President Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. It's not actually him that's going to design and build it, though. As per usual for government projects, they're taking submissions from private contractors.
Each contractor puts forth various costs, designs, and ideas, which Trump was probably figuring would be stuff like wall shapes and structures or types of concrete.
But, well, not everyone did that.
Instead of a border wall, a group of designers has proposed a different take on the idea of a border altogether.
The MADE Collective, a group of 14 planners, architects, and engineers, want to replace the idea of a wall with something the world's never seen before — turning the border into a kind shared utopia. They're calling their project Otra Nation.
The most visually striking aspect of their idea is to replace the big concrete wall concept with a sleek, sexy hyperloop.
Hyperloops are a kind of theoretical superfast train-in-a-tube, which would make traveling along the border quicker and easier than ever. Stops would stretch west from San Diego and Tijuana east to Brownsville and Matamoros on the very southern tip of Texas. Connections would also branch off to cities such as San Francisco, Sante Fe, Dallas, and Mexico City.
If the hyperloop matched the kinds of speed Elon Musk's take on the idea proposes, a person could travel the entire border in less than three hours.
That's already an amazingly ambitious idea, but buckle your seatbelts (do hyperloops have seatbelts?), it gets bigger.
To go along with the easier travel, Otra Nation would also include a regional ID card and tweaked border control laws, which would let people easily flow between the United States and Mexico.
Nature-lovers and green techies would get some goodies too. The plan would make the border a "zero-extraction" zone (meaning no mining or oil drilling), remove the 700 miles of fencing already there, restore natural areas like wetlands and forests, and install 90,000 square kilometers of solar panel stations, which if you don't know, is a whole hell of a lot of solar power.
But it gets evenbetter. The most ambitious idea is who'd own this strip of land. Or, more precisely, who wouldn't own it.
While both nations would work together to build up the infrastructure, the area would be given a degree of autonomy. This would effectively turn the border into a shared, self-governing territory, what the MADE Collective is calling a "co-nation."
A co-nation. A little baby nation with the U.S. and Mexico as the proud parents. It'd be something we've never seen before and could change how we see international relations altogether.
Otra Nation currently has a petition on Change.org. If they get 250,000 signatures, they say they'll get the proposal hand-delivered to the presidents of both nations.
The MADE designers acknowledge the idea has a million-to-one shot, but they're serious about it.
The idea may seem a bit far-fetched, and it'll certainly require more schematics, legislation, and paperwork than their relatively brief proposal sets out.
But, well, it's estimated that Trump’s wall is going to end up costing more than $20 billion ($5 billion more than Otra Nation is asking for) and might not even work. If we're going to drop that much money on a grand idea, why not aim for something truly revolutionary?
People often say "build bridges, not walls." This would be one hell of a bridge.