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Meet Our Friend: Rich Alapack

Freehand Friends

we all live here founder Rich Alapack is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. He first came to the States to play baseball. During his sophomore year, Winona State University became the first college in the country to mandate laptops for all students. Rich seized this opportunity to tap into a connected community more like today’s Internet and started not one, but two companies during what is now known as Internet 1.0. Rich has continued to be at the forefront of Internet monetization via a digital advertising career with pioneering stints at Careerbuilder, Crave Online, Kiip, and Tumblr.  Prior to starting we all live here he was the first Creative Director of the Chicago based startup Popular Pays.

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we all live here uses art, community, and technology to remind us all to get along and help each other to succeed. Men and women. Young and old. Gay and straight. Black and white. Tall and short. Rich and poor. Dog and cat. We all live on this planet together. Our differences and uniquenesses make us all better. Rich believes that we should embrace this and enjoy each other responsibly. Rich started we all live here as a reaction to the violent and segregated reputation Chicago has unfortunately become known for. He states “too many things have become reasons for people to not get along and we decided to try and create something where everyone could get along and help each other succeed. If we want to change tomorrow we need to start today especially with our youth.” What interests Rich the most about his endeavors is people’s creativity. He thinks it’s a super power that exists in all of us. Rich hopes to inspire others to find and develop their own creative voice in order to share it with the world.

We chopped it up with Rich about all things Chicago….Check it out! 

Freehand: What’s the best season to visit Chicago? 

Rich: Fall is my favorite season, but Summer in Chicago is on par or greater than anywhere else in the world. People are outside. People are mingling at all the neighborhood street festivals. And we have a beach right across the street from downtown. Also unlike a lot of other cities people stay in the city on Summer weekends.

FH: What’s your favorite movie based in/filmed in Chicago?

Rich: Hands down Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

FH:Chicago Pizza or Chicago Hot Dog? 

Rich: Pequod’s Pizza.

FH: What’s your favorite hangout spot in Chicago?

Rich: I love an outdoor patio or roof deck in the summer. In the winter months I like a lounge with a fireplace. The Shaker has a great vintage feel that really appeals to me for hanging out.

FH: If you could have drinks with anyone at the Shaker, living or dead, who would it be?

Rich: Steve Jobs or David Bowie. I would love to know more about how their creative processes worked.

FH: How did you first get started with We All Live Here?

Rich: When I first came up with the phrase I thought “wow, that’s really powerful.” It can be environmental. It could be about violence prevention. It can be about racial equality. It can be about economic disparity. All these issues are very real in Chicago today. But I wanted to see if it would mean anything to anyone else so I printed some signs with the phrase and brought them to Pitchfork and Lollapalooza last year. I started asking strangers if they would allow me to take pictures of them holding the signs. If people hadn’t responded well to that, then the project likely would have ended before it got started. Thankfully I ended up with hundreds of photos and posted them on a Tumblr blog. Tumblr then featured us and we got 25K followers in a week. Then I started getting messages of encouragement from strangers all around the world and the rest is history.

Freehand: What reaction are you looking for from people who encounter We All Live Here events and projects?

Rich: I hope to inspire people to remember to get along and help each other out. Our projects must involve art, community, and technology in order for us to do them. They also usually include elements of interactivity like the mural we did for the guest kitchen at the Freehand. By inviting guests to draw all over the mural with chalk about what their home means to them we get a result that is always evolving and never gets old.

Freehand: What is on your We All Live Here dream-project list? 

Rich: I had an idea I wanted to do for Lollapalooza this year that I just didn’t have time to execute properly. The idea was to fly a banner behind a plane all 77 neighborhoods that represents equality. We would do a Kickstarter to fund that and backers would get to put their name on the actual banner that flies by donating $5. We would then do a documentary around the banner creation and the flight so people could see their names in the video since you couldn’t see them from the ground. Finally there would be a website for people to go to that shows exactly where on the banner their name is located. Well, on October 6th 2016this dream will actually come true. The Chicago Children’s Choir wrote a song called we all live here and named their upcoming album. Hebru Brantley is a famous Chicago artist and he did all the album art for us. So instead of the banner I designed, we will be flying his iconic Flyboy character. It’s so cool. I can’t wait to show how even though we may be geographically segregated we as people actually believe in equality.

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FH: From whom would you most like to get a request for a custom We All Live Here project?

Rich: What a great question! Maybe the organizers of a festival like Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, Coachella or Burning Man.

FH: If you could influence any two people in the entire world to get along, who would they be?

Rich: That’s a great question too! My parents got divorced when I was 5. As far as I know, they’ve never spoken since I was 9. At this point they should just let the past stay in the past and be civil at least.

Follow Rich on Instagram to stay in the loop with his upcoming projects!