

Guelph Tool Library will have its second Repair Cafe on Sat Dec 3rd at St James the Apostle Church from 9 to 1! There will be volunteers who will help to fix toys, Christmas ornaments, clothing, jewelry, electrical appliances, etc. There will also be a holiday gift swap events! This is a free event.

Would you like to volunteer fixing stuff? please contact


Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe – Saturday August 20 from 9 am until 1 pm

The Guelph Tool Library is presenting Guelph’s first Repair Café. The Repair Café will take place in the morning of Saturday August 20 at St. James the Apostle (86 Glasgow Street North, Guelph).

A Repair Café is an event where people volunteer to try and fix broken items. Stations will be set up in the hall and outside with volunteers offering to fix damaged items or provide advice about next steps. Tables will be set up for repairing jewellery, simple sewing fixes, small appliance repair, and bike repairs. Volunteers from the University of Guelph Bike Club and Transition Guelph will be among the people helping out.

Tool Library Coordinator Susan Carey said “It is a fantastic project to bring to Guelph. Repair Cafés offer a chance to repair a favourite item and to keep it out of the landfill”.

The Repair Café will also offer a Swap Table. Participants bring an item in good working order that they no longer need and swap it for something of equivalent value. The table is a unique way to share items and reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill.

Finally, the Repair Café will be a chance for the Guelph Tool Library to promote itself and to sell memberships. The Guelph Tool Library will also be accepting donations of gently used kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and hand tools.

The Guelph Tool Library is looking for volunteers to help out with the Repair Café. If you have a skill that you would like to share or if you just want to help out. Please contact

MapLocation: The site search has ended and we have officially found our new home!!  We are located at 123 Woolwich Street, Guelph, ON.


Open House: Come for a tour on Saturday, July 16, 2016 between 11:00am-2:00pm.  See our new space, check out our current collection of tools, and join the tool library!  This open house is part of the Urban Farm Tour, more info at


Memberships: Our website is up and running, which means you can become a member.  Visit or come to our open house this Saturday, July 16th to join.


Tool Donations: We have received many gracious donations of basic garden tools, but we haven’t received much kitchen related inventory. A list of things we could use is listed at the end of this update. Please spread the word!


Repair Cafe: We’re hosting our first Repair Cafe on the morning of August 20th at St James the Apostle Church. You can bring in a broken household item and ideally, get it fixed! There will be various repair stations: electrical items, jewelry, zippers, clothing, furniture and wooden items, etc. The CSA Bike Centre will be there for minor bike repairs and maintenance. There will also be a locally grown salad buffet brunch, tool library donation drop-off, swap tables and info displays. More info to come!


Volunteers: Yup, we’ll need them. Interested? Email us and I’ll add you to our list. We believe in giving volunteers interesting and creative tasks. Write-ups of volunteer positions are in the works.


To contact the tool library, email


Follow us on Twitter @GToolLibrary


Kitchen wish list (by no means is this a complete list!)

  • Blender with glass jug
  • Hand mixer
  • Slow cooker
  • Stand mixer with dough hooks
  • Pressure canner
  • Toaster oven
  • Hot plate
  • Propane outdoor cooker
  • Smoker
  • Charcoal BBQ
  • Canning pot
  • Stock pot
  • Rice cooker
  • Pasta mill
  • Grain press
  • Flour mill
  • Various food thermometers
  • Various cake tins
  • Icing kit
  • Juicer
  • Large roasting pan
  • Large serving platters
  • Foley mill
  • Scales
  • Sets of dishes, glassware etc. suitable for catering


Tool Library

Susan Carey, chair of the Urban Food Working Group at Transition Guelph, holds some of the hand tools, kitchen tools and seed packs soon to be available as part of the organization’s latest projects.

Originally published in the Guelph Mercury at
By Doug Coxson

Susan Carey wants you to take a moment to consider the inch of dust collecting on the mitre saw in your basement.

While you’re at it, ponder the waste-of-space wheelbarrow in your garden shed; or the rototiller you’ve always wanted but couldn’t justify buying.

By the way, did you to know the average lifetime use for a power drill is only 13 minutes?

In other words — you don’t need a drill, you need a hole in the wall.

Carey, who chairs the Urban Food Working Group at
Transition Guelph, thought about these and other realities as she and co-conspirator John Dennis discussed the possibility of launching a tool library over the last year.

What’s a tool library, you ask?

It’s a library where you borrow tools instead of books.

Instead of forking out $200 for a reciprocating saw that will end up gathering dust between uses, you could join a tool library and get the tools you need, when you need them, at a fraction of the cost.

Many who buy into the concept end up donating tools to free up space in their homes.

“It’s such a good fit for this town,” says Carey, who was inspired by Transition Guelph’s mandate to build a resilient and sustainable community.

It’s also a good fit for Transition Guelph — the eight-year-old, not-for-profit organization that has spawned innovative projects like urban farm tours, a seed exchange, a community orchard and the Urban Sugaring Project, which loans out buckets and taps for residents to collect sap and participate in a communal boil-down of maple syrup.

The tool library concept grew from Guelph’s backyard-sharing program, created to expand the inventory of backyard space available for community gardens, and the tools needed to maintain them.

It sparked the idea to create a system where residents could pay a small, annual fee for the opportunity to reserve agricultural tools through an easy-to-use website, then pick them up and return them to a central location.

But it’s not a new concept. The first tool library opened in Berkeley, Calif., in 1979. Today, there are close to 120 tool libraries around the world, Toronto having the second one in Canada.

In Guelph, the push to launch a tool library really began to take off when Transition Guelph received a $5,000 wellness grant from the city and a $500 donation from the Rotary Club. Today, it’s nearing reality as a summer launch date approaches and donations of tools and equipment continue to roll in.

“The mayor and council have been very supportive,” Carey says. “They see this as a benefit to the community.”

Last fall, a community survey about what the Guelph tool library should include gathered 127 responses that named everything from post hole diggers to pressure canners. Since then, some of the big items added to the inventory are four wheelbarrows, a cider press and a rototiller.

JD Engines has offered to donate maintenance service for the entire tool library inventory as it grows.

Other parts of the project are still in the works, including securing a location, launching the website and the possibility of offering delivery for some of the bigger tools.

One site being considered is the former Acker’s Furniture space on Carden Street. Other ideas have the tool inventory stored in a shipping container stationed in a parking lot donated by a local business.

Guelph’s Tool Library wouldn’t have happened without help from the Toronto Tool Library and its co-founder Lawrence Alvarez, who provided guidance that included access to the lending software developed by the Berkeley Tool Library.

Alvarez helped establish Toronto’s Tool Library in March 2013. It now has four locations, including an expanded location on Danforth Avenue called The Sharing Depot, which opened last week to give members access to a selection of camping and outdoor equipment, toys and games.

Alvarez is unapologetic about how the idea grew from efforts around reducing consumption and reducing our carbon footprint.

“We’ve had people say that this would disrupt existing business, but for me I’m always trying to look at what the world needs in 50 years,” he says.

“It’s always been about the disruption of the needless consumption of these things. It’s a waste of money, a waste of space and it’s a tremendous waste of the earth’s resources”

“We can’t continue to use the earth in disposable, single-use fashion anymore.”

Carey says the concept has gained traction as the sharing economy grew and people looked for ways to simplify their lives.

“Western society has brought capitalism to a stage in development where there is simply too much stuff,” she says, citing her own experience with the local clothing closet where they’re often overwhelmed with donations.

But she doesn’t see a project like this hurting local businesses, mainly because the concept isn’t for everyone and those who use it will still have a disposable income to spend on other stuff.

“People are still shopping, they’re just shopping differently.”

Carey also sees the tool library as a way to bolster community connectedness and sees complementary goals between the tool library and places like the Diyode community workshop.

The Wyndham Street maker space offers a place for its paying members to use various equipment including electronics, woodworking and metalworking tools. It’s a space where Carey says collaboration could happen — perhaps a “repair café” where people could drop by, enjoy a coffee and have experts offer quick fixes for things like broken zippers, dead cellphones or “the lamp the dog chewed the cord on.”

Another offshoot of the tool library is a plan to develop a kitchen library. That concept offers shared kitchen equipment, from stand mixers to bread ovens.

Just last week, Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group hosted a roundtable at the former Acker’s building, where plans are coming together to develop a shared commercial community kitchen.

“Those plans would complement the kitchen equipment we aspire to make available to the community,” Carey says.

Carey hopes it becomes a “runaway project,” and sees a day when collaboration happens between Transition Guelph and the Guelph Public Library, giving every library patron access to the tool library at little to no cost.

The ultimate goal of any tool library is to eliminate the economic barrier to access.

So far the community has embraced the idea, and Carey’s eager to hear from even more Guelphites who want to become members.

More information is available by emailing

This is guest post from Evan Ferrari, Executive Director of eMERGE Guelph, one of Transition Guelph’s wonderful partner organizations. If you have more questions about the CEI and how you can help, please get in touch with me at

Photo from

Photo from

What’s the best thing you can do on Earth Day?

Support the CEI (Community Energy Initiative) – creating a local economy that puts more people to work by reducing the pollution causing climate change.

On Monday April 25 the city will make a decision on the fate of whether to update the CEI. Rarely do we get a chance to have a profound impact on the future of our city’s economy – and at the same time – improve our environment. Add your voice to update the CEI and accelerate the work to create a post-carbon economy.

The CEI provides all of us with the opportunity to transform our local economy for the better. An economy that will focus on putting our neighbours and families to work by investing in:

  • using less energy,
  • using energy more wisely
  • and producing more clean energy alternatives locally.

It’s about creating more energy security within our city.

By getting this right we can keep more of the half a $ billion dollars a year in energy costs that leaves the city — right here. We can do this by putting more people to work locally. And at the same time we would be creating a healthier place for our children to grow and prosper. Now nine years old, the initiative has some challenges. But an update will focus us toward a cleaner and more prosperous path forward. The Guelph CEI has been a catalyst for municipalities across the country to take charge of their own local economy.

Some of the local benefits that have come from the CEI include:

  1. Guelph generates 50% more peak electricity locally than similar Ontario communities. We’ve done this through solar photo-voltaic, combined heat and power and by harnessing methane from the former Eastview landfill site. This amounts to 10’s of millions of dollars of local capital investment – at a minimum. And millions of dollars, every year, staying in the city from the electricity that’s been generated. Those generating systems are owned by local businesses, co-ops, institutions, places of worship and individual homeowners. We are 50% above average because of the CEI.
  2. And then there’s a new project where Reids Heritage Homes wants to work with their competitors to build an entire community of highly efficient Net-Zero homes that will be 3 times more energy efficient than the current building code. They don’t want to build a single ‘demonstration home’ but an entire community. They have been very clear that they want to do this in Guelph because of the CEI.
  3. Another downtown property -about to be renovated – is considering making their building “District Energy Ready” They’re considering this because of the CEI.
  4. Then there’s the Canadian Solar plant that employs 500 people. Canadian Solar has 10,000 employees worldwide. Their revenue in 2014: $2.96 Billion US (more than $3 Billion CAD). In 2015 they ranked second worldwide in solar panel shipments. And they chose to make Guelph their worldwide headquarters because of the CEI.

At eMERGE we’re very encouraged that the CEI report is recommending a full public update. It proposes a community driven Initiative that re-engages businesses, institutions and of course all citizens of Guelph to make this a robust a plan. We encourage you to let city council know how you feel about updating the CEI in order to move towards a diversified economy that makes our community healthier and more prosperous.

We are calling this year’s festival a great success! With a more condensed schedule than last year, it seemed to suit the mood. We ran events from Thursday to Sunday covering a good variety of interests.

The Builder’s Symposium reported a good turn out, as did the film screening (with a few technical difficulties). On Saturday, we had a lot of people through the festival to learn new skills at the Minga Skill Building workshops and buy seeds for their garden at Seedy Saturday. Guelph Community Acupuncture also offered free treatments through the afternoon. The raffle raised a good bit of money to help cover costs, and boasted prizes such as gift certificates to New Age, Zehrs and Smitten Apparel, as well as a Wike cargo trailer!

Here are the raffle winners. We will be contacting you by phone if you haven’t heard from us yet.

Rain Barrel: Sherry Dubé
Green light at the end of the tunnel (book) and membership to Yorklands Green Hub: Bern
Gift certificate to Smitten Apparel: Sharon
Gift certificate to Minga Skill Building Hub: Sandy
Gift certificate to New Age health food store: Stan
Gift certificate to Zehrs: Emily, Annie
Wellington Brewery gift basket: Wanita, Janet
Fairy house from Lucien Gagnon: Tiff
Wike Economy cargo trailer: Dave

On Saturday evening we had around 100 people for the 8th annual Earth Hour Potluck, lit by solar-charged-battery-powered Christmas lights (thanks Doug!). We enjoyed good food and a good company while the little ones of the community ran around and laughed together. Finishing off Saturday night, Gary Diggins lead the Big Beat at Silence, which saw around 50 people share a solstice celebration in music and dance.

Sunday morning’s Living Life to the Fullest workshop, at Innovation Guelph was very well attended. Partner yoga was small but fun, and the Narratives workshop in the afternoon was cancelled due to lack of participants.

Overall, we are happy with how the festival went, and are grateful to our volunteers, coordinators, event and workshop leaders, and everyone who came out! Thank you for another great year!

As a note, if you volunteered with the festival this year and would like to receive timebank hours as payment for your efforts, please email

The last of the sap pick ups will take place next week.  You can drop off your sap on Monday March 14 and Wednesday March 16 from 5 until 6 p.m. at the St. James Parking lot (86 Glasgow Street North).

If your tree has stopped running, sap has not come out of the tree for three or four day in a row, please return your kits.  Give the equipment a quick rinse but do not use any soap of cleaners on it.  Also remember to keep your sap in a cool place out of the sun.  It can also be frozen to ensure that it does not go off.

The Urban Sugaring Project TeamIMG_20160310_181749

RotaryTransition Guelph is pleased to be the recipient of a 2016 Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium Community Funding Grant.  The grant for $500 will be used to establish Guelph’s first tool library.  The library will have tools that anyone can borrow to be a successful gardener and to properly preserve food.

The grant recognizes that there is a clearly identified need for this program and provides seed money for Transition Guelph to undertake this project.  We are thankful for the support of the Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium.

Click here to find out more Guelph Tool library.


GuelphTransition Guelph is the recipient of a 2016 Community Wellbeing Grant from the City of Guelph.  Transition Guelph was awarded $5000 to support the 2016 Resilience Festival, the Urban Sugaring Project,  and the start up of the Guelph Tool Library.  Transition Guelph is thankful for the on-going support of the City of Guelph through these grants.

The invitation to participate in the Keynote panel during Resilience 2015 gave Christine and me a great opportunity to reflect on the early days of Transition Guelph and all that has come into being since then. Thank you, planning volunteers, for the invitation to speak, and thanks to everyone at the Keynote evening who asked questions and contributed to the discussion, and helped to cohere these realizations!

All of us have been on a rich venture of learning and doing since the beginnings of TG. I’d like to share some thoughts that stand out as I look back and imagine forward. Most of these represent knowledge we early organizers held early on that has been confirmed and enriched along the way.

The main points are:

  • Resilience is about learning and adapting
  • Visioning is vital
  • Relationship is primary
  • It’s about people care as Earth care, individual and group sustainability
  • It’s about the power of community, and the power of one

Thanks in advance for your attention. Here we go!

Resilience is about learning and growing together in order to adapt.

Resilience is more than just “bouncing back” from adversity, as important as that is. The people of Transition Guelph follow a long-term strategy of connecting with one another to build thriving systems for meeting people’s needs – healthy social, economic and environmental systems – in changing or unpredictable circumstances.

I really like Nikki Silvestri’s definition: “I define community resilience as the ability, as a community, to withstand change in a way that protects all people, and an ability to take advantage of change (italics mine) in a way that increases the ability of the community to thrive.”

It has become clear that most of all, Transition is a cultural process, one that reweaves connections, bringing people together, empowering us all with a creative impulse. As Transition Movement founder Rob Hopkins wrote,”… my sense is that Transition embodies the possibility of something that few other things can achieve. It is about what is currently politically impossible becoming politically inevitable. Transition can start to change the tone, change the background buzz, change the sense of what’s possible” (

Change keeps changing, sometimes in surprising ways, and it’s energizing and rewarding to stay flexible and innovative. In Rob Hopkins’ words, “What we are seeing emerging around the world is a new narrative for these times. A narrative that says these are extraordinary times, and times that demand us to be extraordinary.”

Narratives about peak oil have shifted, with more commentators and the public recognizing that the world, especially industrialized societies, need to end the addiction to fossil fuels, even though presently prices are low, for the sake of the climate. Awareness of climate disruption has advanced to where it’s now common to know that burning carbon puts us most at risk of destroying the chances for life on Earth.

A longing for greater justice and sustainability in economic systems is catching hold and spreading. Models old and new that address these questions are arising in abundance:

  • What would it be like for our human economy to be in harmony with the Earth’s economy?
  • What would our communities be like if we put energy into personalized and localized resources that benefit everyone around us?

Re-use and swaps, DIY fabricating and repair, Time Banking, cooperatives and gift economy, even corporate structures like B-Corp that focus on social and environmental good are thriving. Their existence subverts the outdated story that non-stop growth of capitalized wealth is the only way open to humanity.

The importance of Visioning; imagining the world we want to live in

One of the features of the Transition Movement that drew me powerfully in the beginning is the central place of visioning and actualizing positive, forward-looking solutions that can include everyone. As we design and work on the many projects that our volunteers are passionate about, we are all guided by the shared purpose of creating the society we want to live in and pass along to those who come after, our human and other descendants. Intention is fully honoured as a powerful force for opening new possibilities in every realm.

Relationships are primary; building and tending them, we create the better life we want.

To paraphrase from the description of Transition Lab (well worth a read at ): The Transition Movement goes much deeper than merely creating a better survival strategy. Many of us recognize that the biggest problem with our world is that we do not live in relationship with most things in our lives. We are not really connected to where our food comes from, where our phones are made, or where our gas is drilled. This often makes the ecocide all around us distant enough that we are able to keep on going about our lives without much thought to the consequences of our actions.

We grow life-enhancing relationships by:

  • Connecting deeply with Nature – getting to know our place in the world around us and our own wild, intuitive, wise selves
  • Getting really good at communication — learning and practicing the skills in order to foster harmony and make the most of different perspectives and diverse contexts
  • Inviting each person to contribute their gifts and talents – trusting that everyone has valuable parts to play
  • Balancing process and practical orientations in our gatherings and endeavours — inner & outer realms intertwine and enrich one another
  • Talking and listening – as Grace Lee Boggs said a few years ago, “It’s not only important to act, it’s important to talk because when you talk you begin to create new ideas and new languages.”

Persons and organizations need and deserve care and support

Caring for the living Earth means also caring for ourselves and those around us. Giving attention to sustaining our energy and health individually and collectively, we create a better way that subverts the old extractive worldview that sees everything as only resources to be exploited.

Personally, this can mean recognizing the imperative to step back from endless activity before disillusionment or poor health ensue. Consultation, planning, and the goodwill of many have meant that we can make such choices healthy for TG, allowing for shared leadership and greater collaboration. Practices that prevent depletion and burnout will also grow our awareness, stamina and viability – actualizing the vision of resilience on every scale.

The power of one and the power of community

I have been amazed and fascinated to see how so few of us initially have been joined by more and more builders, nurturers, and warriors on the side of life (see Joanna Macy’s story of the Shambhala Warrior in Coming Back to Life), and how this has resulted in the vibrant, creative, busy Transition Guelph of today.

When I first came home inspired with this awesome Transition Towns idea, little did I know that I would find other passionate Guelves and it would turn into potlucks and parties, stimulating film screenings and presentations, community gardens and food-bearing perennials planted in Guelph, a time exchange system, focus on wellbeing and self-care, sustainable builders combining interests and expertise, alliances with wonderful community partners and social enterprises – wow! We have now an ongoing wealth of Inner Transition activities, a lively web presence, Transition Streets, music makers, local movement for Fair Trade, new narratives in the making, greater skills, a beautiful Resilience Festival tradition, and more … plus a robust web of connections and friendships for so many! All of you who are or have been involved are absolutely miraculous – together we are an adaptive, generative system that is alive, creative, and energizing.

A few last words if you wish to keep reading

… from Grace Lee Boggs again:

… I learned as I grew older … that how we change the world and how we think about changing the world has to change… The time has come for us to reimagine everything… How do we reimagine everything in the light of a change that is so far reaching and is our responsibility to make?

We reimagine by combining activism with philosophy, talking about revolution and evolution in the most fundamental terms. We have to do what [I call] visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition.

… and from Russell Evans, Transition Lab:

We can stop being consumers and instead advocate for our basic needs in ways that make us better citizens. These are relationships that require communication, boundaries, assertiveness, collaboration, and compassion to be successful. These are also exactly the skills we need to develop to be successful beyond our doorsteps in the fight for clean air, water, social justice, fracking, and so on. By working in relationship for our basic needs, instead of being consumers of needs, we fundamentally change how we walk on the planet.

We have to create forms of work that create community and expand our humanity. We know that giving ourselves to work that ignites our passion is possible in many cases only from a position of privilege. We can strive to create work with which everyone can meaningfully contribute, that all people can engage in because they care.

When we start growing our own food, exchanging and sharing labour and skill, and working with community, we make choices that consider the well-being of one another and not just our wallets. These are the ways to fundamentally change how we live and approach our lives. These are powerful, radical actions that we can take towards healing our planet and ourselves

… and from the Poet Rainer Maria Rilke

The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

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