Change Reference 1; Operation Paydirt/ Fundred Dollar Bill Project

Operation Paydirt is a social practice project by artist Mel Chin that invites children, families, schools, and communities to imagine and create a future free of childhood lead-poisoning. Chin learned on his visit to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 about the problem of lead poisoning that for decades has not received proper media attention though it severely plagues the city and the nation. He found that hundreds of thousands of children were being exposed each year, resulting in illnesses and sometimes deaths. Mel decided that children could be part of the solution since the issue so disproportionately affected them.

The Fundred Dollar Bill Project, central to the Operation Paydirt initiative is an artistic campaign “advancing public education and community engagement through the creation and collection of Fundreds – original, hand-drawn interpretations of $100 bills. Fundreds represent the tangible voices of millions speaking to those with the power to end this national problem” ( individual drawings, their voices can be tangibly represented in a collective call for a lead-free future. Throughout 2010, students at hundreds of schools across the US created “Fundred Dollar Bills” that were picked up in a specially designed armored truck and each stop helped to build a nation wide network for lead poisoning awareness. 

*Photo Gallery*



  • 2014  ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan featuring the Fundred Dollar Bill Project.
  • 2015, the Art Academy of Cincinnati partnered with the Fundred Dollar Bill Project and the Cincinnati Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to create a course that used art and design to address and impact issues of lead contamination in Cincinnati.
  • MIT’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) is partnering with Operation Paydirt to create the space for a convening of campaign partners to co-create communications and movement-building strategies.
  • Los Angeles based Healthy Homes Collaborative is invested as an advising partner.
  • One Blade of Grass grant recipients.

The only thing I can see as potentially problematic about this project is the trend of people going to recently devastated areas on service trips but as a way to feel good about themselves and seem like a socially involved hero even though they don’t have a personal connection to the area. I don’t know if that is the case here because he may have genuine intentions even though he didn’t originally have a connection to the area.

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