High-Tech Shipping Crate Tries To Spark kids’ Creativity

By Matt Helms
Detroit Free Press.

It’s a simple shipping crate, painted black, in the middle of a cleared lot on Detroit’s east side, but the people who put it there as a pop-up art and technology installation hope it will plant seeds among young people, artists and entrepreneurs interested in futures in tech and creativity.

Inside the shipping crate are two white seats and a table adjacent to flowers along the back wall, with a projection screen and laptop computers equipped with free wireless internet access. People who’ve made careers in the technology field and as artists are scheduled to appear to help spur conversations with whoever shows up.

The idea was the brainchild of Jamal Simmons, a Detroit native who’s a Washington, D.C., political analyst and television commentator, and friend Isaac Madrid, a Los Angeles artist and tech worker.

They launched a new app on Apple’s app store and on Google Play last week called CRVIII (pronoucded Crate, with the VIII in the name standing for the Roman numeral 8). The social-networking app’s goal is to bring together artists, designers, makers and entrepreneurs and give them a space to share their ideas and portfolios, interact and collaborate and find investors and other resources.

CRVIII “is meant to give people the opportunity to show off what they create and what their creative projects are, meet other people who also have those projects, and then find ways to bring those ideas and dreams to reality,” Simmons said Thursday at the launch of the pop-up installation that runs through Saturday.

Simmons, a graduate of Detroit’s Cass Tech, said CRVIII wanted to include young people, artists and entrepreneurs in Detroit who might not otherwise have links to the tech industry or connections to other resources in creative fields.

A major part of CRVIII’s goal is “finding ways to bring technology to communities that have been forgotten,” he said. “We really wanted people who weren’t participating as well in the new technology environment to have a place to come and do so.”

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