For the past 11 years we’ve been running an experimental program called Project M. M was inspired by the work of Samuel Mockbee, what he called an “architecture of decency,” and the Rural Studio, the off-campus design build program he co-founded with D.K. Ruth in Hale County on behalf of Auburn University.
Like the Rural Studio, Project M operates in the communities it serves. M inspires and empowers young creative people to identify needs and come up with ingenious solutions to challenges facing the people living in those communities.
While Project M’s spiritual roots are in rural Alabama, we've run sessions in Baltimore, Connecticut, Detroit, Kansas, Maine, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Oklahoma—and internationally in Costa Rica, Germany, Ghana, Iceland.
Project M sessions always produce ingenious small bets. Some have been short-lived, while others have gained momentum—producing learning, insight, and impact over time. That momentum has generated sustainable impact locally—as well as international interest, news coverage, and acclaim. One of our most notable projects is PieLab, covered here in the New York Times Magazine.
The good news.
Project M has produced hundreds of alumni out in the world who are using rapid ingenuity to take on some pretty daunting challenges. Take +Pool, a floating, water-cleaning pool for the rivers of New York City, by M alums Archie Lee Cotes and Jeffrey Franklin. (Go PlayLab!)
The bad news.
Given our day jobs running Think Wrong Blitzes for corporations, start-ups, foundations, non-profits, and government agencies we can only run so many two-week Project M sessions in a given year.
The better news.
We've found a way to increase the number of young people we can introduce to rapid ingenuity. We call them 48-hour Blitzes. To date we’ve run dozens of them at universities across the U.S., in the U.K., and in Australia.
Check out how some students used the Make Stuff Practice to take on the challenge of changing the eating habits of Americans during their 48hr Blitz at the University of Kansas.
The best news.
For the past 5 years, we’ve been searching for the right academic partner to extend the reach of Project M—and rapid ingenuity. Surprisingly that partner was right in Future’s own backyard. When Steve Beal, President of the California College of the Arts (CCA), approached me and said “We’ve been thinking of doing something like M.” I knew we had found a partner who was not afraid to experiment and who shared our passion for eduction and our zeal for driving positive change in the world.
So, now the cat's now partially out of the bag. This Fall CCA is launching a new program called Secret Project, that I will have the honor of leading. Soon the secret will not be so secret. Stay tuned for updates and announcements about Challenge Blitzes, partnerships, and an ingenious building that might just pop-up on CCA’s back lot in San Francisco.