AIRE is very happy to welcome RIDG as a new project and creative partner, bringing with it some new thinking and important perspectives about energy. Bucky Black is the chief instigator, dreamer, and doer behind RIDG. Although AIRE has always focused on energy generation, we know that conservation is foundational to everything. In fact, we like the notion of “thrift” that was surely once a virtue. Regrettably, thrift is now a pejorative, and has been supplanted by the technocentric belief that we can have anything we want. “Planned obsolescence” is a fancy phrase that normalizes the inherent waste in the economy. If “things” can be designed to break, we can design ways to give them second life right now. If we can do that, we can also design new ways of thinking. RIDG aims to do both. Right now it’s mostly one initiative at a time as capacity permits.
For example, a local specialty candy manufacturer had tons of raw ingredients that were never used in its manufacturing and destined for the landfill, so RIDG researched the possibility of waste conversion to biofuel, partnering with the chemistry department at Appalachian State University. That use didn’t pan out, but the discovery was that it worked beautifully as a honey bee food. Tons less landfill waste and the honey bees love it. The big vision is to take an idea like maker spaces and expand it beyond literal physical space into full-fledged, participatory, cooperative social and ecological designer mindsets.