Several months ago, I started on a journey to create a 4′ x 8′ American flag – built progressively at events in Long Beach – in LEGO bricks. It was ambitious, would be participated in by a thousand youth and adults, and be seen by tens of thousands more. I’d wanted to do a big LEGO project and explore funding possibilities for projects like this. The journey is still being traveled, but I have had many lessons along the way, and I want to share these lessons with you.
Just in case you want to build a 4′ x 8′ US flag in LEGO Bricks.
Check out yesterday’s event video.
Sponsorships for LEGO projects… or any project… are hard to find.
I had a grand idea that I would find sponsors to fund red white and blue 1×1 LEGO bricks. I figured out the cost and added in the cost for my time (then donated my time). I found several organizations to cooperate in the project, and the Long Beach BSA was the fiscal sponsor. It’s all well and good to make a grand plan, but alas, there were no bites. Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough. Perhaps the sponsors are too inundated with requests like this. Perhaps I had no experience to offer. Perhaps the concept was too extreme or insufficiently developed. Perhaps it was all of these.
You may need to get creative on your funding.
Luckily for me, I had two cars that were about to retire, and with over 180K miles on each of them, they would have been of very little value on a trade in. I made a targeted donation of the two cars to the Long Beach BSA with the project as beneficiary. Cars4Causeswas the facilitating organization. I also received a tax form from Cars4Causes after the auction sale of the car. Because it was purchased by an uninterested buyer, I can deduct the entire sale price of the car on my taxes! Bonus!
Sometimes you have to change the plan.
Since the bright idea of seeking sponsors didn’t pan out, and the sale of my junkers would net the project somewhere around $1.5K instead of the expected $4K+, I decided to adapt the design to cost as little as possible. 1×1 LEGO bricks are hard to find, and harder to find in specific colors. I got some advice from Mariann Asanumawho does professional creative work in LEGO bricks and learned her building tricks as a Master Builder at LEGOLAND, CA. 1×2 bricks are much easier to find than 1×1 bricks. It was a great idea, because I could also have used all of those 1×2 bricks in a brick bendingexercise later. Eventually, I decided to collect plates and tiles in red, white and blue. More of these can fit into a cup, the unit of sale of loose bricks at the LEGO stores, than bricks can. I also decided to get any tiles and plates I could find, even though it would not permit consistency in the look of the product. This decision was made because you can’t predict what comes in on the Pick a Brick wall at the back of the LEGO stores. And I should know… Because I’ve been visiting a lot of LEGO stores looking for red, white and blue tiles and plates. My own private scavenger hunt.
Friends will help you.
The production yesterday at the Long Beach Scout O Rama included use of equipment from the Cultural Alliance, Shared Science, support from the BSA’s Troop 14 youth and parents. An appeal to the Long Beach LEGO User Group (of which I am a founding member) helped to facilitate the use of LEGO bricks for free play during the event, thanks to The LEGO Group’s Community Coordinators Kevin Hinkle and Kristin.
Are there enough bricks?
Only time will tell. We’re targeting the 4th of July celebration at Veteran’s Stadium as the final execution. As a backup, I’ve prepared several helping worksheets (with stud measurements) that will help us to execute smaller flags.
Time to Execute, the 4th of July is coming up!
The activity has been seen in various forms at:
- the Long Beach National Robotics Week Celebration
- Lowell Elementary School’s Summer Camp Fair
- The Long Beach BSA’s Troop 14 meeting
- Yesterday was the first really big execution at the Long Beach BSA’s Scout O Rama
- the Sea Base’s DIY Club Day on June 8th
- the 8th District’s Second Sunday celebration on Long Beach Blvd
- the Second Saturday Artwalk in the 1st district
- the Third Friday Artwalk on North Pine Street
- the final official presentation will be at the Long Beach Parks and Rec Veterans Stadium Celebration on July 4th
In September 2014, we’ll be at the Ronald McDonald House’sSeptember Car and Motorcycle show’s Youth Activity Zone, with organizational support from our newest member, the RMH Special Events coordinator.
What happens to the bricks after the event?
It’s the question in everyone’s head, I know. The bricks will remain dedicated to the American Quilt in LEGO Bricks project. It will be put into use by the Teen LEGO program being implemented in the fall at the Long Beach Sea Base. The teens and their parents will help to support requests for builds of the flag, and come up with 4′x4′ additions to the quilt project (we’ve got an Eagle to build next year), and designs of the flag using different types of bricks. And of course, requests by neighboring LEGO User Groups will be accommodated, so long as the bricks are not being borrowed from the Teen LEGO program by one of the Teen LEGO Club members or the Long Beach LEGO User Group. For more information about the Teen LEGO program, please subscribe to the Makersville email list.
Can the project be presented at my event?
The Teen LEGO Program is a career exploring program through the use of LEGO bricks. The youth in the program will field all requests for use of the bricks, and the youth and parents will provide support for the events. Organizers of large scale events wishing support from the Teen LEGO youth are encouraged to contact the organization by email info(at)makersville.net.
And about next year…
The awesome American Flag in LEGO Bricks project can only grow through the support of the community. So, my Friend, if you have a car that you’re looking to donate, think of the Teen LEGO Program and the Career Exploring Clubs at the Sea Base. info(at)makersville.net for more information.
Your old LEGO.
We’re always going to be on the lookout for LEGO donations from the community. Disposition of LEGO donations will be made by the Long Beach LEGO User Group at its monthly meetings and are expected to be put into the LEGO loan program (to members) or youth programs at one of our related organizations. Donations may be made at one of the following locations:
- the Studio, the Long Beach Public Library’s Maker space in the main library
- the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach
- the Long Beach BSA’s Council office
- the Long Beach Sea Base.