Friday, June 18, 2010

Loveland: The Scene of the Crime

A sawed off pole in Loveland missing its solar panel lies across Plymouth.

By @RitaJKing

Shortly after midnight I received a call from Jerry Paffendorf to let me know that a crime took place today in Loveland.

Loveland is a city of inches in Detroit. 600 people from all around the world are “inchvestors” who share space in Loveland’s first fully developed colony, Plymouth. Each parcel in Plymouth is one square inch. Each inch costs one dollar. I own 1000 inches in Plymouth. This neighborhood of 1000 inches is called The Imagination Age Network.

As “inchvestors” in Loveland, we live scattered among states, countries and even continents. But we share a neighborhood, and in our neighborhood tonight, a crime took place. How we react to this challenge is the first real test of our shared values.

Tonight, before I spoke with Jerry, I had dinner with Jesse Dylan, the Curator of Mysteries of the Imagination Age Network. The most incredible thing about Loveland, he said, is that it’s “real.” Immediately, we learned just how real our shared space is. The same way a seed contains the blueprint for a vine that can grow a half-ton pumpkin with seeds of its own, each inch in Loveland is tiny but full of future.

Jerry’s pictures of the crime scene depict what happened to the pole that he, Mary Lorene Carter and Alan Languirand erected to support a solar-powered camera at the top. It was sawed down, and the solar panel, which the Imagination Age Network funded, was removed and stolen. The next step would have been to attach a Lemon Battery camera.

Had the camera been installed, images of the vandals would have been captured and uploaded before they had a chance to get close enough to touch the pole. In this way the Lemon Battery camera will curb future vandalism on the site, unless would-be criminals don’t mind their pictures instantly being shared with law enforcement and the rest of the world. A sign will be placed on the property warning future visitors that if they can see the Lemon Battery, the Lemon Battery can also see them.

This is not the first time recently that I’ve dealt with an invasion. A few months ago, I heard a sound at my back door at home. I caught a gloved hand holding my garden shears reaching for the doorknob through a broken glass panel. As I met with various security professionals and weighed the options for protection, I was forced to deal with serious questions:

Which measures are only psychologically comforting, and which actually result in increased safety?

What is the proper attitude to take in the face of such a crime?

Where’s the line between security and paranoia, protection and cynicism?

Some might argue that leaving a valuable object like a solar panel unattended in an abandoned urban environment during an economic and cultural crisis is asking for trouble, but I disagree. Neglecting such areas when they need attention the most leads to even more squalor, and that’s a failure of imagination.

At the heart of Loveland is love.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Construction at Loveland

Plymouth, LOVELAND Construction, June 2010 from Jerry Paffendorf on Vimeo.

By Rita J. King

I couldn't be more excited to see cement being poured.

The time capsule shown 44 seconds into the video was packaged by me in the middle of the night before Jerry Paffendorf and Mary Lorene Carter drove back to Detroit from New York City last Monday. Jerry texted me when I was already in bed to tell me if I wanted to bury a time capsule in the cement, they'd be by at 9 am to pick it up.

I am the founder of the Imagination Age Network, a neighborhood of 1000 inches in the first colony of Loveland, Plymouth. Plymouth consists of 10,000 inches, outlined by the cement.

I got out of bed and in the silent darkness, gathered my thoughts to figure out what I should include. Time capsules in cornerstones customarily include that day's newspapers so the date can be remembered. I printed out a copy of my friend Cory Doctorow's latest post on Boing Boing. I included a string of Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans. I found them on the floor in a little girl's room. She had meticulously stenciled a sign for her door, "Don't come in without knocking first," but looters had kicked the door in and torn her abandoned possessions to shreds, leaving only a pile of tangled beads on the cheap, burnt carpet. The beads symbolize rebirth, reconstruction, the hope that Detroit will once again be a city of the future and that the individual lives of the human beings affected by disaster are remembered. I included a picture of the Detroit girls, Celeste and Ricki, who live on the same street as Loveland. They are the only ones left on their block, but they're thrilled that the micro real-estate experiment has given them neighbors.

The jar includes a map of Plymouth and two versions of the Imagination Age Network, the first as conceived on a cocktail party, on a napkin, with Jerry, and the second (shown below in the rainbow image) after the actual plot of land was redistricted. Originally, I had intended the Imagination Age to be subdivided, but we ended up with a single block of 25 by 40 inches. I like it better the way it turned out, but both maps went in the jar.

Old map.

New map.

I included an LED light connected to a small battery that I once used to write the word love in the air.

The jar contains other secret items as well, but more on that later.

The most important thing about the jar is that it contains an augmented reality marker and on July 17, in Detroit, the jar will begin to communicate from inside the cement. The contents of the jar will be updated as the community develops.

Also see:
Welcome to Loveland!
Rita J. King speaks at O'Reilly's Gov2.0 Summit about Loveland