To close out the week, I want to direct your attention to something fun, exciting, and important that’s happening on Buffalo’s east side. Located at 298 Northampton Street not far from Main Street, the Foundry could be described as a low-tech incubator, of sorts. It started out last spring to create something new out of other people’s trash – materials would be salvaged and picked to reduce waste and reuse things that still had useful life.
Last May, a small group of folks moved into a recently vacated building on the East Side of Buffalo. We were passionate about using reclaimed and salvaged materials, found objects and trash-picked treasures to create new things, to create new opportunities for average people with a skill, some motivation, and a dream.
The Foundry is whatever its members need it to be; a workshop, an office, a studio, a community space, and a place for imagination and creativity in a oft-forgotten neighborhood. Some of the entrepreneurs and artisans making up the Foundry include:
- Azariah’s Innocence – All natural hair care products, bath bombs, body butters, and lip balms. www.azariahsinnocence.com
- Buffalo Bottle Craft — Fine glassware made from reclaimed bottles.thefoundrybuffalo.org/residents/buffalobottlecraft/
- Buffalo Lab — A community of technology enthusiasts who share resources, knowledge, and interests. http://www.buffalolab.org
- Joseph DePrima — Hobby Craft Brewer. Delicious!
- ReUse Action — Green demolition, material salvage, and building restoration.www.reuseaction.com
- Nickel City Cycles — Custom bicycle frames. thefoundrybuffalo.org/nickelcitycycles/
- Metal Sculpture & Custom Built Projects by Sarah Fonzi and Gerald Paterson. thefoundrybuffalo.org/sgstudios/
- Rusted Grain — Woodworking using reclaimed materials. www.rustedgrain.com
- Red Headed Designs – Stunning furniture restoration www.redheadeddesigns.com
- Metal Working by Sun Mones.
- COMING SOON: Petrichorpaper, a New Paper Mill
But in order better to fulfill its mission, the Foundry need support – both personal and financial. If you don’t have money to donate, they can use your time and knowledge. It’s not just about empowering people to fulfill their dreams, but about creating a better economic future for a community. On the Second Saturday of every month, the Foundry opens itself up to the public, and you can watch participants do their work, buy their wares, explore and get involved. You can get everything from hand-made soaps to salvaged church pews. There’s coffee, beer, welders, weavers, and glass blowers.
In its first year of existence, the Foundry has accomplished the following:
- Created ten studios equipped with the necessary specialized tools for each craft.
- Completed a 3,000 square foot addition to expand the building’s footprint.
- Outfitted a technology lab, a woodworking shop and a metalworking studio with necessary tools and equipment.
- Reached agreement with the landlord to purchase The Foundry.
With Community Support, the Foundry:
- Leveraged hundreds of hours of volunteer labor from residents and supporters to clean, organize, and create new spaces.
- Future fiber arts studio has been outfitted by a generous donation by Daemen College.
- With help from a National Grid grant, the Foundry upgraded all the first floor lights to high efficiency lighting fixtures.
- With commitment of in-kind support from the Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 669, the Foundry is upgrading its entire fire protection system.
- Created a master build-out plan, pro-bono, with architect Anne Dafchik to accommodate more residents, a community venue and spaces for our kitchen, cafe and a future restaurant.
The Foundry contributed to the community around it by,
- Hosting Buffalo’s Torn Space Theatre’s production, “He Who Gets Slapped”.
- Hosting Vermont’s world famous Bread and Puppet Theater, Adam Ende and Puerto Rico’s Puppeteers Poncili Company.
- Serving as a location for local film production “Give and Take”.
- Initiating the Second Saturday at The Foundry series, and hosting Second Saturdays every month since May 2012
- Holding a series of free workshops, classes, and trainings for community members.
- Providing meaningful, hands-on internships for City Honors and Nichols students.
- Mobilizing 50 volunteers to plant 150 trees in the Masten Park Neighborhood.
By working together and engaging in the community, the people behind the Foundry believe that they can have a bigger impact than by acting individually.
The Foundry is looking to raise $30,000 to make some important changes and upgrades to its physical plant, including
- The fire protection system: The Foundry’s effort received a huge boost with an in-kind donation from Davis Ulmer Sprinkler Company for a design of our new system. The Sprinkler Fitters union is helping by getting apprentices involved in completing most of the work. The Foundry still needs to float the materials, and it’s big. $15,000.
- Steel Staircases, Fire Doors and Firewalls: To access the second floor and open up twelve additional studios for new residents. $13,200.
- Heating System: The Foundry has its sights set on a new energy-efficient furnace that will heat the facility with waste fuel. $12,500.
- Windows and Doors: As Buffalo Lab works to implement the property’s keyless access system, they need to upgrade numerous doors in the building and open up windows that have long been blocked in. $1,750.
- Electrical System Upgrades and Improvements: all the ground level lighting has been switched to high efficiency fixtures, but they need to complete the second level, and additional wiring improvements throughout the building. $3,500.
- Safety, signage, security system: $ 1,200.
- Plan review and permitting: $750.
The maintenance and development of the building will be largely supported through revenues generated by space rental to emerging entrepreneurs, artisans, and small business owners. The Foundry strives to strike a balance between offering affordable spaces for all its residents while also making sure the building can sustain itself well into the future.
Rent for participating entrepreneurs includes utilities, access to community workspaces (wood shop, glass shop, metal shop, office space), access to a growing inventory of reclaimed materials that can be utilized for projects, and first priority on professional and skill development classes.
The Foundry is running an Indiegogo fundraising effort right now to help it meet its immediate financial goals. You can check it out and contribute by clicking here. There’s 9 days left in its fundraising efforts, and it’s 1/3 of the way towards meeting its goal.
The Foundry Website: www.thefoundrybuffalo.org
Net Positive, The Foundry’s sponsoring organization: www.netpositivefoundation.org