A Community Celebration Goes Virtual and We Honour the Toronto Tool Library

It’s snowing and the end of year is in the air as innovators across our community wrap up their work. At CSI, December usually brings our end-of-year holiday party, an all-out bash famous for its cocktail and cookie competitions and busy dance floor. Despite the challenges of being physically distant this year, we weren’t about to give up on a ritual. On December 18th we brought together over 250 of our nearest and dearest to celebrate community resilience in a year that showed us just how important community is. 

The 3rd Annual BowTie Award for Exceptional Community Leadership 

Named for former Executive Director Adil Dhalla’s proclivity for community leadership (and a certain kind of neck adornment), the BowTie Award honours community builders by recognizing their work. Thanks to 2019 BowTie recipient Linda Odnokon for helping us recognize the work of the Toronto Tool Library (TTL) by presenting them the award.

Celebratory image featuring a black bowtie and gold glitter with CSI logo in the bottom right corner. White text reads: Congratulations Toronto Tool Library. 2020 BowTie Award recipients for exceptional community leadership

To illustrate all TTL has done this year, CSI’s Chief Community Officer, Shona Fulcher and Facilities Manager, Matt Gutherie, put it this way: 

“When the Toronto Tool Library was forced to close their doors back in March, true to form, they sprang into action. Using the many tools at their disposal a small group of determined staff and members began 3D printing face shields and splitting valves for ventilators to distribute to hospitals. Since these intrepid makers couldn’t be together in the maker space, their team brought the work home with them, 3D printing life-saving equipment day and night in their own homes. Executive Director Tim Willison biked the city to pick up these vital parts, sanitized them in their workspace, and biked them out to the hospitals for delivery. To date they have made over 800 face shields, protecting health care workers here at home and in hospitals as far away as Ukraine.

Two makers stand behind a plexiglass shield at the Toronto Tool Library.

Seeing a need, the team pivoted again to produce affordable shields for businesses across Toronto. In the CSI spaces, every plexiglass shield you see was built on one of their CNC machines by maker Marc Shu-Lutman.

This was not an easy year for the resilient Tool Library team. They made the tough decision to permanently close their location on St. Clair and were forced to consolidate their operations solely to their CSI Spadina location. But they didn’t let these setbacks slow them down for long. By the summer, the Tool Library reopened both their makerspace and the lending library. And Makerspace Manager, Jeniffer Cote once again began offering classes to aspiring woodworkers. 

With the most recent shut down they are showing their ingenuity again! Their team of experts moved online offering instructional videos on their Youtube channel helping to keep our hands busy and our minds healthier while still lending out tools via curbside pick up.

So, in recognition of your commitment to the power of community. And for everything you’ve done for this community, health care workers, and people all over the city of Toronto, we are honoured to present CSI’s 2020 BowTie award to the Toronto Tool Library!


Thank you Tim Willison, Marc Shu-Lutman, Jennifer Cote and the whole TTL team. We couldn’t be prouder.” 

You threw a virtual party for over 250 people?

Well, yeah. We did. And you know what? It was pretty great! We used a new conferencing software called Gather.town that gamifies the online party experience, letting us create a virtual CSI world, and giving guests the ability to pop in and out of video chats as they moved around the space. Goodbye Zoom fatigue! 

Party-goers gathered with colleagues across a virtual CSI Annex space filled with the familiar and fantastic. Member organizations like Cycle Toronto and Ontario Council for International Cooperation (OCIC) hosted their own volunteer and staff gatherings in private, custom-built spaces. Guests found artwork created during our Art and Art History Club sessions displayed in the Annex vault. And old friends ran into one another searching the starry skies for cookies on our soon-to-be-legendary Cookie Quest (a nod to our annual member cookie competition). 

Gather.town platform

Some innovators settled into the Moon Room for individual coaching sessions with our mysterious Tarot Reader Lady V while others pulled up a virtual stool to learn how to make the perfect Holiday Drink with Chief Technology officer Jane Zhang and Temperance Cocktails in our workshop studio. Then we honoured the Toronto Tool Library and opened up the dance floor for a killer set with the incredible DJ Ameel. 

It was a blast and we were so glad to have you all back together here in our (online) space. 

We’ll be exploring more with our virtual convening in the months to come. Get in touch to learn about CSI programming and everything it means to be a CSI Member!  

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