This Friday we’ll hold the 4th of 8 public conversations with this summer’s Field Office Fellows. We’re introducing each fellow with a short interview before their discussion. Here, Mike Haeg answers some questions about his micro-experiment, the W.A.L.K.E.R. Pole.
You’re the Mayor of Mt. Holly, Minnesota. Tell us a little bit about your hometown, and what happens there?
Well, we are a small town of 4 surrounded by Shakopee, the city of origin for both the First Lady and myself. Our primary export is the idea that one can make more fun than one can buy. We celebrate civic events, hold an international film festival, and try our darndest to enrich the lives of our friends and neighbors through art.
What made you decide to install a M*A*S*H* pole in Mt.Holly?
Despite all of the digital methods for being connecting with people. I was getting more lonely. I wanted a way to connect with other people over long distances in a more tactile than digital manner.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite arrows that someone has added to the pole?
Michelle Azar heard about the M*A*S*H pole project and asked her daughter Lizzie to pick a destination for their arrow. Lizzie wanted to point the arrow “Wherever gummi bears are made.” They did a little research and created an arrow covered in gummi bears pointing to the Haribo factory in Bonn Germany. The team delivered the arrow personally. As we made the exchange, Lizzie apologized for biting the heads off a few of the bears on her way to Mt. Holly.
The M*A*S*H* Pole is an open platform, meaning that it’s something anyone can make and use at home. Why is that important to your work?
I earnestly believe that with a minimal amount of effort, through handmade projects, people can make their lives, and the lives of their friends, families and neighbors way more rewarding and fulfilling. The M*A*S*H* Pole is a perfect example.
With little more than a shovel, a 4″x4″, and some scrap wood and paint, a neighborhood can add a little personality to their generic playground or park. A mother can be connected with her spread-around-the-world kids and grandkids. A prison yard could hold a direct reminder to each inmates outside home and life. Or, like the original M*A*S*H* Pole, our overseas military could be connected more substantially to the people and places they are serving for.
Do you know if anybody else has actually put up a pole yet?
Not yet. If someone does, I hope they shoot me a line, I’d love to trade arrows with them.
What do you hope to accomplish through the Field Office Fellowship?
I hope to accomplish a couple of things. First, I’m really curious about how people think about their place in the physical world in the light of our spending so much time in the digital one. Secondly, I’m really curious about what will happen when strangers exchange something of personal substance (a piece of art and an idea, in the form of an arrow.) What will the residual effects be?
Is there another Field Office project you’re especially excited about?
The reading room is really intriguing to me. Alone together or together alone? (Maybe I just want a place to escape my whiney constituents.)
Where can we find out more information about the W*A*L*K*E*R* Pole and your other projects?
Thank you Mike!
You’re invited to join Works Progress and Walker ECP staff for an open conversation with Mike Haeg on Friday, September 16th from 6 to 7PM at the FlakPak House in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. There will be refreshments!