Ryan Conway. Photo by James Kellar

Ryan Conway. Photo by James Kellar


The idea of tool sharing came to Charis Heisey almost immediately in the dark hours after the suicide of her friend, Bloomington metal sculptor G. Glenn Carter.

Carter was 51 when he died on December 9, 2014. He had done metal work for 20 years — a self-taught artist whose work was displayed at regional shows, primarily in Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville, Indiana. He was fascinated with nature, his friends say. They describe his naturalistic renditions of animals and also creatures carved out of his own imagination.

“Every one of us who loved him has spent hours in his workshop watching amazing things happen with his art,” says Heisey.

Another friend, Ryan Conway, says Carter struggled with addictions earlier in his life and was homeless for a while. But he became politically vocal, took part in the local Occupy Movement, and advocated for homeless people and for more recovery and treatment facilities here.

Heisey had read about the success of community tool sharing projects in other cities. “It was just the obvious answer to what to do with his tools. We reached out to his parents (Jeanette and Earl Carter of Indianapolis) and they agreed to donate his tools,” she says.

Within less than a year, his friends formed the Glenn Carter Memorial Toolshare, organized as a nonprofit under the Center for Sustainable Living, 245 W. Grimes Lane, its legal sponsoring agency. The tool share is one of the center’s Share Bloomington projects and will be housed at the center.

Glenn Carter. Courtesy photo

Glenn Carter. Courtesy photo

“For his friends, it’s been a creative grieving process,” says Conway, 31, an Indiana University graduate student who organized the tool share with Heisey. “Every time we work on this, I remember him in a positive way, and that outshines the loss and grief of losing him so early.”

Carter’s hundreds of tools for industrial and home use include those from his specialized metal-working collection, as well as general tools, such as wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers. As some were rusty and in disrepair, the group received a $1,000 grant from the City of Bloomington’s Martin Luther King Jr. A Day On! Not a Day Off! campaign to organize volunteers to clean and remove rust from the tools.

Organizers expect to open the tool share this summer as a low-barrier, high-accessibility lending library where people can borrow tools for free or for a small fee.

“We want to help people from all walks of life and economic circumstances to find a way to build their skills and to help meet their needs,” says Conway. “Glenn would have wanted this.”