People to Watch: Big Ideas: Alex Bandar

By Columbus Alive
From the August 1, 2013 edition

Alex Bandar is a man who had a big idea about ideas.

“I thought it would be great if you could sample a buffet of ideas rapidly,” Bandar said about the Columbus Idea Foundry, a complicated project he succinctly sums up as “we either make things or we teach people how to make things.”

The Idea Foundry is a community workshop where participants can take hands-on classes that all revolve around making. It’s part of a bourgeoning national “maker movement” that Bandar says “makes it easier for a creative to realize their ideas.”

So if you want to learn, say, blacksmithing, but don’t have access to tools or know-how, the Columbus Idea Foundry can help. A $35 monthly membership fee gives you access to all kinds of expensive tools and lets you tap into people who know how to use them.

With some help from a $350,000 grant, the Idea Foundry will be moving in to what Bandar calls “the most exciting neighborhood in Columbus,” Franklinton. They’ll be upgrading from their current 25,000-square-foot building just off of East Fifth Avenue to a 60,000-square-foot warehouse in Franklinton.

“Jim Sweeney of the Franklinton Development Association said, ‘Hey, we like what you’re doing, and we want you to do it in Franklinton,’” Bandar said. “And it looks like we’ll be doing that.”

In a neighborhood that is in the midst of a tireless revitalization, the Idea Foundry fits like a glove. “Franklinton has been a pet project of (Mayor Michael Coleman), and when you have an organization that is pro-art, pro-education, pro-business … no one can object to that.”

Bandar has a bevy of ideas for the future of the Foundry (three words: ROBOT FIGHT CLUB!), but wherever it goes, we’ll be watching.