Say “aloha” to Hawaii 2, Maine’s most inappropriately named island. Land there is cheap, and they’re parceling it out by the square foot.
The recent renaming of Birch Island in St. George Lake is part prank, part philanthropy, orchestrated by a Chicago company that prides itself on being irreverent and politically incorrect.
Game-maker Cards Against Humanity LLC purchased the pristine, 6-acre private island for about $200,000 on Oct. 31 from the Bedke/Fox Family Trust, according to Waldo County records.
This month, the company sent certificates to about 250,000 participants in a holiday fundraising campaign it had organized, granting each of them “exclusive” license to 1 square foot of the island.
“You may name your square foot of land. You may use the entire private island for passive, non-commercial, non-motorized recreational activities,” the certificate reads. “You may tell people at parties that you own part of a private island.”
Participants in the charitable campaign, dubbed “Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa,” agreed to pay $15 each in exchange for 10 “mystery gifts” that were announced over 10 consecutive days. The final gift was a square foot of the island. Other mystery gifts included custom cards for the Cards Against Humanity game, stickers with curse words on them, and “tablets that temporarily make sour foods taste sweet.”
One dollar from every $15 purchase went to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which promotes openness and transparency in government. The company is a vocal supporter of open government and freedom of speech issues.
Company co-creator Max Temkin said he does not know whether the island’s actual, legal name has been changed to Hawaii 2. Local government officials were not available Tuesday to weigh in on the question.
What’s important is that a friend who works at Google managed to get the name changed on Google Maps by showing a colleague the deed of purchase, Temkin said.
Why Hawaii 2? “It’s the Maine island,” he said. Rimshot!
The island purchase was made to raise money for charity, preserve a small piece of wilderness and make people laugh, Temkin said, adding that the company chose Birch Island because it is beautiful, reasonably remote and inexpensive – for an island.
“They had an asking price that was right around our budget,” he said.
Founded in 2011 and initially funded through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, Cards Against Humanity – a play on “crimes against humanity,” carried out similar charitable campaigns in 2012 and 2013, though it did not buy any land masses.
On its website, the company explained its recent island purchase thusly: “A couple years ago, we made a joke that with the money we donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, we could have bought a small private island. That gave us an idea: to buy a small private island.”
The game-maker is not actually selling sections of the uninhabited, undeveloped island, foot by foot. However, each participant in the campaign may lay claim to a square foot of the island and plant a flag on it, supplied by the company.
Cards Against Humanity produces an eponymous card game that is based around humor, pop-culture references, sexual innuendo and profanity. The company’s website describes it as “a party game for horrible people.”
Each player is dealt 10 white cards on which a name, word or phrase is printed. Examples include “Genghis Khan’s DNA,” “genetically engineered super-soldiers,” and “passive-aggressive Post-it notes.”
A randomly selected player then draws a black card from a separate deck that has a question or fill-in-the-blank sentence on it. For example, “Why am I broke?” or “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s ____.”
Players choose the white cardfrom their hand that they believe offers the most humorous answer or completed sentence to what is printed on the black card. The winner of each round can be chosen by the black-card holder or democratically among all players. The game is not for children, as many of the cards contain crude sexual references and profanity.
A group of friends initially created the card game for a New Year’s party. It was first made available to the public in a digital, print-at-home version. Then in early 2011, the creators raised more than $15,000 through the crowdfunding campaign, allowing them to begin making and selling professionally printed versions of the game.
Cards Against Humanity has achieved wide popularity and become a bestseller on Amazon.com. Several themed expansion packs containing additional black-and-white cards also have been released.