Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD)
Tools and Skills for Sustainable Living
Situated at the base of the mountains in western Montana, Missoula is a city of nearly 75,000 people. Despite the population of Missoula growing by nearly 10 percent since 2010, the city still maintains a unique sense of community, one that is clearly conveyed through local nonprofits like the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD).
“MUD started as a group of neighbors who came together to work on living more sustainably,” explains Executive Director, Casey Valencia.
MUD 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 their community and the planet.
ORG In Action Spotlight: MUD Project
Since 1981, MUD’s workshops have provided Missoulians with hands-on experiences in self-reliance. Their workshops teach topics that help you live lighter on the land and lighter on your budget.
Today, MUD has four key components at its core – the tool library, sustainable living workshops, their demonstration site and projects. All four components are designed to make creating a more sustainable community accessible and attainable for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status or skill level.
With over 3,000 tools available, MUD’s tool library is one of the many ways they are contributing to a more sustainable society. Once someone signs up for a MUD membership, they gain access to the full tool library, consisting of everyday tools and equipment, to assist in their home projects. MUD’s theory is that these tools should be a resource to everyone in the community and have a life after the completion of one project. By offering members this resource they are also making it more accessible for people that may not be able to afford to purchase their own tools, to undertake projects that could improve their way of life. The tool library also serves as one of the main ways people throughout the community engage with MUD. They regularly reach out to partners, businesses, and individuals in the community that may have old tools they aren’t using or ones that need refurbishing to donate to MUD. They will take these tools, and do any repairs necessary to give them another life.
But MUD goes beyond offering their community access to these tools, they are also committed to providing the training needed to put these tools to good use. They do this through a series of workshops, such as carpentry, beer making, and auto-mechanics. One of the most successful workshop series has been their women led workshops. In these workshops, MUD members of all levels can learn from experts in these fields and get valuable hands-on experience. Often, these workshops are a direct response to the training that individuals from their community are asking for.
MUD also knows that the best way to teach those within their community what a sustainable lifestyle looks like is to lead by example. Located off of Wyoming Street in Missoula, their grounds are made up of refurbished shipping containers, which are home to their offices and tool library. They run off of solar energy and have even advised others around Missoula and beyond how to repurpose similar containers for offices and housing. Their grounds are also home to a thriving urban garden and glass aggregate pathways that come directly from recycled glass in Missoula.
While MUD puts an emphasis on connecting with their local community and needs, they don’t stop there. They know there is a need and demand for tool libraries and organizations like theirs across the U.S. and beyond. Because of their website and the impact they are having, individuals come to MUD to learn about how they can adopt this model in their own backyard, and MUD is happy to lend a helping hand.
“Every community should have an organization like MUD.” says MUD member Anita Huslin.
Learn more at https://mudproject.org/.