[by Kendra Hovey]
If you were at the last TEDxColumbus, you might remember Alex Bandar, the “visionary, metallurgist, connector” in the black jumpsuit determined to revive the lost art of making. In his talk, Bandar shared the big idea of the Columbus Idea Foundry (CIF) and his big dream to put it on wheels, park it at a high school and begin to transform American education and, along the way, American thinking, industry and innovation.
But the Idea Foundry is about more than a big idea. As the name suggests, lots of ideas come out of CIF, and in all sorts of sizes. One that Bandar had been bandying about—along with cohorts David and Carrie Chew—became a reality last March. A new conversation community with follow-up built-in, Convergence, as the realized idea is called, is a touch TEDx, but a bit more Kickstarter meets American Idol meets Royal Society of London (minus the wigs…sadly). The event is open to the public and due to repeat every three months or so. The purpose is to converge to examine “theories, struggles, and possibilities” for projects and then make those projects financially doable (by actually laying money on the table) and accountable, as well as, potentially continually supported (by following-up at the next Convergence).
There are some guidelines: The project must be “deemed bigger than a single person”; it should be “group-oriented so that members and potential members can learn beyond their expertise”; and the winner must report back on “how the project went, what worked, what didn’t, and what can be learned.”
The very first Convergence was held on March 1st at the Foundry—just off 5th Ave., where Corrugated Way meets Mobility. With the support of Turnstone and TEDxColumbus, the evening started and ended with tours, presentations, food and general socializing. In the middle, three Foundry members shared their projects. Then, the 100 or so in attendance had the opportunity to vote with their dollars. On the table that night: about $700 (an additional $600 or so was raised for the Cougar Robotics Team, a local high school robotics club).
Of the three projects presented…
- A plan by steam-engine enthusiast Chip Rosenblum to build a dual-gauge train track.
- A LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) upgrade for Ethan Dicks’ “tourbot” (a remote-controlled camera, microphone and monitor).
- And, from event co-founder and co-organizer David Chew, a kinetic blue tree sculpture to be made of various sized pipes, possibly with “flame effects,” and to be outfitted with tree-dwelling creatures that could be controlled with switches and bellows by the audience.
…the win goes to…the kinetic blue tree sculpture.