July 16, 2006

ODD NEWS : Blogger exchanges a red paper clip for a house in CANADA

One year ago, a 26-year-old blogger from Montreal set out to barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house.

The quest is ending as envisioned: Kyle MacDonald is due to become the proud owner of a three-bedroom home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan, in Canada. MacDonald and his girlfriend, Dominique Dupuis, expect to move there in early September.

"This is such a cool community project. It feels right," MacDonald said. "And now that I think about it, I can't believe that another small town didn't think of it. It will literally put them on the map."

What's in it for the town? The answer requires a quick MacDonald recap, featuring a menagerie of friendly folk, radio talk show hosts and aging celebrities, all bound together by the internet.

It began when MacDonald, an aspiring writer, doer of odd jobs and apartment dweller, advertised in the barter section of the Craigslist website 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.

Roaming Canada and the United States, he exchanged the pen for a ceramic knob, and in turn: a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg and Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract. Next, in April, he got himself really close, obtaining a year's rent in Phoenix.

His adventure became an internet blockbuster. He did Canadian and Japanese TV and Good Morning America. He made dozens of local radio appearances - one of which, in Los Angeles, was heard by a man who ended up as a pivotal figure.

That man is Corbin Bernsen. You may remember him from his roles in L.A. Law and Major League.

Hip to the publicity-generating machine that is Kyle MacDonald, Bernsen contacted him to say 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.

So MacDonald kept Bernsen's offer off his blog, but plowed ahead with an eye to finding something Bernsen would legitimately want.

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