One of the projects we were able to tackle during our Winter Restoration was transforming this shipping container into an office space.

Welcome to the MUD blog! This is a space where we MUD folk will share new and exciting happenings at MUD, information relevant to upcoming workshops and events, and tips and tricks to living a more sustainable urban lifestyle. Thanks for tuning in!

As Missoula emerges from its winter slumber, the MUD team recently emerged from our month-long Winter Restoration. During this time, our open hours were limited to Saturdays only while we focused on improving certain aspects of MUD. With the help of veteran tool librarians Jonathan Peeblson and Park Hoeg, our new head tool librarian Christian Russel led the charge of tackling the neglected corners of the tool library and following through on several long-delayed projects, including updating our tool inventory and transforming an empty shipping container into an office space.

The Winter Restoration culminated in our Reopening Celebration and Tool Sale, where we got to show off our rejuvenated site and offer a hodgepodge of surplus tools for sale. Ultimately, the improvements made during our Winter Restoration will help ensure that the MUD Tool Library continues to be a high quality resource for the Missoula community.

Meanwhile, the MUD board and staff got down to the nitty gritty of what MUD is all about during our strategic planning retreat, facilitated by Rachel Gooen of 5th House Consulting. We debated target audiences, scrutinized our programs, and brainstormed MUD’s needs and purpose. We walked away with a new understanding of MUD that is reflected in our new mission statement:

MUD empowers people to build a more sustainable community through tool sharing and hands-on learning.

We believe that our previous mission statement, which described MUD as “promoting urban sustainable living,” did not fully communicate our role as a provider of resources that have the power to shape our community. We don’t promote, we empower. We provide the tools and the skills, and let our members take the lead in creating a better Missoula. We are a resource for change.

Strategic planning underway at our board and staff retreat in January.

Our upcoming spring workshops reflect the change that we hope to empower our members to create. We will be welcoming two hives of bees to MUD this spring and demonstrating the process step-by-step in a series of hands-on beekeeping workshops. Down the line, we will also be installing a native pollinator garden to support our busy insect friends and to demonstrate sustainable, pollinator-friendly landscaping. We also plan to upgrade our inventory of gas-powered lawn mowers and line trimmers, two of our most popular items, to electrically-powered models. This will enable us to take full advantage of our solar panels while reducing our emissions and minimizing the need to consume oil and gas. By sharing tools and demonstrating skills for urban sustainability, we hope to empower all Missoulians to build a more sustainable community.

As MUD continues to evolve and grow, we want your input. Does our new mission statement capture MUD for you? Are there any workshops you would like us to offer? Feel free to leave a comment below about what would make MUD the most valuable resource for you.

Thanks, friends!


2 Comments

Tim Skufca · March 7, 2020 at 11:37 am

It is great that you all went through a strategic planning session. This is critical to having an organization keep on target. Congratulations.
The part that I’m sorry that has faded away from MUD is the “D” in MUD (demonstration). Sure, there is an occasional workshop, but nothing like that of the past. (did you have workshops during the recent remodel of the shipping container, to “empower” Missoulians to do their own sheetrock, or flooring, or door installations, or….?) Granted, there is not a residential space at MUD (like the North side location), but these skills need to be “demonstrated”. Perhaps a direction for MUD to pursue is to seek funding to upgrade homes for elderly homeowners. This would be an excellent way to DEMONSTRATE sustainable building practices. It’s a little sad to see MUD merely be a tool library when its past was so much more.

    Jane McGuire · March 13, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Tim, thanks for the feedback! MUD’s main focus has become the tool library but we still see value in demonstrating sustainable living for our community. We host about 20 workshops each year and our site features several different demonstration projects – the urban gardens, permeable walkways, brick parking spaces, solar roof, and buildings constructed from repurposed shipping containers. We will soon be installing interpretive signs around the site that highlight each of these demonstration projects – come check them out at our Earth Day celebration! Our office remodel did include a framing workshop but unfortunately the space was too narrow to have more than 2 or 3 people working in there for the drywall and flooring. As we develop more projects around our site we will continue to invite the community to learn and participate with us. As an organization we have to change and evolve, but we hope to always provide valuable resources to the Missoula community, including demonstration. We are glad that the “D” continues to be important to MUD’s supporters, past and present!

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