Alex Bandar, founder of the Columbus Idea Foundry, pens a letter to the Columbus maker community about their expansion. To schedule a tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eight years ago, a few of us started the Idea Foundry in an old garage, propelled by the belief that not only can we achieve more working together than on our own, but it’s more fun, too. Since then we’ve grown from a handful of members to several hundred; and from that first small space to a 60,000 square feet converted shoe factory in Franklinton.
In just a few days (Sept. 17-18), several thousand folks will descend into our neighborhood for the annual Independents’ Day Festival – a two-day celebration of the music, art, performances, food and fun that personifies Columbus’ creative spirit. As a result, we thought this was the perfect time to talk about some amazing changes underway at the Foundry, clarify what we’re all about (we recognize that we’re a novel beast, and not everyone knows exactly what it is that we do), and to personally invite you to stop by, take a tour, and get a first-hand look at our new, burgeoning space.
We are a community of makers.
Over the past decade, a new paradigm of learning, building, and self-agency has emerged, aided in large part by the fusion of online education, open source design software, easy-to-use tools like 3D printers, and crowd-funding resources. In this new world, things as diverse as physical products, digital apps, or even businesses can now be created overnight. And if you add to that a community of friendly and talented teachers, techies, artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs – bound by the shared belief that communal-learning coupled to a living laboratory can optimize personal achievement – well, then suddenly, it’s easier than ever to bring new ideas to life.
That’s the heart of the Idea Foundry. We’re a community of makers for whom making can be woodworking or welding; 3D printing or electronics; programming or graphic arts; sewing or robotics; creating a business or a non-profit. We are a portal to a world of opportunities in design, technology, education, and entrepreneurship – accessed both in our physical space and via a virtual landscape beyond it.
Our Franklinton home is expanding.
Fueled by a recent investment (thank you, Hatch), we’re renovating our giant 25,000 square foot second floor – installing 30 offices for startups, a coworking space with dozens of rentable desks, a beautiful open floor plan, events areas, classroom spaces, private conference rooms, a communal kitchen, a photo/audio/video studio, a rooftop patio and much more. We’re also expanding our class offerings! Now that we’ll have comfortable, large, dust-free, noise-free, climate-controlled spaces and classrooms in which to teach, we’re looking to offer a wider variety of arts and crafts; more 2D, 3D, and 4D design; new electronics and programming resources; improved business and marketing classes, and anything else that can empower our members, their ideas, their products, and their businesses.
Imagine what you can do here.
Imagine a place where you are encouraged to learn whatever you want, when you want, how you want. Where it’s easy to find a cup of coffee, fiber optic internet, physical and digital tools (from a table saw to a virtual reality lab), experienced teachers and mentors, maybe even a “workout partner” for your project. At the very least, you’ll find a family of folks who will cheer you on as you slog towards your goals, and celebrate your successes when you achieve them. We’ll host resources and people to create media for blogging, marketing, Kickstarter videos, or just for giggles. A space with an intimate amphitheater for frequent and spirited exchanges of ideas, as well as a 150-person formal events area with an interactive projection wall, where we can host a local conversation in Columbus, or invite people from all around the world to speak to us, to listen to us, to converse and ideate with us. In this way, we’re not just passively learning from the web, we can broadcast back to the world the exciting things going on in Columbus. Add to this mix ping pong tables, movie nights, happy hours, barbecues, and all the fun that occurs organically when creative folks hang out together, and you have not just a place where people can be productive, but a place where people want to be.
Help us make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
We’re building a brick-and-mortar facility that houses tools and a community around them. It’s not a school, but we learn and teach together. It’s not a factory, but we build things. It’s not a business incubator, but we foster entrepreneurship. It’s not a function hall, but we host events. It’s not a library, but we cherish knowledge. It’s not a social club, but we make a lot of mischief. The term we use today is makerspace, but that doesn’t capture everything we see happening under our roof, and the impact beyond our walls. It’s a portal to the resources of the world, a gathering place for us locally, a workshop of tools, a software development laboratory, and most importantly, a common bond that all of our members share – that it’s empowering, gratifying, exciting, moving, and fun to make stuff, and to hang out with people who feel the same, and we’re lucky to live in a world where it’s getting easier every day to do both.
Tell us what you want.
We believe the Idea Foundry can serve as a platform, a vehicle for individual growth, and we’d like to invite you to tell us what you want to learn, do, create, share, teach, enjoy. We’d love to create a network that allows people to connect their needs with resources and skills in the city. And we want this to be accessible and sustainable. And as we succeed, as our collective brand grows, we will be better able to support our member businesses, artists, and educators. Our megaphone will be yours. Your success will be our pride. Together we will be a helluva lot greater than the sum of our parts, and we’ll see how high a tide we can raise to lift all of our ships.
Alex Bandar, Founder/CEO, The Idea Foundry
Learn more at columbusideafoundry.com.
To schedule a tour, email email@example.com.