Community resources

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Community resources matter for community empowerment. Although Community and voluntary action has a proud tradition of innovation and doing a lot with a little, it's much harder to do something with virtually nothing. It may be that a community's greatest resource is its people, but community action can perhaps best flourish if backed up with at least some 'real' resources. In partnerships it's been observed that community and voluntary groups can, unfortunately, sometimes get ignored because they are perceived as not bringing any (what other partners percieve as 'real') resources to the table.

  • What resources are there in your local community for community groups?
  • Are there places for groups to meet (affordably)?
  • Is there access to Information Technology and enough support to use it?
  • How easy is it for new groups to form and sustain themselves?
  • Are there ways for local community groups to network and support themselves and each other?
  • Is there access to support for networks (looser groups, coalitions, etc.) and not just older more traditional forms of organisation?

What communities can do[edit | edit source]

  • develop open and accessible community centers and all sorts of community facilities
  • community pubs
  • community shops and cafes
  • sustainability, green or eco-centres
  • community gardens and orchards
  • repair, maker and storage spaces
  • share spaces, such as shared work spaces
  • equipment sharing
  • community libraries, including library of things
  • tools libraries
  • toy libraries
  • resources to help all who want to get online
  • community websites and networks
  • support land rights movements
  • encourage the redesign of libraries - see news Nov 16, 2016
  • community theatre space
  • community kitchen
  • community run gallery and exhibition space
  • low cost art and craft spaces
  • community run cycle storage and hire and information about all forms of sustainable transport

Commons[edit | edit source]

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately.

Caring for the commons means more than just regulating. Caretakers are needed, that is, a system nurturing societal cooperation, sharing of goods and thoughtfulness of generations to come. It entails establishing norms that reduce free riding and hold communities together. For our generation seems to be moving beyond viewing commons only as a norm, and taking action to enable and protect them in all spheres of our lives. W

Community ownership[edit | edit source]

Community owned assets or organisations are those that are owned and controlled through some representative mechanism that allows a community to influence their operation or use and to enjoy the benefits arising.

Benefits of community ownership in infrastructure projects such as dams and irrigation are claimed to include increased responsiveness to needs of that community and the community valuing the projects more highly. W

Fab lab[edit | edit source]

A fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop offering (personal) digital fabrication.

A fab lab is generally equipped with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make "almost anything". This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.

While fab labs have yet to compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale in fabricating widely distributed products, they have already shown the potential to empower individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass production. W

Fab Foundation

Hackerspace[edit | edit source]

A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or hackspace) is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate. Hackerspaces have also been compared to other community-operated spaces with similar aims and mechanisms such as Fab Lab, Men's Sheds, and with commercial "for profit" companies such as TechShop. W

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Library Maker Space[edit | edit source]

A library maker space is an area and service traditionally found in public libraries that offers patrons an opportunity to create content through various resources such as computers, 3-D printers, audio and visual devices, and traditional arts and crafts materials, including ecologic material. In the field of library science, maker spaces are classified as a type of library service offered by librarians to patrons.

A library maker space is intended to allow community members to experience technology or activities that they previously were not able to access. As many maker spaces include technology like 3D printers, sewing machines, soldering guns, coding, robotics, and wood carving machines, patrons are invited to experiment freely. The ultimate purpose of a maker space is to inspire an interest in science, technology and design in the children, young adults, working citizens and elderly who frequent the library. Over time, it is expected that the available activities within each individual maker space will grow to reflect the interests of each community in which the library is housed. Maker spaces are also intended to allow minorities or underrepresented populations, like women, or people with disabilities, to become involved with technology and fields they may not have previously considered.

There are many types of maker spaces offered as a library service. They are usually developed around a certain type of medium, technology, or even patron age group. Some examples include computer programming and coding, 3D modeling and printing, games, and traditional arts and crafts. Although experts in the area may be available, the community atmosphere of the space allows patrons to learn from each other and experiment rather than receive lessons.

Maker spaces have also grown to allow patrons to take classes to develop a certain skill, like cooking, sewing or yoga. W

Little Free Library[edit | edit source]

Little Free Libraries are a community movement in the United States and worldwide that offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, and Noox (Neighbourhood bOOk eXchange), amongst other terms. W

Little Free Library, Easthampton Massachusetts

Makerspaces[edit | edit source]

The rise of the maker culture is closely associated with the rise of hackerspaces, Fab Labs and other "maker spaces", of which there are now many around the world, including over 100 each in Germany and the United States. Hackerspaces allow like-minded individuals to share ideas, tools, and skillsets. Some notable hackerspaces which have been linked with the maker culture include Noisebridge, NYC Resistor, A2 Mech Shop, Pumping Station: One, Artisan's Asylum, and TechShop. In addition, those who identify with the subculture can be found at more traditional universities with a technical orientation, such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon (specifically around "shop" areas like the MIT Hobby Shop and CMU Robotics Club). As maker culture becomes more popular, hackerspaces and Fab Labs are becoming more common in universities and public libraries. In Europe the popularity of the labs is more prominent than in the US: about three times more labs exist there.

Outside Europe and the US, the maker culture is also on the rise, with several hacker or makerspaces being landmarks in their respective cities' entrepreneurial and educational landscape.W

Men's Sheds[edit | edit source]

Men’s Sheds or Community Sheds are non-profit organisations that originated in Australia, to advise and improve the overall health of all males. However they have expanded their remit to anyone regardless of age or gender. In many ways they parallel the growing Hackerspace movement which has similar aims and mechanisms, albeit Hack/Maker spaces are more explicit about their inclusion of all ages and genders. They normally operate on a local level in the community, promoting social interaction and aim to increase the quality of life. There are over 900 located across Australia, with thousands of active members. Men’s Sheds can also be found in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Finland and Greece. W

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Tool libraries[edit | edit source]

Tool libraries allow patrons to borrow tools, equipment and "how-to" instructional materials, functioning either as a rental shop, with a charge for borrowing the tools, or more commonly free of charge as a form of community sharing. Given their increasing popularity and proven history of success, tool libraries and tool banks are now playing an exciting role in the burgeoning sharing economy and can be found everywhere from local public libraries to makerspaces. W

Other community resources[edit | edit source]

See for example

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Jul 21 Community resources UK: "Play Out Til Tea" is a great Birmingham Impact Hub idea - but their "neighbourhood of the future" is even better [1]

News and comment[edit | edit source]


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May 30 Barking and Dagenham: Tomorrow Today Streets, Creating essential micro-infrastructure for post Covid 19 neighbourhoods, TessyBritton [2]

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May 10 Community resources UK: Who can be trusted to develop us? Yes, we the people. But local Trusts have been strengthening communities for decades. Covid-19 shows it's their time [3]

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Apr 22 Canada’s libraries step up to help vulnerable people during pandemic [4]

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Mar 16 Scotland news: We don’t need institutes, we need constitutes… and they should live in a Makar House, Pat Kane [5]


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Nov 29 Community resources UKLibrary of Things is helping UK go zero waste [6]

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Oct 9 Climate change solutions: Cross-sector ‘third spaces’ incubate social, climate solutions [7]

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Jul 21 Community resources UK: "Play Out Til Tea" is a great Birmingham Impact Hub idea - but their "neighbourhood of the future" is even better [8]

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Apr 24 Oxfordshire: The library of things: could borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money? [9]


Place Royale et le Funiculaire (au fond), Québec, QC, Canada.jpg

Nov 12 Empowering Canada's Indigenous communities through coworking [10]

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Commons: Strengthening and protecting what matters most by @CassieRobinson, Nov 2 [11]

Creating the everyday commons: The need to consider space in sharing initiatives, Nov 1 [12]


Towards sustainable economies news: If our every click boosts the profits of Big Tech, how should the people and communities benefit? UBI? UBA? Small Tech? Oct 19 [13]

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Social inclusion UK: The Common Room — designing a future for all ages, Oct 2 [14]

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Sep 11 United States: Why 'Social Infrastructure' Is the Key to Renewing Civil Society [15]
Sep 8 To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library [16]

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Community resources UK: Britain’s shared spaces are vanishing, leaving us a nation of cliques, John Harris, Sep 4 [17]

Fab Labs supports local entrepreneurship with open-source and peer-to-peer production, Feb 8 [18]


London news: Why Smart City London should be a #NetworkedCity: participatory, sharing, inclusive and accessible, Feb 9 [19]

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In Vancouver, Shipping Containers are the New Tool Libraries, Jan 10 [20]


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Oct 5 Inside Fab Lab Barcelona and the IAAC: 3D printing for the people [21]

8 Lessons from the Second Annual International Lending Library Symposium, Jun 27 [22]


Minnesota: Craftsman donates his tools - and himself, Apr 23 [23]

5 reasons why there's more to coworking spaces than just work, Apr 5 [24]

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Cities Are Driving a Public Library Boom in Australia, Apr 4 [25]

5 Coworking Spaces and Business Incubators in Libraries That Support Local Workers, Apr 3 [26]

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Quebec's Vacant Church Buildings Resurrected as Community Spaces, Mar 14 [27]

Little Free Library Launches 'Action Book Club' to Inspire Community Service, Mar 2 [28]

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US news: Why Nonpartisan PAC EveryLibrary Defends the Future of Libraries, Feb 30 [29]

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Tennessee: The original heart of Memphis, Feb 17 [30]

How to Welcome and Engage People in Community Spaces, Jan 10 [31]


Patterns of Commoning: A Journey Through Time to the Irrigation System in Valais, Switzerland, Dec 16 [32]

How Libraries are Boldly Innovating to Meet the Needs of Changing Communities, Nov 16 [33]


Habibi.Works is a FabLab equipped with all the tools for people to unfold their potential and hone their abilities, Oct 31 [34]

Building Community Resilience from the Ground Up, Nov 10 [35]

“Introducing the Global Atlas of Innovation Spaces” by Ananse Group, Oct 7 [36]

Creative Commons' Radical Plan to Bring Joy to the Commons, Mar 23 [37]


“Makerspace: Towards a New Civic Infrastructure,” Will Holman, November [38]

Doing more together, together: seeding a Collaborative Technology Alliance, November 24 [39]

Imagining the (R)Urban Commons in 2040, November 12, von Silke Helfrich [40]

Why hardware needs to go open source, October 17 [41]



Netherlands: How a New Dutch Library Smashed Attendance Records, Jul 21 [42]


Libraries and community engagement, Jan 25 [43]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Apps for sustainability[edit | edit source]

Teem, a visual way to get people involved

How to's[edit | edit source]

  • How to Build a FabLab, Shareable, October 14, 2013

Maps[edit | edit source]

find your local Tool and Lending Libraries,

List of Hacker Spaces

Networks[edit | edit source]

Wevolver, online platform for sharing and collaborating on open-source hardware projects W

Other resources[edit | edit source]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

“We’re like a road show. We don’t have a space, so we use the community."
Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Early Learning and Health Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association. [44] / Chicago

“I would like more than anything to have our own space in the community, because we always have to be looking for places to run our programs. I want to run them every day.”
Gloria Concepcion [45] / Chicago

"Aleida Arzeta dreams of a community center that would also function as a café and bakery, and a place where families could share social and emotional support.

Aleida, Gloria and I fantasize about the community center of their dreams. They envision a comprehensive center with education, business, social and health supports all in one – not a place where “experts” would provide “services” to people in need, but a place where real people would support each other, because we are all experts in something, and we all have needs." Kate Duva [46] / Chicago

Video[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Interwiki links[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia: Commons, Community ownership, Hackerspace, Library Maker Space, Little Free Library, List of open-source hardware projects, List of tool-lending libraries, Makerspaces, Men's Sheds, Library of Things W


External links[edit | edit source]


This page includes Creative Commons Licensed content from the Sustainable community action wiki on Wikia.
The list of authors can be seen in the history, link via drop down menu at top left of page.