I’ve been watching Erik Proulx reinvent himself for the last year and a half. In that time he’s gone from a laid off copywriter, to an advocate for the many advertising professionals who lost their jobs, to a promising documentary filmmaker. He’s become a blogger, a public speaker, and perhaps most importantly a source of inspiration for an awful lot of people.
Erik stopped by Mullen last Friday to talk about his newest project, Lemonade Detroit. Following on the heels of the highly acclaimed Lemonade the Movie, which documented the lives of 16 former ad agency staffers who suddenly found themselves out of work, he’s now moved on to a city that’s earned the label of poster child for the misery brought on by the recession.
Only instead of focusing on how the city is down and out, Erik’s perspective is far more optimistic. The city that gave us the assembly line at the beginning of the 20th century is likely to create something equally inspiring 100 years later. As he begins his research and quest for person stories he’s discovering entrepreneurs, start-ups that actually possess souls, and an underlying energy and determination that seem to contradict the depressed real estate prices and vacant office space.
One of Erik’s theories is that people would rather be unhappy than uncomfortable. So many of the unemployed had been doing jobs they never really loved anyway, and in a strange twist of fate losing their livelihood helped them find other passions.
Lemonade Detroit is a story that needs to be told. It will reveal a side of a city and the people who live there that we don’t always get to see. Ideally it will remind us all of what’s possible and perhaps inspire others to re-invent themselves, too.
We’re in the middle of election season right now. There’s more hot air and bullshit out there than ever. Maybe Erik’s next re-invention will be a run for office. If he does, he’ll have my vote.
In the meantime, I’m making a donation to the production of Lemonade Detroit. You can as well. Go to buyaframe.lemonade.com and claim a few frames of the movie. You’ll be supporting the re-invention movement.