The Great American Pixel


Funding A RoboCop Statue In Detroit

"They’ll fix you. They fix everything." - RoboCop

If you told me 48 hours ago that I’d be helping to fundraise for a statue of RoboCop I’d have told you you were nuts. But now you can tell me I’m nuts, because that’s exactly what’s happening. You can donate to the project on Kickstarter, or share the link detroitneedsrobocop.com with your friends, family, and affiliate stations. 

I won’t belabor the public story because a lot of you here have probably read or heard it elsewhere. If you haven’t yet, take a listen to John Leonard (who created the ongoing Build a statue of RoboCop in Detroit Facebook event) and myself on The Craig Fahle Show on WDET Detroit Public Radio yesterday morning. Lots of perspective and depth and a diversity of views from callers:

Let me give you some personal back story. Those who follow the work I do with LOVELAND know that we tirelessly experiment with new ways to put Detroit online and invent new ways to crowd fund projects. I believe that a healthy Detroit is a Detroit that’s back on the regional, national, and global network; with open borders; with more people, money, things, and attention moving freely into and out of the city. I believe that will lead to more general, positive, systematic change in Detroit, beyond treating isolated symptoms. 

This spills over into my work with the Imagination Station, where we’re trying to create a nonprofit campus to support public art, technology, and community engagement. Recently, an artist who had planned to install a major new work on the campus had their grant funding disappear. Ugh. The foundational idea behind the public art space was to have a new work go up every season, and after amazing summer and fall pieces, winter was in jeopardy.  

Enter RoboCop, who came on the scene at the right time to get behind. And let me be very clear: Imagination Station is playing a role in helping facilitate the process, not claiming the work, which is the energy and resources of many many people.

It’s an incredibly exciting project to support given my interests and the mission of the projects I’m involved in. It has global, local, technological, artistic, and crowd funding components absolutely baked into it. PLUS! The energy! I’m sorry to say that it can be exceedingly difficult to get people excited about supporting the kinds of things that people say we should be supporting instead of a RoboCop statue. LOVELAND has helped fundraise for a diversity of causes: art supplies for children, architectural repair, Detroit documentaries, and more. So far we’ve basically existed to give money away while building powerful new software to help people, and trying to pay rent on the side. 

As I sometimes embarrassingly tell my parents when they check in on my month-to-month lifestyle and currently monetarily-undervalued career: “Mom, I’m way too busy working to make money right now.”

It’s often frustrating when you look at the things people support or don’t. We’ve recently been re-structuring our entire platform and interface for Detroit (a starter interactive map is up at livinginthemap.us) so it’s more clear and real where projects fit into the city, and so that anyone can easily propose and fundraise for any type of project anywhere in Detroit that they’d like. To my mind, as frivolous and misguided a use of resources as it may currently appear to some (and, really, many), I can see a crowd funded RoboCop serving as an avatar that pushes people to think differently about solving problems and creating things on a scale they currently think is impossible, or that they’re waiting for rich people or government to do for them.

In a phrase: “If those crazy people can raise $50,000 to create a statue of freaking RoboCop, then certainly and without doubt we can raise even more (more money, more talent, more will power, more everything) to do something that we believe will make a real difference.”

And Amen to that! I could not agree more. So please forgive us if you’re someone who doesn’t like the statue. There are a lot details to work out with its execution that may bring you to appreciate the statue itself (precise location, pose, plaque, etc), and even if you never like it, there’s every opportunity to use the processes that are creating it to create anything that’s in your mind and heart.

For those that want to support the effort right now, hang a click over this:

3 years ago

February 11, 2011
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