I Do Something.

Detroit Ice Squirrel and Motor City Bad Ass, cataloging the series of *somethings* I do.

Mar 4

Support Something

Lately we’ve been getting into all sorts of trouble.

Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t of the Imagination Station's recent efforts to build a statue of RoboCop in Detroit. So, yep, that’s us. 

We recognized early on that this was a project with more energy than anything we had really ever seen. And to reach our fundraising goal in just 5 short days, that was nothing short of exhilarating. The largest sum we had previously raised for one cause was $5’000, RoboCop was 10x that. 

As it stands we have raised over $64’000 and have upwards of 2’500 individual backers.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns though. Detroit is a rather binary city. And not everyone likes RoboCop.

There has been a lot of very productive discussion around RoboCop, even if it doesn’t have much to to with the statue itself. There has also been a lot of unproductive discussion. I will take a moment to describe unproductive discussion: 1) any question that has been answered by members of the Imagination Station team a number of times but is asked repeatedly only because the questioner does not agree with the answer given. 2) Good-Old-Fashioned name-calling, which has come in the form of Facebook posts and the occasional aggressive text message. Which, hey guys, p.s. I *do* get a warm, fuzzy, safe feeling when I see the police and if *that* continues I just want you to know that I am ALL ABOUT restraining orders. :)

I’m not going to spend much more time on that other than to say if you have something to say, please, please call me 734-552-2438.

What I feel has been terribly valuable about RoboCop is the learning experience that we have had on how to handle something with such a meteoric energy behind it.

One of our *prime directives* at LOVELAND is creating easy ways for people to post and fund projects that they care about. We’ve started a geographically based payment platform as one of the features of Living In The Map

And we are continuing to build on those ideas and features. One of the most important things that we know about crowd-source fundraising that has only been driven home by the RoboCop project is that in order to succeed, a project has to be interesting. 

Part of creating that interest is building a straight forward model that persuades people to care about a project. Finding that spot between super-fun and super-serious is difficult, but we’re working on it. 

What we ultimately want to see out of RoboCop is the harnessing of all of that (go ahead admit it) international attention and have it focused on to Detroit in a way that highlights all the positive that is going on. 

I mean you can think of RoboCop as a joke, if you want to. But the way I see it is even if you see all of this as a joke. EMBRACE it! Make it your own. Mayor Bing, sit down with Peter Weller and invite him into your city, or hell, put him on the “no fly” list. 

But nothing is gained by fighting your neighbors.

I’m going to sign off with something Robo-Positive and light-hearted. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Peter Weller:

RoboCop Speaks to Detroit from Peter Weller

Jan 25

Logging Into Detroit (A Teaser)


LOVELAND is very close to releasing version 1.0 of our map of Detroit, dubbed Living in the Map. Larry’s been hacking on it hard like a drunkard with a broadsword and stitching it up sweetly like a hummingbird after heart surgery (sorry, been drinking coffee). If you’d like to take an early look and let us know what you think, email me at jerry@makeloveland.com and I’ll hit you in the next couple days.

Here’s a real quick taste of what we’ve got running. When you pull up the map you see the entire city broken down either by zip code:

…or cluster (the same clusters being used for the Detroit Works Project):

When you click an area you drill down to see every single land parcel that composes it, along with ownership information which appears instantly on mouse-over. Every zip and cluster has its own profile, basic data, and “wall” ala Facebook. If you comment or like or follow a place, you’ll get updates on it, etc:

The parcels are the backbone of the map on which we’re building more features and visualizations. We want to take it slow and test for different use-cases knowing this badboy can expand in many directions and, proficient though we may be at it, we don’t want to make things messy or overextend ourselves.

The way we’re currently strategizing this (we love strategery) is to roll out very basic city-wide features and data by the end of the week, and then focus on one neighborhood, Corktown, as the place to prototype and test things that will roll out widely once people like them and they work well.

This ties in with Imagination Station’s proposal to develop a community engagement program for Corktown that uses the map as an organizing framework. Planned features include things like reporting problems directly to the city with one click (street lights out, dumping, etc), creating fundraisers (ex: we need to raise $500 to make this lot a garden), and additional layers like neighborhood stories, local projects, businesses, volunteer opportunities, etc.

If you want to read the current About page we’re working on, head below the proverbial fold. We could not be more excited about oh the places this map will go, and I’ve left a bunch of things out here, but whatever, as they say in France: Le under-promise and le over-deliver.

Just one last pic of the parcels crashing on the shores of 8 Mile, how pretty they are:

Read More

Jan 13

Something Good out of Something Scary

First, I want to thank everyone who sent good thoughts, vibes, words, and prayers my way. 

I heard back from my doctor at the University of Michigan yesterday and I received the best news possible. No signs of ongoing renal inflammation. This means I will be operating at full capacity. AWESOME. 

Here’s a photo Jerry snapped of me in recovery:

I’m also going to share a small portion of the last email my doctor sent me.

I read about Loveland in the NYT, but didn’t connect you to the Mary Lorene Carter ….You are doing great work, I am impressed by your guts and creativity.”

Pretty cool? I think so. 

In other news, the Knight Foundation grant that the Imagination Station applied for recently has been chosen to move on in the second round of the application process (read the initial proposal)! Keep your fingers crossed for us! We’re all working hard to bring crazy fantastic new things to Corktown, Detroit, and well, really, everywhere. 

Thank you, again for all of the support! I am one healthy and ferocious Detroit Ice Squirrel, and I’m so happy that I get to work on and make amazing things with my teammates, family, and friends.

Jan 3

I Do Something Scary.

I generally keep my posts centered around the projects that I work on. And though I recognize that there may be a few incriminating photos of me on Facebook I try to use social media to promote interesting things and not personal ones, this is a rather personal post. So continue reading at your own risk. It may or may not be graphic in content and inappropriate for children, and the squeamish.

About five years ago I was diagnosed with Lupus. Which was, in the simplest of terms, not awesome. For someone who was petrified of needles, the blood work and biopsy were terrifying. Not to mention the following months of chemotherapy and steroid treatment.
[sample kidney biopsy cells]

After being the “worst case scenario” over and over for months I was finally told I was “in remission”.
Probably the biggest kick in the teeth was a year later discovering that my left femur had died as a result of corti-steroid treatment that I had undergone. So while I’m pretty bitter about not being able to go out for my morning runs anymore I was fairly happy with being “in remission”, and I’ll gladly take the handicapped parking that comes with the *zombie* bones. 

[sample zombie femur]

This fall I was alerted by one of my doctors that there was evidence of ongoing kidney inflammation from my lab work. This Wednesday I go in for my next biopsy.  Best case scenario: I pay $15’000 for a biopsy that shows I have residual kidney damage from my last flare-up. Worst case scenario: more chemical therapy and anti-body infusions. 
I have to admit that between doctors appointments, scheduling “procedures”, getting my medical records in order, and telling my mother ” it’s fine, we’ve done this before.”, I’ve been a little pre-occupied. 
However,  I have the best support system evar! <3 I have Jerry Giraffendork, who has promised his Wednesday to sit next to a sedated me (and take advantage of the amazing wi-fi University of Michigan’s hospital offers), my parents and five siblings will be circling, and I have amazing friends and teammates. 

I feel this post may be a little selfish.But, I also feel that it is necessary to document what my brain has been marinating in. For me there are no real lines; work, romance, education, recreation, family they are all the same thing. And for whatever it’s worth, I’ve taken the red pill, just to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Dec 31


Jerry's jumped back on the blogwagon. And inspired me to follow suit.

Lately Jerry’s brain has been consumed by possible vectors of LOVELAND evolution. I’m gonna go ahead and say that I’m partially to blame. We’ve been talking about these things a lot but never really getting traction. Until I (of all things) made him watch the Social Network.

In his former life Jerry had what I will call a “traditional” VC experience. Couple of guys in their 20s with a cool idea get a couple million dollars from some venture capitalists to make their idea happen. Everybody moves from Brooklyn (Silicon Ghetto) to San Fransisco (Silicon Valley), the VCs start staffing the team with their own people, midnight board meeting is held, and BOOM our hero arrives to work in the morning to find his stuff packed up and his office locked. 

Not exactly how it worked out for Mark Zuckerburg, but enough of the story lined up for Jerry.

Anyway the point of that long digression was that revisiting the problems that the Wello team encountered in the startup world started a line of thinking that is now informing the future of LOVELAND.

So we’ve been reading and re-reading and watching and re-watching interviews with some of these interwebz wiz-kidz and looking at what they’ve built and how they organized their company.

With the Imagination Station we’re taking advantage of the cold weather to get moving on the organizational end. And the design team is beginning to really kick some butt. If all goes well we should be able to hit the ground running this spring and get moving with some hardcore rehab. We’ve also applied for a grant through the Knight foundation which would allow us to focus on building out the community engagement aspects of LOVELAND’s Living In The Map tool. You can read our application here. (and vote for it too, we’re currently ranked #1!!! <3)

So what else? A couple of great partnerships!

We’re still working with LEMONADE: Detroit, and there’s just one day left to have your frames matched by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan…. so you put in $1, they put in $1, same goes for donations of any other amount! Which means this is a really cool way to help fund a really cool movie. And you get credited as a producer! Cool? Very. So buy a frame or two!

We’re also working with SUPERFRONT, a gallery out of Brooklyn and Los Angeles. They’re hosting a show called Detroit: a Brooklyn Case Study. This show opens in LA in January, will stay there for a few months and then make its way across the country to Detroit (where LOVELAND will host the exhibition!) and New York!! There’s even still a few days to support the exhibition through Kickstarter.

And we’re working with a number of groups that range from historical conservation, artists, entrepreneurs, to civic development to further populate Living In The Map in addition to the community engagement work we’re doing with the Imagination Station. So stay tuned for more updates. Larry is making mapping magic!

LOVELAND is growing! I’m always astounded by how big an inch actually is! <3

Sep 13


Detroit loves

Mary and Jerry from the Loveland project! http://makeloveland.com/

a take from todays catalogue shoot for Detroit Lives! 


Sep 12

Something Awesome at the Imagination Station!

Today we had a fantastic day at The Imagination Station!

We’ve been trying to get 2236 (Lefty) torn down for quite sometime… not quite there yet (more on that soon). But today we had a workday that we left feeling completely exhausted, damp, filthy, and oh, so good!

We were one of a couple sites for a large network of volunteers and ended up with about 50 people at the Imagination Station and Roosevelt Park. The people that came into our site were fun, interesting, passionate, and ridiculously productive! 

Our volunteers cleaned up the entirety of Roosevelt Park, weeded the gardens in front of the Train Station, tore out *all* of the drywall in Righty (2230 14th Street), AND got to watch our friends Ben and Andy pull down the back half of Lefty with a truck!

So a huge thanks to everyone who came out and worked at Roosevelt Park and The Imagination Station! A very special thank you to Ben and Andy, all of the media crew who came out to document…. Dan Land, Nick Farrell, Donna Terek, and Alan Languirand! Mad love to Catie Newell and her father for all of their work! Enormous thanks to Christ The King from Southgate, particularly Becky Buettner and Mitchell! And we don’t even know how to thank Phillip Cooley for the direction, resources, and ridiculous hard work! 

Our Volunteers.

Mary and the Media Makers!


Catie, our very rained on, yet still very cheerful, artist.

Thanks for making awesome things happen guys!

We’ll be back there tomorrow! So if you’re in the area (Dad, I’m calling you out!), we have plenty of work! 10am-5pm 2230 14th Street Detroit, Mi 48216…. See you there!

Aug 25

Something Exciting!

Here’s something.

A few weeks ago Jerry spoke on a panel at a PSFK event. At a pre-event meet-up we were introduced to another speaker for the event named Catie Newell

Jerry and I were really impressed and excited by her work, so much so that we asked her if she would create the second art work for the Imagination Station (the first being Marianne Audrey Burrows painting). What’s cooler is that she taken us up on our invite!

So here’s a few examples of the kind of work she’s done, right here, in Detroit!

Exciting? Absolutely.

Aug 2

Making Parties, Making Progress, Making Faire, Making Soup!

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog… even though it’s quite likely my only readers are Kyle, my Grandma Pat, and my Aunt Ruth. Still I don’t want to keep them in the dark….

About 2 weeks ago (July 17th) was the Big Inch Block Party, and it was an outrageous success! THANK YOU to EVERYONE who came out! Thank you so much to our sponsors: BetaWorks, McClure’s Pickles, Valentine Vodka, and idetroit! Thank you to Cafe D’Mongo’s and the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue for hosting! Thank you to the fantastic volunteering skillz of Jennifer Ruud, Nikki Barr, and our Inchtern Nicole Itkin! And thank you so much to our collaborators Rita J. King, Joshua S. Fouts, and Larry Sheradon for traveling so far to be here, having the whole team together for the first time was in itself a fantastic event!

We’ve also had huge progress at the Imagination Station. Last Thursday a team of about 40 young volunteers come out and totally rocked it!

They got the Roosevelt Hotel boarded up and completely gutted the second floor of the house we’re going to rehab at the Imagination Station. Such a volunteer effort is ridiculous exciting to be part of! 

The Maker Faire was this weekend too! Jerry, Alan, and I had so much fun. There were a ton of super awesome projects there. 

p.s. Yes, this car actually shot Twinkies.

Alan took a mobile version of Lemon Battery out into the faire and was able to document it, which is awesome, and probably the most comprehensive documentation of the event.

The excitement of Maker Faire was exhausting enough, but on top of that Jerry and I had to move Saturday night, and make 2 birthday parties too! 

Back to Maker Faire Sunday and then a very, very exhausted Mary and Jerry made their way to Detroit SOUP. Which is a really fantastic event put on monthly by our friend Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez. SOUP has a $5 admission which pays for your, well, soup. This admission reimburses the cooks and then the rest of the admission gets put towards a micro-grant. A handful of people present different projects that they work on that would benefit from a small grant, all of the SOUP attendees vote for which project they think would get the most out of the grant …. and you know, the most popular project gets the money. 

Last night a project to clean up Avery Park in Woodbridge got $300 for materials and supplies. Good luck to them! Detroit has a lot of very committed volunteers and I’m sure the park will look beautiful.

Jul 15

A Couple of Somethings.

Shwoo! We’ve been so busy that by the time I get anything drafted to post something else has happened and what I just wrote seems obsolete! :p

So real quick I gots a rundown for you of some of the stuffs going on….

Tomorrow Jerry and I are gonna jump into the Funzone and make the drive out to Akron to give a talk at the Arkon Art Museum. Cool? Very.

Then we race back to the D! Friday Josh, Rita, and Larry all get into town! Soooo excited to see them! 

Josh, Rita, Larry I’m calling you out! You ready to have your minds blown!

The occasion for their visit is The Big Inch Block Party that we’re hosting and holding at the Downtown Synagogue and Cafe D’Mongo’s! And now, I’m calling the rest of you out! Get you’re butts to the synagogue Saturday night for the best par-tay of all time evar, srsly. Everyone who attends is a Land owner! Video confessions of your visions for Detroit and LOVELAND will be taken! Lemon Battery will be happening! Marianne will be painting! The Detroit Party Marching Band will mayhaps make an appearance! The Reelers are gonna play! And those sweet kids from Lightning Love are gonna headline! Check the site for details and the Facebook event!

There’s one more day in the Monumental Kitty Kickstarter round! Get in on that! This is your last chance to get inches that build a sphinx in Corktown! 

We’re gonna be launching our next grant too! Stay tuned to find out who it is! (hint: it’s Spaulding Court) :)

AND! We’ve started a brand spankin’ new project! We’ve partnered with Jeff DeBruyn and purchased two houses facing Michigan Central Station (the greatest american ruin eva!). It’s blight and we’re gonna get rid of it! And we’re gonna make cool stuff.

We’ve titled it the Imagination Station, check out the site see what we’re doing and get involved! This is us taking the concepts of storytelling, community engagenent, crowd funding, and creative collaboration and applying it outside of LOVELAND. 

It’s gonna be BIG!

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