‘This Machine Has A Soul’ Attempts To Put Some Fun Into Budgeting Processes

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Photo: This Machine has a Soul art installation
"This Machine has a Soul" art installation in a detached garage in north Denver.

Rube Goldberg machines are elaborate contraptions that execute simple tasks through a convoluted process. Evan Weissman sees these devices as the ideal metaphor for how the government budgeting process works.

Weissmann founded Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a Denver nonprofit focused on civic health. Warm Cookies’ latest project involves these Rube Goldberg machines and is called "This Machine has a Soul."

For this community project, Warm Cookies of the Revolution recruited local artists to create a Rube Goldberg machine that represents the current budgeting process and another machine that’s representative of participatory budgeting. In participatory budgeting, residents get to decide how to invest a portion of the public budget. Weissman told Colorado Matters they’re piloting two participatory budgeting projects, using private funds, in Denver.

Art also plays a large role in “This Machine has a Soul.” An art installation in a detached garage in north Denver is up through Aug. 20. It features a “museum of repeated history,” paintings, murals, a restored 1953 Chevy Bel Air and “a closet of souls” that shows videos of residents talking about how they use creativity to address challenges in their neighborhood.