Thursday, February 24, 2011

Urban Repurposing

I got excited the other day when I heard that Kodak, the company that built Rochester's economy in the early 20th century by bringing photography to the masses, is thinking about getting in to the solar cell business. I got excited because I’m gearing up to create a “Rochester 2020” map for the Imagine RIT Festival and I’ve been making a list of organizations in town who are engaged in repurposing. (To repurpose is transform the stuff that we already have instead of replace it with new stuff.) Sadly Kodak wasn’t on my list - boo! But now they are - yay! If this deal goes through, they will be repurposing their thin-film machines to bring another game-changing technology to the masses, this time solar cells. Go Kodak. Very cool.

I’m focusing on urban repurposing projects bc they are an elegant alternative to new building projects. Even though cities have a reputation for being environmental and social wastelands (thanks Charles Dickens), they are in fact ripe with potential for being some of the greenest and socially innovative places on the planet. As half of the world population now lives in urban settings, it’s important that we design these places thoughtfully and sustainably. 

There’s a ton of repurposing going on in this city, the city of #ROC. I’ve written a bit about Foodlink on this blog as they are already knee deep in urban repurposing and redistributing. They redistribute discarded food to organizations who feed hungry people. They repurpose food-waste into fuel. They repurpose school lunch programs and kitchens so they can serve locally grown food. And just recently they began refurbishing old electronics for people who can use them.

Add to this list the Rochester Active Transport Group . They are repurposing old bikes and old train paths to create a human-powered transport system. And then there are National repurposing organizations that have local sectors like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The ReStore gathers, fixes up, and then sells used household parts and appliances. And my very favorite repurposing initiative is called Park[ing] Day, a day in September when artists and activists reclaim urban parking spots by transforming them into mini parks, beach chairs and all.

If you have a favorite repurposing project or an idea for one, then I’d love to hear about it. Comment or tweet me @xanthm

1 comment:

  1. UPDATE: Poet John Roche shared this local repurposing project with me in an email to me. So great.
    The Handmade Orchestra


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