Can by Can Architects Raise Awareness of Hunger
When Mike Oertel was introduced to the Canstruction event in 2006, he was just starting his career in the architecture industry and saw it as an opportunity to be creative and meet people at his new office. The team designed an elaborate Pac-Man structure. Mike was in charge of the cherries.
11 years, 16 Canstruction sculptures later (not all for official competition), and an estimate of 57,000 cans of donated food; the meaning behind Mike’s involvement with the event has evolved. Mike notes that the teambuilding aspect is still his favorite part of the event, but now it’s also about raising awareness of the issue of hunger. “Doing this event, it’s actually educated me,” shared Mike. “People are surprised about the fact that there’s hunger in Minnesota. This is an issue that’s affecting our neighbors.”
For Mike, it’s fitting that Canstruction takes place in September, during Hunger Action Month. This year’s structure was specifically designed for hunger awareness and highlighted the staggering statistic of one in 10 Minnesotans is food insecure – meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Can by can, Mike and a few of his colleagues followed carefully designed plans and assembled 6,000 cans to create the hunger awareness-themed structure. The structure included canned pumpkin, mixed vegetables, green beans, pears and more - all of which are donated to Second Harvest Heartland following the event.
Mike and the team from Pope Architects competed alongside several other firms during the event on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Mall of America. The friendly competition and giant art displays resulted in a donation of more than 34,400 pounds of food donated to Second Harvest Heartland. Each firm also fundraises to purchase the cans for their structure and provide additional support. Dollars are still coming in, but initially between cans and dollars donated, Second Harvest Heartland will be able to provide over 56,000 meals to our neighbors struggling with hunger.