The Missoula Urban Demonstration (MUD) Project is a tool library, demonstration site, and skill-sharing hub rolled into one. Since 1981, MUD has worked toward the vision of a world in which tools and skills are shared for the betterment of our community and planet.

History

Original founders of the Down Home Project at the northside demonstration homes circa 1981.

The seeds of MUD were planted in 1981 by the Down Home Project, a group passionate about urban sustainability. The project was based out of two northside homes where sustainable practices were woven into the fabric of daily life. The public was invited to learn how to integrate these practices into their own lives through workshops, site tours, and regular community gatherings. As its focus expanded to include tool sharing, the Down Home Project evolved into MUD.

An outdoor gathering at MUD’s original location on Missoula’s northside.

MUD officially sprouted as an offshoot of the Down Home Project in 1989, and continued to operate out of the northside homes for two decades. By 2011, the tool library had become a staple of the organization, and MUD relocated to an empty lot on Wyoming St. There, MUD created more expansive tool storage space and continues to build upon the sustainability projects that have been fundamental to the organization since the very beginning. 

Mission & Vision

Projects underway amid the urban gardens at MUD’s current location on Wyoming Street.

Although MUD’s mission and vision have seen many iterations over the years, their core values remain the same. Today, MUD’s mission and vision are:

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

Vision: We believe education, demonstration, and celebration of urban sustainable living will create equitable communities and healthy ecosystems.

Programs

MUD’s four logos – the hammer, truck, sunflower, and chicken – each represent a different component of MUD. The hammer stands for the core of MUD: the tool library. Boasting over 2,500 tools, the tool library allows MUD members to accomplish nearly any project imaginable with shared tools. By bringing do-it-yourself projects within the reach of all Missoulians, MUD empowers our community to achieve more with less.

MUD’s Truck Share program, represented by the truck logo, is an extension of the MUD Tool Library. Members can borrow the iconic MUD truck for all of their project needs. The Truck Share is the only vehicle sharing program of its kind in Missoula, and in 2019 MUD members drove the truck over 3,500 miles.

Like the MUD Tool Library and Truck Share programs, MUD’s demonstration site and educational programs (or sunflower and chicken, respectively), are two sides of the same coin. The demonstration site serves as an example of how sustainable living techniques can be used to live lightly on the earth in an urban setting, similar to the northside homes during the era of the Down Home Project. A full list of these projects can be found here. Interpretive signs dispersed throughout the MUD site highlight each project so Missoulians can visit to learn and be inspired, whether MUD is open or closed.

The majority of MUD’s demonstration projects were achieved with the help of volunteers or workshop participants. Each year, MUD hosts between 15 and 20 sustainability-oriented workshops, during which skilled MUD instructors guide participants through hands-on projects. Whether you want to raise chickens in your backyard, build a kitchen table for your home, or even learn how to shape red-hot metal using blacksmithing tools, there’s a good chance a MUD workshop can teach you what you need to know.

At MUD, tool sharing, demonstration, and education intertwine to not only serve the needs of the individual, but to bring us all closer to a world in which resources, skills, and knowledge are shared for the betterment of our community and planet.

Click on the image below to see what we accomplished in 2019: