It all started when...
In 2008, on a trip to Antarctica, James Bray's concern for the future of our environment was quickly overturned with inspiration. He was chosen for an exclusive trip, Robert Swan's Leadership on The Edge program, along with 12 other AkzoNobel employees. It was an experience that changed his life.
As he watched the ice caps melt in one of the coldest places in the world, James Bray knew he had to make a change. With only three EBases existing in the world, James had access to the one located in Antarctica during this expedition. Robert Swan, arctic explorer and environmental leader, lived comfortably out of the EBase he created in Antarctica simply using solar power. This idea stuck with James on his way back to America, as he thought of solutions for the environment's worsening conditions.
James took what he learned from the leadership program and set to work. The partnership with Peter Lewis and Apple Ridge Farm fell together quickly. The mission of Apple Ridge Farm aligned with James' vision to instill environmental awareness into the lives of young people in the Roanoke area. Together, this mission grew stronger as James, AkzoNobel, and Apple Ridge Farm worked to fulfill a dream.
It took over 4 years to fully renovate the 1917 box car which now houses EBase USA - Blue Ridge at Apple Ridge Farm. With the contributions of the Roanoke chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society and James Bray's dedication and inspiration, EBase USA is now accessible to Apple Ridge Farm campers and other students in the region. Educational programs are being developed for school groups and other organizations to be able to experience the EBase as well.
"The focus of this is the kids. The future leaders and showing them what's possible," James reiterates.
The off-the-grid classroom has 10 computers, working lights, a television, and air conditioning that is powered by 18 solar panels and a wind turbine. These resources combined with the growing minds of our youth are bound to make an impact on the rest of the world.