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Three Fundred Million


Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project is a project by Mel Chin. Its mission: to support a solution to lead-contaminated soil in New Orleans and to help end this form of childhood lead poisoning. Operation Paydirt offers a scientifically-proven method to neutralize hazardous lead (Pb).

The estimated cost to treat New Orleans soil alone is $300,000,000

The Fundred Dollar Bill Project supports Operation Paydirt by symbolically raising those $300,000,000 and is doing so by collecting 3 million different original, hand-drawn interpretations of U.S. $100 bills, so called Fundred Dollar Bills. It’s possible to download a template, such as the one shown here of a hundred dollar bill through a link on the Fundred website, which can be mailed once completed to one of the Collection Centers. Eventually these ‘valuable’ drawings will be picked up by a special armored truck and presented to the U.S. Congress with a request for an even exchange of the creative capital–the Fundreds– for real funding – the Benjamins – to make safe lead-polluted soils in New Orleans.

The interactivity of Mel Chin’s project challenges the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork. “The survival of my own ideas may not be as important as a condition I might create for others’ ideas to be realized,” says Chin, who often enlists entire neighborhoods or groups of students in creative partnerships. Children are the most affected by lead, and therefore, are at the center of this project. However, teachers, parents, administrators and community members are encouraged to contribute as well.

I am pretty jealous of the armored truck they managed to get for this project. I did some research on the internet a while ago to try to obtain an armored truck and even sent an email to armoredcars.com , who ‘offer a full line of reconditioned armored vehicles that are affordable without compromising our standards of quality and safety’, but I guess the words ‘art project’ in the subject line didn’t ring their money bell…….

Using an armored truck might be a purely symbolic act, but it’s exactly the sort of symbolism, which I feel is necessary to make these kind of projects function outside of the realm of imagination. It always seems the easiest solution for the outside world to say that an artist’s dream is just “some weird idea of a crazy artist”, thus giving the world an excuse not to listen. Using the same vocabulary as the seemingly ‘non-artistic and not-weird’ outside world is what can make those two worlds meet and listen to each other. And as always the truth most likely will be found somewhere at the border in the middle.

For me that was one of the main reasons to have security guards protect the money in the Pool of Plenty project; trying to create a belief system by setting the right surroundings and parameters. After all, the whole way our money system nowadays functions is because people believe those pieces of paper do represent a real value.

Since the Bretton Woods conference, which was held in 1944, there’s no more gold standard which will back those pieces of paper, or, as they explained to me during one of my research visits to the Netherlands Bank; ‘printing a Euro bill costs us 7 cents and then we print the words “200 Euros” on that same bill ”

The Fundred project is already well on its way with collecting funds: They already collected over 35 million, in Fundreds of course. The big question, which remains, is if the government will eventually fall for the symbolism of the armored truck arriving at the U.S. Congress and trade those 3 million ‘Fundreds’ for 3 million ‘Benjamins’………………………..

7 thoughts on “Three Fundred Million

    • Let's hope that the U.S. Congress thinks that same way and decides that donating the money will be a whole lot easier than donating that same amount in time and creativity!

  1. This is a beautiful concept and a great cause. The folks in N.O. could use the help and the creativity is flowing. Thinking outside the box and in the armored truck!

  2. Pingback: Some Other Art Projects Relating to Money or Economic Issues - Art as Money

  3. I am so glad that I stumbled across this site! I think this project is an AWESOME idea. It would truly be so much more of a statement than a petition or the like. I plan on printing out a few templates and taking them to local schools to encourage them to participate! Let's make this work! I'm also using it as my argument analysis piece for a college english class… yay!

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