Z World Detroit
There are formal proposals to essentially abandon some of Detroit's neighborhoods.
That's not a solution. Collectively we must be more creative than that.
Here's an idea that will turn the tables on blight. Not only will this idea turn a blighted area into an asset, a portion of the ticket revenue will go to a fund to demolish abandoned buildings throughout the city. Blight will fight blight!
Here's an idea to start something fun and unique that will revitalize an area while creating some jobs for Detroiters.
Before contributing please read this entire description to understand what this project is and is not, and what your contribution will actually fund. To be clear, despite press reports to the contrary, this is a CONCEPT looking for some initial funding. We are not 'developers', we're just starting a grass roots campaign to get something going for Detroit.
The question for Detroit is, what do you do with this?
You turn it into Z World Detroit!
Imagine that you're living through the zombie apocalypse. You and your group are looking for sanctuary in an abandoned urban landscape. You are out of ammo so you are relying on your smarts to survive. As you start to adjust to your new surroundings, your relative calm is broken by a pack of zombies.
People panic and start to run. Some in your group aren’t fast enough and fall to the zombies. Soon they will also be zombies. Where do you go? The odds say make a run for it and you listen. Your group runs down the street and hides in an old warehouse. Is it safe in here? Will the growing zombie horde pass without noticing you? What about your supplies? What about the friend that was lost in the chaos? How long will you survive? Will you make it through the night?
This sounds like an interesting video game, but where is the real thrill in a video game? Suppose this was real. Suppose you were in this with your friends. Suppose you were really running and hiding. Now that would be interesting.
What is Z World Detroit?
Z World Detroit will be a unique and spectacular zombie themed experience park that will transform a virtually neglected section of Detroit, Michigan. Participants will be chased by a growing zombie horde through abandoned factories, stores and homes across hundreds of derelict urban acres.
The city of Detroit is considering literally abandoning sections of the city. While the economic and social benefits of this action can be debated. We think the situation demands more creativity.
The Z World Detroit initiative is a radical rethinking of urban redevelopment and Detroit's well-documented blight and de-population. It turns perceived liabilities into assets that will bring a renewed vitality to a struggling neighborhood. When done right, Z World Detroit would be transformative for part of the city, it would create jobs for Detroiters and become a legitimate destination.
While zombies are great, the real neat thing about this project is the potential to inject some life into a forgotten neighborhood - with the opportunity to work with neighborhood groups and organization. In short, Z World Detroit would become part of the neighborhood, the center of the neighborhood, rather than something sitting outside the neighborhood. A big inspiration for this effort is Detroit's Heidelberg Project (http://www.heidelberg.org), where an artist transformed an east-side street into a massive art installation. This has has a profound effect on that neighborhood and made it a destination.
What is this unique and spectacular experience?
You, your friends and hundreds of others have survived the zombie apocalypse. You enter an enclosed urban landscape where a small, but growing, group of zombies is unleashed. How long can you last? Can you make it to morning? Can you find the needed supplies to survive? Will your hideout be overrun by zombies, forcing you to flee? Will you find refuge in an abandoned house? In an old store? In a hulking old factory? Will you be separated from the rest of your group and be forced to run solo? Will you join up with another group of survivors? Will you ultimately succumb, transforming into a zombie and hunting down your former friends and allies?.
All of this will take place in an expansive, enclosed area of Detroit filled with open spaces, industrial buildings and homes. Of course, to be a true ‘experience’, this must be immersive. The experience is designed to last overnight where you are sequestered in Z World Detroit. For that time, Z World Detroit will be your world, while you forget about any other problems. You will be chased. You will hide. You will hunt. You will have an experience you will never forget. You will make new friends. You will be exhausted and exhilarated. It is a sprawling and chaotic real-life video game and the strangest camping trip of your life, all within a surreal location.
You and your teammates are weaponless since your ammo has run out. Instead you must rely on your skills and teamwork to avoid the zombies, to design makeshift fortifications, find food and water and withstand the final assault. Can you find a suitable base? Who can you trust? Can a teammate be talked into being a diversion for the greater good? Do you hunker down or make a run for it?
Since there will be no weapons (people are there to have a fun experience), the game play will be centered on specially designed tear-away patches. Once your patches are gone, you become a zombie and join the horde. Alternatively zombies can be eliminated if their patches are ripped off. There will be incentives to collect as many patches as possible, to hold out as long as possible, or if you’re a member of the horde, how close can you come to wiping out all of the survivors?
The possibilities are endless and no two games will ever be the same
Z World Detroit will be designed to ensure a very high degree of replay value, so people will want to come back for repeat visits. For instance, the nature and intensity of the initial wave of zombies can vary. It could be a slowly building process, with the tension slowly increasing, or a large swarm could be released initially creating immediate panic and chaos. In some games the supplies may be easy to find, in others perhaps a member of your group must be sacrificed for the greater good. In addition there can be specific goals to achieve and objectives to accomplish. Certainly for the survivors there can be a contest for the most zombie kills and for the zombies, the most survivor kills. There will be maximum flexibility to ensure you will want to come back for more and finish the job.
Fantastic, but what exactly will my pledge be funding?
Given the sizable scope and breadth of this project, your modest contribution is crucial to ignite this project and turn a great idea into something more.
Essentially this project entails obtaining a large piece of urban land, walling it off and creating the required infrastructure to run the game. In many sections of the city most parcels are owned by the city, due to delinquent taxes. In addition, many parcels in the city are essentially worthless, with literally no real market value.
While in one sense, the land is ‘cheap’, it is still a substantial process to locate and assemble a large parcel, work directly with the city on infrastructure issues, conduct engineering studies of existing structures (to ensure that they are safe even for a zombie apocalypse), identify obvious hazards and plan an enclosure wall.
Therefore, this project will help fund 3 specific things that will help get this initiative started:
1. Conduct a comprehensive study to locate ideal sites that meet specific criteria
While we have done the preliminary work and have particular sites in mind that have certain characteristics such as the right mix of structures, a relatively high rate of city owned property and proximity to a freeway. But obviously we will need to get much more detailed to understand the particular land dynamics in the target area and specific ownership issues.
2. Develop specific site designs
This includes the design and costing of the perimeter wall, understanding any engineering requirements for the existing structures and building the underlying infrastructure to support the game. For instance, some buildings may need to be demolished while others modified to help ensure player safety. While we want to provide the excitement of exploring abandoned structures, we don't want it to be unacceptably dangerous.
3. Refinement of the actual game play through pilot design and testing
Of course, you may have the most spectacular location but the game play itself is absolutely critical. Finding the right balance, the right initial mix of zombies to survivors, the right number of 'life patches' for survivors, etc. This will be achieved through a series of simulations and pilots, with the goal of finding the right balance between challenging and fun.
While we would love to fund this entire project through personal and crowdsourced funds, given the desired scope of Z World Detroit these studies and designs (as well as a strong response on Indiegogo) will be absolutely critical in attracting the attention, support and funding from public and private sources. Given the scope of this project, it will require additional funding and ideally we will partner with Detroit businesses/investors to make this happen. In the end, we will need both community and business support to make this happen.
Benefits for Detroit - Transcending a 'Zombie Park'
There are few places where something like this would be possible and Detroit is one of them. In the past 50 years, the city has lost 60% of its population and its industrial might has crumbled. This has left major swaths of the city abandoned or severely underpopulated, with neighborhoods, homes and factories left to crumble.
This is a major issue for the city government which has understandably struggled with the vastness of the problem and has assembled a task force to address the issue. Of course this problem is viewed as an enormous liability.
However, this is thinking about it the wrong way. This empty land and ruins are not liabilities, but assets. The real problem is the lack of creative solutions. What can be done to inject life back into these forgotten neighborhoods?
The city has studied the issue extensively, officially suggesting the potential solution of closing off sections of the city that are no longer considered viable and concentrating their efforts on those areas with a denser base of population. Now the social and economic merits of such a decision can be debated, but what do you do with the sections that are no longer viable? Let it lay fallow, which is equivalent to doing nothing? The city understands the magnitude of the problem and is actively soliciting ideas through the Detroit Works Project. If the city is considering emptying parts of the city, why not do something productive with that land by transforming into a tax-paying business that will create jobs?
For the Z World Detroit team a passive approach is unacceptable and we propose a much different method: turning a forgotten section of Detroit into something special by injecting a creative and unique idea into a moribund neighborhood. This is not a project that takes pictures of once-beautiful old buildings, frames it as art and says, ‘what a shame’. Instead, this is actually doing something by creating vitality, life, jobs and activity. When this project is successful, there is an enormous potential to create additional ancillary businesses in the area such as stores and restaurants.
In this sense, this project transcends an ordinary business. It has the potential to literally transform a portion of the city and the surrounding area. As strange as a zombie-themed park might sound, there are many ways to get local community groups involved in the project. For instance, a space this size could be used for a variety of community and charity events. Imagine a 5K run through the area to raise money for a local charity? Parts of the park could be transformed into massive, living art installation, done by aspiring artists and kids groups. Perhaps, a unique partnership could be formed with the city to build and maintain sports fields that could be used for tournaments. In short, this could become the hub of a neighborhood and a real part of the neighborhood.
When this project is executed correctly, it would become a destination that brings people and jobs into the city. Of course it is not going to solve all of Detroit's problems, but it could revitalize a small section of the city.
What if you exceed your fundraising goal? What will you do with the extra money?
If you have read this far, you realize this is an ambitious project. Any additional dollar raised would be a direct help to the actual construction of Z World Detroit. It would be one less dollar we will need from other sources and one small step closer to making this a reality. So please spread the word to your like minded friends. Like Z World Detroit on Facebook and follow our Twitter feed.
What's the plan?
Certainly, Z World Detroit is much different than most projects on Indiegogo. This will really be a broad-based effort, which we would like to get rolling downhill through Indiegogo. This will be an interdisciplinary effort and we will be actively looking for others to join the team.
When you decide to help fund this project, presumably you will have an interest in how this project develops. Therefore, in addition to providing you regular email updates, we will also actively solicit ideas and feedback from our army of backers. Help us make this come alive in the best way possible.
When we discussed this project with others, the response has been overwhelmingly favorable. However, since the idea is a bit 'out there', a strong Indiegogo response will be key to attracting the financial and political capital to make this happen.
While this is ambitious, it is feasible, with this Indiegogo project being a step in the process. Our near term goal is to have a site selected by early fall and engineering studies completed during the winter. Concurrent with this, the team will be working earnestly on a round of capital funding to fund the property acquisition & construction costs. However the more we are able to raise through Indiegogo, the less we will have to rely on others.
Assuming we stick to our tenative schedule, we could have construction take place throughout the winter and early spring, with a tentative opening in summer of 2013. But of course, this assumes we get additional funding and work out any issues with the city - so this timeline could be viewed as optimistic. Regardless, we need this initial Indiegogo funding to get this thing rolling down hill.
This will be a wild ride and we thank you for any support that you can provide.
The Z World Detroit Team
Z World Detroit LLC, is broad-based effort composed of like-minded, creative professionals - who are willing to go out on a limb, get behind something that is slightly insane and turn a vision into a reality. This is driven, by our desire to really do something for Detroit.
Helping the cause is the fact that the team has a strong set of business and political connections throughout the region. We all have many years of experience in the business world and extensive project management skills.
While we like the positive developments we’re seeing in Detroit’s downtown and along the Woodward corridor, we lamented what happened to the neighborhoods. Individually we wondered why ‘someone’ wasn’t doing ‘something’ about it. It then occurred to us, what were we really doing about? Z World Detroit is our inspired and visionary response to inject vitality back into Detroit’s neighborhoods.
For the Z World Detroit group, this is not about lamenting about the former greatness of the city, taking pictures of abandoned factories and saying ‘what a shame’. This is about taking the assets the city has, and turning a negative into a distinct positive.
Many of our rewards are designed to help get the word out. Proudly wear the logo and be prepared to respond when someone asks, what is Z World Detroit?
Get one of our stylish buttons!
Or get a button and a set of logo stickers in cool alternate color schemes!
Why not go even further and show your Z World Detroit pride with a great looking t-shirt!
Z World Detroit Team