Over the Rainbow: Trading One Tiny Red Paper Clip for a Whole Big House

Kyle MacDonald started out a post on his blog by stating:

This red paperclip is currently sitting on my desk next to my computer.  I want to trade this paperclip with you for something bigger or better, maybe a pen, a spoon, or perhaps a boot.  If you promise to make the trade I will come and visit you, wherever you are, to trade.  So, if you have something bigger or better than a red paperclip to trade, email me with the details atoneredpaperclip@gmail.com.  Hope to trade with you soon!  Kyle.  P. S.  I’m going to make a continuous chain of ‘up trades’ until I get a house.  Or an Island.  Or a house on an island.  You get the idea.

*Click Here to see who he ended up trading his one red paperclip with!

Or see a video of the CNN report about his feat here: CNN: One Red Paper Clip

Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house might sound like some over-the-top corny magic trick.  But one year ago, the 26-year-old blogger from Montreal actually set out to do it, hoping to trade one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until, he dreamed, he just might end up with a house.  Kyle MacDonald, it turns out, has actually pulled it off!!  On Wednesday the journey is will come to an end just as MacDonald had dreamed: he will become the proud owner of a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan.  What’s in it for the town?  The answer requires a quick MacDonald recap, featuring a menagerie of friendly folks, radio talk show hosts and aging celebrities, all bound together by the Internet.  It all began when MacDonald, an aspiring writer and apartment renter, advertised in the barter section of the Craigslist Web site that he wanted something bigger or better for one red paper clip.  He traded it for a fish-shaped pen, and posted on Craigslist again and again.  Criss-crossing Canada and the United States, he exchanged the pen for a ceramic knob, a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg, a Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract.  Next, in April, he obtained a year’s rent in Phoenix.  His adventure became an Internet blockbuster.  He did Canadian and Japanese TV and a spot on “Good Morning America.”  He made dozens of local radio appearances.

In Los Angeles, McDonald was heard during a radio interview by a man who ended being a central figure in this saga.  That man was Corbin Bernsen, who had acting roles in “L.A. Law” and “Major League.”  Bernsen contacted McDonald to say that he was writing and directing a movie and would offer a paid speaking role as an item available for trade.  MacDonald was thrilled.  But he feared the integrity of his journey would be compromised if he accepted the role without trading Bernsen something he really could use.  Say what you want about “Major League 3,” but Bernsen has done well enough that he doesn’t need a free apartment in Phoenix.

Seemingly disregarding good economic sense, MacDonald traded the year’s rent for an afternoon with rocker Alice Cooper.  (MacDonald’s response: “Alice Cooper is a gold mine of awesomeness and fun.“)  Then in a move that really confused his blog readers, MacDonald bartered time with Cooper for a snow globe depicting the band Kiss.  Re-enter Corbin Bernsen.  You see, since the days when he’d get free stuff on promotional tours for “L.A. Law,” Bernsen has amassed a collection of 6,500 snow globes.  “One off, they look sort of goofy,” Bernsen said.  “Put them all together and they sort of look like pop art.”  So MacDonald gave Bernsen the Kiss model and encouraged his blog readers to send the actor even more globes in exchange for autographed pictures.

All of this delighted the elders in Kipling, a town of 1,140 believed to have been named in honor of author Rudyard Kipling.  Like many rural towns, Kipling is eager to fend off the dangers of a dwindling population by attracting new businesses, tourism and above all, attention.  When the local development coordinator, Bert Roach, heard about MacDonald’s odyssey, he suggested at the next council meeting that Kipling lure him.  The town purchased an unoccupied rental house on Main Street and offered it to MacDonald.

MacDonald doesn’t expect to live in Kipling forever.  But he says he’ll make it home at least while he settles down to write a book. Of course, he’ll have the usual homeowner headaches: taxes, utilities, upkeep.  Not to worry, Mcdonald stated, “I’ll figure something out.  I can get a job.  There’s three grocery stores in town.”

Read the whole story, with many pictures, at MacDonald’s Blog.


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