The Department heads West!

doee at oe

Greetings from Oregon!  The trusty staff at the DOEE have been issuing permits, implementing a Program for Merit Distribution, collecting portraits in our Facebook and meeting hundreds of new people.  Where, you ask?  Why, at Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice conference, Open Engagement.  Artists from all over the world have descended upon the City of Roses for paneling, friending, eating, project-ing, and workshopping.  Despite the rain, our spirits are high as we continue archiving to our hearts’ delight.  We have attended workshops on a variety of topics, including Ruralscapes, Puppets, Keynotes, and Craft.

We have hosted workshops in such admirable skills as rounds, finding your inner angsty teen diva, and mad-lib poems.  We are offering the following merit badges for skills learned in these workshops: Information Revelation, Got it Made, Rock the Block, and Spread the Word.  Anyone can sign up to teach a workshop, and anyone can attend, so for those of you in Portland, come on down to Shattuck Hall this weekend for some Departmental fun!

The Department Rises!

The Department employees have often claimed that “the ice never melts in Shantytown.” This has unfortunately has been proven to not be true, but even so, the Department of Everything Else lives on. Henrietta Hovelton, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, has journeyed out into the world and is setting up an outpost.

Come visit her at the Walker Art Center Free First Saturday Open Field on July 7th to help imagine what a new Shantytown could look like. If you could build a place from scratch, what would it look like? What would your life there be like? We need YOU to imagine a magical shanty future!

So long Shantytown

The cold has begun to settle back into Shantytown now.  Early we rise to breathe in the frigid air and stir the few embers in the woodstove back to life.  The final weekend of the project was a roaring success.  We naturalized 465 citizens in all and issued too many permits to count.  The Popular Apothecary stocked and dispensed 36 cures for abstract ailments like extreme modern boredom, homesickness, and uncontrollable crying during movies.  We published our zine, Medicine Lake Medicine, a collection of home remedies gathered right here in the Department.  Thank you to the Letterpress Shanty for helping us print the covers!

Here at the end of things, we at the Department feel above all so grateful to the thousands of people who made Shantytown what it is.  To the people who brought us food, firewood, treats, music, muscle, oil lamps, curtains, greens, medicine, help, good cheer and good wishes: we can never thank you enough.  Somehow we never bought a single stick of firewood, our bin magically refilling every week by kindhearted citizens.

To the citizens and visitors who filled out all of our paperwork, we’d like to thank you for sharing your hopes, dreams, drawings and stories of what Shantytown can be.  We believe that documenting is the first step in preservation and proliferation.  We hope that you will remember what you believed was possible in Shantytown and try to make those things happen everywhere else.  Our own hearts and minds are full of the life we believed into existence here on the lake.  We’re leaving with hands dirty with soot and a fair number of burns and scrapes, but traces of our life in Shantytown extend beyond the physical.  We’ve learned that anyone can imagine something more.  Talk with us and you’ll see it in our eyes: we want to know what you’re dreaming of.

A big shout out to all of the AMAZING musicians that performed in the Department.  Sunday’s People’s Revolutionary Jug Band romp was stellar.


The ice never thaws in Shantytown… at least in our imaginations.  So until next time, stay warm, be healthy, mind your permits.

Paperwork, paperwork

Inspired by our historical archives, Abby imagined meeting a yeti.  A yeti with a mustache.  Amazing.

This is so good.  Snowsuit.  Igloo.  Yes.

A Shanty with a cannon and a watchtower!

The Shantytown gardens and goats.

Ice, an important crop.


August, we love your Shantyfish.

Excuse me, M’am, is that your baby?  Do you have a permit for that?

Permits for Corgies and peace encouraged but not required.



A shackfull of music

What a weekend!  Visitors on Sunday were estimated to number around 2,700!  The press has been covering the Projects left and right and we here at the Department have been busily issuing permits and citizenship, collecting remedies and generally documenting the people of Shantytown.

This week is bittersweet as we look forward to the upcoming last weekend of the project.  Our cozy shack over frozen waters has come to mean so much to us.  Life here is different- as we like to say, Shantytown is what you make of it.  So while the youngsters dream of shanties free from little brothers and full of lemonade and money trees, we dreamed of making a place where our enthusiasm for this temporary community could pull former strangers into the fold.  As we sit around our new murphy table, singing and snacking with other fine Shantytown residents, we feel our dream fulfilled.  With every citizenship or permit we issue and every remedy we shelve, we step closer to making this place a sort of home for anyone who’s willing.  We ask citizenship applicants to “Imagine your new life in Shantytown.”  So far, their new lives are nothing but amazing.  From friendships with yetis and escape from boredom to magical abilities and having the job they’ve always wanted, Shantytown has inspired folks to dream bigger.

The Popular Apothecary

Flim and Flam

Roe Family Singers


















The Department was host to several musical performances this past weekend.  Saturday The Roe Family Singers performed a double-decker show.  Visitors were stomping their boots to their old-timey musical stylings.  Sunday morning we hosted a shape note Singing.  Our many voices could be heard from the parking lot.  Sunday afternoon the girl band Flim and Flam performed in the loft to a packed house.  The crowd chanted, “Flim, Flam, Flim, Flam!” as the girls sang their hearts out.  As we point our snowboots toward the last weekend, we at the Department are treasuring our final days on Medicine Lake .  We’re looking forward to dispensing remedies from the Popular Apothecary and an upcoming jugband performance.

We’ll still have a few days on the ice after this weekend to relax and soak up all the shack living we can get.

Some of our fine Citizens

We at the Department wanted to share a few of the Citizenship applications we’ve received. 

Chloe’s new life in Shantytown includes her mom, dad and Cora, but not her little brother. We respect that. Shatytown can be whatever you make it.

Jonah’s shanty will have a fireplace, stove, fancy lights and an awesome sleeping loft. We’re considering hiring him to design the addition we’re planning for the Department.

 We haven’t heard whether U.S. immigration has accepted Isaic’s Shatytown Citizenship card as valid proof of residence.  We hope so.

Maggie will be sleeping in an igloo.  With penguins.  We love penguins too.

Penguins everywhere.  Sully’s is real handsome.

Yes Penelope, most people would agree that Shantytown IS full of peace and love!

You too can become a citizen of Shantytown!  Just drop by the Department of Everything Else and fill out an application.  Most everyone is naturalized and we promise to approve you with the same enthusiasm we bring to all things Shanty.



Things are heating up

100 degrees!!!

The Hummingbirds

Temperatures in the Department have swung this week from a windchill of -20 (we woke up with frost covering our sleeping bags and steam issuing from our bodies) to 100 degrees in the daytime when our stove was blasting and the sun coming in through our beautiful wall-length windows.

The second weekend was a busy one in the Department of Everything Else.  So far we’ve naturalized 224 citizens, processed over 150 permits, and have shelved 19 remedies in the Popular Apothecary.  Henrietta and Cora were in seventh heaven with all of the filing that had to be done throughout the weekend.  On Saturday the Department hosted the lovely Hummingbirds in our loft.  Folks were stomping their snowboots and clapping mittened hands.  Sunday featured another musical performance by Ghosts I Have Been.  We loved seeing how many fine citizens could squeeze into the Department to listen to some otherworldly tunes.

We have been quite busy documenting life in Shantytown for our public records.  People have been eager to record each other’s portraits in our Facebook and share home remedies for the zine we’ll be publishing.  The Popular Apothecary has cured a number of irksome ailments such as modern apathy, indecision, stuckness, and not enough time.

This week should be quieter as all the residents of Shantytown settle into their routines. Maybe we’ll even have time for a sewing circle.

A Busy Week At The Department

What a week!  When Kelsey arrived in Minneapolis on Friday after 30 plus hours of driving cross-country, Alicia had a mostly assembled shanty waiting in our build space.  With just a week to go until Opening Day the next several days were a whirlwind of activity.  Long days of building and running around preparing forms and files but mostly helping the 20 Shanties install on the ice.  The weather swung from 55 to 7 in just a few days and so out on Medicine Lake Shanty Wrangling became our daily occupation.

From levering shacks out of gaping holes to chasing down speeding runaway shanties, we were kept very busy.












Opening Day in Shantytown was on the 14th.  The Department of Everything Else was bustling with activity as visitors applied to become Shantytown citizens and filed for permits for hot dogs, dancing, building, children and yellow among other things.  We are sleeping on the lake full-time now.  With no running water or electricity our lives have become slower, colder, and simply beautiful.  Our oatmeal tastes better cooked over a woodstove.


The Popular Apothecary will be open next weekend. Come concoct a cure for what ails you – homesickness, envy, terrible dance moves – the possibilities are endless. Bring a jar or ingredients (such as herbs and found objects) to help make your cure.

We’d love to get a letter from you! Send us notes, poems, drawings, knitted things, or other creations to:

The Department of Everything Else
c/o Alicia Dvorak
2205 Bloomington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404

(be sure to let us know where to send something back!)

Kickstart it!

As the opening weekend of the projects nears, the Department of Everything Else is hard at work nailing, typing, sewing, driving cross-country and raising funds.  As we prepare to abandon our former lives for a new life in Shantytown, we’re asking for your help to make our month on-ice sustainable.  Check out our video on Kickstarter and peruse the great thank-you prizes we’re offering!  Strap on your boots everyone, the lake is firming up!

Kickstart it!