Dec 092010
 
Authors: Elizabeth Drolet

At first glance, the Hammer Time facility could be mistaken for an abandoned warehouse at the eastern end of Laurel Street –– an unsuspecting person could drive right by.

During the nighttime hours, the chain link fence surrounding the shop could make a great background for a horror film.
But upon setting foot into the disguised building, one can find a much friendlier atmosphere. The warmly lit room, a couple of comfy couches and a group of helpful people make for a welcoming experience.

Hammer Time, the newly established info shop, tool cooperative and potential free store provides a way for anyone to get building materials, tools, information and free stuff in exchange for volunteer. Patrons can also donate money for building materials.

The shop has about a dozen members and a variety of resources, including trained volunteers who come in for instruction.

The co-op also offers around a thousand books on subjects from radical literature –– which was described as literature not found in mainstream media –– to fiction, each labeled and sectioned neatly in the large tool co-op-made bookshelves.

“It’s a place where our community can get to know each other, build relationships and build their lives,” member Garrett Carr said. “It’s a way to feel closer to your product and know exactly what’s in it.”

Volunteer time can include, but is not limited to, sorting and cleaning around the shop, participating in outreach programs or volunteering to help people during open hours.

Hammer Time has not officially been established as a non-profit business, but those involved with the shop prefer the term organization –– as opposed to a business ––because “in businesses people become very disconnected to their work, but in an organization there is a cooperative group of people working together and maintaining a human relationship in their products and work,” Carr said.

The organization also exemplifies this in their “horizontal power dynamic” by keeping an equal delegation of power throughout members. Due to the anti-hierarchical structure within the co-op, all members’ votes are weighed equally, and there are no head members.

Hammer Time’s hours of operation or “general bad-ass work parties” occur Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays from 12 to 8 p.m.

On Oct. 25, the city of Fort Collins Community Development and Neighborhood Services had a conceptual review meeting for the organization concerning restraints of land use and zoning.

According to the Hammer Time website, in October a city zone inspector was sent for inspections “based on a complaint that there were shows, fires, people living in the warehouse, dogs running around the neighborhood and late night sword fights, etc.”

The site said none of the complaints were true, however, and that the group was there to simply “share tools, information, etc.”

While the rumor of late night sword fighting was never confirmed, the sharing of tools and information was still in need of compliance with the city’s land use standards.

An auto repair shop originally occupied the Hammer Time shop –– so the land was originally zoned as commercially limited, only enabling the premises to be used for auto-shop intentions.

“Anytime a land use changes we have to look at the new use and make sure the site is brought into compliance with the land use code,” said City Planner Emma McArdle.

The conceptual review committee classified Hammer Time as a “mini storage” and “small custom industry.” These classifications will enable Hammer Time to allow the space to be used for the info-shop, tool co-op and free store projects.

“The co-op isn’t technically permitted in this zone district so we are using other definitions to fit it in,” McArdle said.

Staff writer Elizabeth Drolet can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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