Made in Michigan

The idea

Sometimes you get to build your side projects and sometimes you don’t. This one wouldn’t have necessarily required a lot of effort, but it was/is time I just don’t have. Originally this idea was a “Made in the USA” project that was inspired by the shuttering of Svpply was a precursor to Pinterest, though slightly more niche, where you’d bookmark images of products. A bookmarked item on Svpply could belong to multiple “collections” so I had a collection of interconnected boards, one called “Made in the USA” which housed a set of items that where made in the States. If I ever needed something specific I’d scan that set for it first. For example, there is a US company that makes those traditional aluminum and webbing-wrapped lawn chairs (like my Grandma used to have). If I ever needed a lawn chair I’d scan through that set and buy from there first, instead of going to Amazon or a local store and buying something made outside the country. My intent was largely to spend my money to, maybe selfishly, benefit my local/national economy. Though, let me be very clear about this, I was not interested in rewarding mediocrity. You had to make a good product and make it well to find your way into my Svpply collection. Svpply went away and Pinterest is not as robust as I wanted to be for this kind of thing. In the end I wondered if I could just build something for myself and give everyone access to the product of my efforts.

The idea isn’t too complicated at it’s core. Essentially it’s a resource listing a collection of products, buy-able by the public in a physical store or online, that are made by Michigan companies or are the product of a notable amount of Michigan labor. At it’s simplest this could be a blog. I think that these listings would need some context as to what they are, maybe how the product is made, and where the company and it’s facilities are located in Michigan. A more complicated incarnation might be a wiki, especially if you’re trying to solicit different communities within the state to contribute. The original idea was country-wide, but it became pretty obvious to me that a single person would not be able to do the amount of work to make the project as verbose as I wanted it to be. Inevitably I decided I should just focus on my State and potentially expand later. No real new ground is being broken here, I’ve seen vaguely similar projects at smaller scope come together (in the Detroit area no less) and then disintegrate after a year or so. I’ve seen similar projects occurring in places like nutrition communities, where you might have a food wiki listing the nutrition information of a particular item. The appeal is not that the idea is something new, primarily it saves people who want to vote with their dollars/feet a lot of time and effort by doing research for them. Potentially at the same time creating awareness and building stronger local economies with small effort.

While mulling this idea over I collected a decent trove of links to products that I don’t feel like just deleting. I think I’ll put them up somewhere around here eventually.