Literal Squalor: Detroit

Credit:  u/sivribiber

Credit: u/sivribiber

Project title:

Literal Squalor: a nonprofit slumlord


3 year residencies to transform the world

What it is:

  • 5 participant per house

  • 1 topic per house


5 people, one of each: builder/coder, architect/illustrator, writer, curator, poet


Yes, entire families can apply - they will be given priority consideration but every single family member (no matter how young / old) needs to be one of 5 roles listed above, and every single member is responsible for their own work with significant impact

Why they participate:

Cheap rent at $50/month (because Literal Squalor purchases house as nonprofit, a house for $1000 and property tax of $700/year)


Produce work with significant impact on society by the end of 3 years, with validation by established authors of your field


…for a given topic, find 10 most influential authority who have also written books that are important in their field, eg, Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Goal of validating:

50% of the 10 validators agree with your demonstrated impact at end of 3 years, almost like a positive book review

What happens after 3 years?

If they succeeded with validating impact, then get automatic renewal for another 3 years… if they want to still stay in squalor in Detroit

Example problems:

  1. Solve: bananas going extinct,

  2. Recreate 20.95% oxygen atmosphere in space,

  3. Solve: rape,

  4. Sex ed: collect and share stories of “all the things I wish I knew” from adults for 18, 13, 9, and 6 year olds

Example output:

1) An independently-published magazine like you see in soda: or 2) An independently-published book like you see in pro qm:


  • 100 houses in Detroit

  • 500 residents

  • If 1% of them make it, Literal Squalor would have supported 5 people who changed the world