Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And one holiday party to rule them all

My momma always told me, "Awesome is as Awesome does." Next week, on Wednesday December 7, Awesome is doing it up with some 18 other meetup and topical groups to throw one of the best Christmas / Hanukkah / Winter Solstice / Pancha Ganapati / Kwanzaa / Festivus parties that there is to find in this city.

HOLIPALOOZA will see the meeting and mixed merriment of a massive multitude of magnificent mortals. Five participating awesome businesses (Melrose Cafe and Bar, Ming, Charcut, Crave Cupcakes, and Skyy Vodka) will be presenting some delectable treats for the masses and there will be a killer silent auction to boot! Each of the five businesses have chosen a local charity to be their beneficiary of their share of the collected funds.

We would love to see all of our awesome friends, pitchers, proposers, and winners help us celebrate the season, mingling with creative and fun-loving people, and helping out five worthy local charities all the while. You can get all of the information at the Holipalooza website.

Everyone is welcome, so spread the word, bring your friends, and participate in the awesomeness that is Getting Together and Giving Together!


Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Where: Melrose Cafe & Bar, 730 17 Avenue SW
Time: 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Price: $25
(Price is for access to the delectable treats. You can attend the event itself for no charge, and can still make donations and/or bid on silent auction items.)

Twitter: #HPyyc and @Holipalooza

Want to be extra awesome?

Should you wish to be extra awesome and donate an item for the silent auction, please contact Awesome Foundation Calgary trustee John Smiley at All items for the auction should have a retail value of between $50 and $100.

Holipalooza is also looking for volunteers for the night of the event. Your volunteer shift will be no more than two hours. Please also contact John at the e-mail address above to inquire.

Happy Holipalooza, and hope to see you there!

Credit where due... I totally ripped off the blog title from @kaliereadwin

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Photo Essay of the final party at BJs Gym in East Village

A number of Awesome Calgary trustees and supporters joined the Annis and Hart families to give BJ's Gym a final Ring-a Ding-Dong Dandy send off as progress makes way for the new East Village Development.   Hugs, happiness, heart-feelings were wrapped up in great local music and brilliant local art.  A truly fitting final "ring of the bell" of WWE & Stampede wrestling in Calgary. 

If anyone has stories or photos to share from this historic evening, please send to me and we can share on the site.   Thanks!

AF-Calgary Founder

Wrestling posters from by-gone days

Where blood was once shed, music is now made.

AF Calgary trustee Brian Singh and his new acquisition

Awesome can be found in everything in Calgary ... it just takes focus.

Read this wall!

Angie Annis gives the crowd a big thank you!

Amazing art ensconced the walls

beautiful instruments waiting to make beautiful music

Awesome Foundation Calgary - a proud sponsor

AF Calgary friends Mike Bowerman & Shannon Hoover - upstairs

The bands played on!

Janet Clarke Bell  - about to jam!

more fabulous art!

crowds rolled in throughout the night

Ring-a-Ding Dong, Dandy! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We "Endeavored" to end the year on an Awesome high!

Another huge thank you to our great friends, Shannon and Maria, at Endeavor Arts Gallery for hosting our last Awesome event of 2011. Just where has the year gone??!

Reg Tiangha really upped the bar for emcee'ing our events. And special thanks to our live-tweeting crew of Kelsie, Sarah and Danelle. Great job ladies ... we were trending!

The evening was perfect, the venue incredible, the weather cooperative, the enthusiasm high ... but we were missing a Top4 pitcher. Who knew that traffic on the Deerfoot at 5:30 on a Thursday evening would be snarled??

We got under way a few minutes late but with a full complement of Top4 presenters.

First up was Ed Kusmirski pitching Science Road Show "Science experiments and demonstrations for kids." Ed walked us through the science shows of years past and explained that with a little sponsorship money and a boost from AF-Calgary he could get Calgary Science Show exposed to 100s of teachers and kids across Calgary. His pitch was first-rate and he set the stage for a night of strong pitches for amazing causes. What's better than kids and science?? (Ok, I'd say kids and math -- but I'm probably kind of alone in that thought).

Up next was Lisa Demers pitching for Haysboro School "Dream Catcher" Edible Garden. Lisa played with our heartstrings and brought a team of young people (dressed as vegetables, no less!) to do a 90 second live, fully choreographed performance - including talking parts from no less than 6 children and 2 adults. That's an awful lot to cram in to 90 seconds - but they did it! And they had other little people go through the audience handing out fresh carrots from baskets. No fair, low blow! :)

Lisa and her crew are building an edible garden at their K-6 School in Haysboro and the garden is in the shape of a "dream catcher". The award-winning design will be a shining example to other schools of how to create livable art for kids to participate in and learn from. I think the entire BOD of the Haysboro School was in attendance to cheer as Lisa pitched that a grant from Awesome Foundation would go to buy boards to create the garden (and protect it from those munching bunnies).

Susan Cunningham was up next and she said what we were all thinking "wow, that is a hard act to follow!". Sue and Barb are huge advocates for kids and sports (ok, kids & science, kids & gardens, kids & sports ... all we're missing now is kids & math!) and are organizing Kids Zone Sports - a training program for kids, and their teachers alike, to teach them how to Run, Jump & Throw ... like Olympic Athletes. In conjunction with the 2012 Canadian Track & Field Championships (also the Canadian Olympic qualifying event), Kids Zone Sports will engage Canada's elite athletes with kids.

Sue then invited the Haysboro School kids to demo her training kit equipment. Ok, what's more fun than kids running and jumping in front of an audience of 100 awesome people?! (not even math can beat that!).

Rossbina Nathoo drew the last spot by virtue of having been stuck on the Deerfoot and was relieved that we held the event for her. And I have to say "Wow!" - what an amazing lady doing great things for the seniors of the city. Rossbina started FOCUS on Seniors - a program for empowering seniors by engaging them in community, helping them get board training and reducing isolation and dependance by keeping their minds and bodies active. Rossbina had us mesmerized with her work with seniors and her single-handed efforts to raise this foundation from the ground up (beginning with finding a need with her own mother to now providing support and programs for over 200 seniors). I'll admit it - I shed a tear of admiration while was she was talking.

Ok, now what?? How on earth can we pick only 1 of these 4 awesome projects that are all more than deserving of our grant? As the last Awesome event of 2011, we were ending the year on a high note but also a low note. How can so many great groups of people, supporting so many causes for this city, possibly need our money? What does this say about what has gone missing in our communities to send these incredible people to us looking for funding. How can we, as a city, do more? How can we, as individuals do more? Rhetoric for now ... but a goal to strive for indeed.

After some lively and heated discussion, fisticuffs, and a lot of "wow, how do we decide this one??" It was a close race and a very tough decision but in the end it was Haysboro School Edible Garden that won out and won the $1000 cold, hard cash! The kids were so excited at winning and at the vision of $1000 cash as it emerged from the Awesome loot bag. They each got to hold a good chunk of money for the photo that ensued. Awesome times!

Don't forget to check out BJ's Gym final hurrah Nov 25th and 26th at BJ's Gym in East Village.

And don't forget to get your ideas in for the first $1000 cash award of 2012 -- submission deadline is Jan 10. Happy Holidays to everyone ... see you at the Holipalooza on Dec 7th!

Special thanks to our own Awesome Correspondence Officer - Elissa Lynn for the great photos tonight!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Announcing AF-Calgary's November Top4 Finalists

Another month, another Top4! And what a doozy it was to narrow down the short list this month as there were so many stellar submissions. I have to say that Trustee blood was definitely shed.

That said, since we're taking December off this year (the fourth Thursday of the month falls on December 22, which is really close to the holiday season), this month's Top4 Finalists also have the distinction of being the final Top4 for 2011 as well!

So without further ado, here are AF-Calgary's Top4 finalists and Honourable Mentions for November 2011, in no particular order:

Top4 Finalists:
  1. Science Road Show by Ed Kusimirski: "Science experiments and demonstrations for kids."
  2. Haysboro School Dream Catcher Edible Garden by Lisa Demers: "In the spring of 2012, a veritable army of volunteers will build the most unique edible garden in Calgary."
  3. Sports Festival Kids Zone by Susan Cunningham: "Organize a community orientated sport and culture festival to encourage people attending the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary 2012 to get involved in sport and stay active."
  4. F.O.C.U.S. on Seniors Board Training by Rossbina Nathoo: "Offer multi-cultural seniors a variety of programs to enrich their lives by empowering them and reducing isolation."

Honourable Mentions:
  • Bondai by Tristan Zastrow: "A visual interface to bring organized structure to the internet."
  • The Cost of Lost by Jon Lord: "A series of succinct videos, each summarizing a great Alberta opportunity that was lost as a result of an inability to acquire local funding and/or Venture Capital - and speculating on what might have happened instead."
  • Voice Up by Kerry Girling: "Creating an impact. Voice is the world's first anti-bullying page that allows anyone whom has been bullied to share their experience online."
  • Enhanced Education Calgary by Liam Finn & Michael Manzano: "Fostering creativity and innovation in Calgary youth by allowing them to learn practical life skills from leaders in the community."
  • Maker Faire Calgary Launch by Ben Reed: "We are bringing a Maker Faire to Calgary in June 2012 and we need a community launch party!"
  • Rink Rat by Robert Smith: "To purchase a snowblower for the Killarney outdoor rink."
  • Senior Lion Dance Club by Lisa Chan: "Seniors promoting multiculturalism to a wide variety of service organizations."
  • Youth Rock Camp by Darren Ollinger: "A program for musically inclined youth to meet with others at their age and level of skill to create bands and really showcase the immense talent."
Obviously, since this will be the final no-strings-attached $1,000 grant that we'll be awarding this year, we had a lot of submissions to pour through, and much Trustee blood was shed in determining a Top4 as well as Honourable Mentions from so many submissions.

For those who have projects or ideas that are not time-sensitive, we invite you to apply again (whether it was this month or in months previous)! The next submission deadline for the January 2012 prize is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, January 10. To submit an idea for consideration (old or new), fill out this handy-dandy web form.

AF-Calgary's November 2011 Thousand Dollar Thursday, the final one of 2011, will be held at the same place where we began back in April to help close out our first calendar year: at the Endeavor Arts Gallery.

More details in this post here, but to sum up:
  • When: Thursday, November 24, 2011
  • Where: Endeavor Arts Gallery (1209 1st St SW #200)
  • Time: Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 6:15ish
Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 14, 2011

And the circle is now complete

It all started about 10 months ago thanks to a fateful trip down Bow Trail.

Since then, with the help of ordinary Calgarians donating money each month out of their own pockets, AF-Calgary's given away seven no strings attached $1,000 micro-grants (that's $7,000 to date!) to enable fellow Calgarians to pursue their awesome ideas, and helped bring exposure to many more ideas, with connections or even additional sponsorship being made or found through our monthly Pitch Nights and other avenues.

We've accomplished a lot in 10 months. We've helped show ordinary Calgarians a new way to get into philanthropy and to help make the community better, we've helped mentor new Awesome Foundation chapters around the world, most recently in Edmonton, Alberta and Kingston, Ontario, and we've helped pioneer an awards process that some other AF chapters are starting to experiment with.

We're about to award our eighth $1,000 micro-grant next Thursday, which also has the honour of being the final micro-grant awarded by AF-Calgary for 2011.

You see, typically we hold our Thousand Dollar Thursdays on the fourth Thursday of the month, just to keep things consistent. However, since the fourth Thursday of December falls awfully close to the holidays (December 22), we figured it'd be difficult to get people out. So we're going to do something a little different for December (stay tuned for details!) and instead, we've decided to close out 2011 this month where we began.

That's right, our venue for November's Thousand Dollar Thursday and AF-Calgary's final Pitch Night for 2011 was also our very first: The Endeavor Arts Gallery. We figured that a great way to close out our first calendar year of operation would be to do so where it all began.

Located on 1st Street and 12th Ave SW and directly across the street from Hotel Arts, the Endeavor Arts Gallery is a contemporary mixed media and new media gallery that provides "a space that first of all caters to the new ways that art is generated today, as well as the new ways in which we consume it."

In the short time it's been around, the Endeavor Arts Gallery has quickly become a community hub in the area, hosting many events open to the public for free or low-cost such as potlucks, Geek Movie Nights, First Thursday Artwalks, We Should Know Each Other parties, build-your-own robot nights, and so much more.

So please join us next Thursday, November 24 at the Endeavor Arts Gallery for AF-Calgary's final Thousand Dollar Thursday of 2011. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will start around 6:15ish. We hope to see you there! And if you're coming, RSVP on Facebook and Yelp!

And finally, if you're looking to submit an Awesome Idea for consideration for AF-Calgary's January $1,000 prize, our next submission deadline is Tuesday, January 10, 2012. That's a lot of time to get your thinking caps working, so get started!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The B.J.'s Gym Show is moving along nicely!

Just a quick status update from Angie Annis and her team, winners of AF-Calgary's October $1,000 prize.

They've been spending the last few days getting B.J.'s Gym all prettied up for the big farewell bash on the last weekend of November.

As you'll see from the following pictures, artists have been hard at work painting and decorating both the interior and exterior in preparation for the party at the end of the month.

There's still lots of work left to be done of course, but things are moving along nicely!

As more details become available, we'll share them with you here so stay tuned. In the meantime, make sure you save the date (November 25 & 26) and we hope we'll see you there!

Friday, October 28, 2011

It was a Ring-a-Ding-Dong Dandy!

Last night's Thousand Dollar Thursday took place in the Kasian Gallery in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.

According to Wikipedia, Environmental Design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters when devising plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products, which made the location an ideal venue for an AF-Calgary Pitch Night.

Of course, what made it more awesome was the presence of a Pterodactyl.

It was with that backdrop that Calgary's Top4 Finalists for the month of October took the stage in order to attempt to WOW the AF-Calgary Trustees within 90 seconds and convince them why they should be awarded the $1,000 prize.

Hosted this month by our very own Trustee of Awesome Jeff Wielki, he started off with a brief overview of the Awesome Foundation, and even plotted a map showing how Awesome Foundation chapters are starting to pop up around the world. He mentioned that AF-Calgary, despite being only seven months old, is leading the Awesome movement by mentoring new chapters such as Edmonton, Alberta and Turin, Italy, and that many chapters are experimenting with adopting some of the concepts that were developed right here at AF-Calgary, like Pitch Nights.

Jeff, wanting to demonstrate that we do indeed eat our own dog food here at AF-Calgary, launched into a 90 second pitch of his own describing who he was and why he's excited to be a part of Team AF-Calgary. In this writer's opinion, I think he summed it up quite nicely at the end when he said the reason he sticks around is because he "drank the kool-aid, and it was delicious," although he forgot to mention how "awesomely delicious" that kool-aid truly is.

And with that, the night began in earnest with October's Top4 Pitches:

Pitch 1: The SoJo

First up was Trevor Gair, speaking on behalf of his SoJo project, an online destination that would help inspire and empower youth to dream big and engage in social entrepreneurship, providing them with the tools and resources to help turn their ideas for social change into reality.

Trevor spoke very passionately about his project, and according to him, his SoJo project is all about people with ideas, giving them a platform to connect and the tools they need to launch their social programs, projects, ventures, and enterprises that, through execution, will ultimately improve the quality of life for people in communities around the world.

The $1,000 would be used to help further develop the SoJo online web portal, which is currently in closed beta phase, as well as help the team expand the outreach of the program.

Pitch 2: AcceleratorYYC

Up next was Christian MacLean, speaking on behalf of AcceleratorYYC, an entrepreneur lead co-work space tailored to the unique needs and challenges of pre-launch and pre-product startups. They aim to be an incubator and accelerator space for early-stage technology start-ups based in Inglewood that the community can draw resources from.

In their original submission, they indicated that they would have liked to use the $1,000 to help with setup costs, to bring in knowledgeable speakers that people can learn from, and to help fund other community events in their space.

However, come pitch time, in an act of generosity, they decided to change up their pitch at the last minute after seeing and connecting with Trevor Gair as he pitched his SoJo idea, saying that if AcceleratorYYC won the $1,000, they would match it and donate the funds to the SoJo project and allow Trevor use of their space to help implement his idea.

Connections such as this one are routinely made at AF-Calgary events, which is one of the hopes that we had when we originally came up with the whole Pitch Night format (which at the time, wasn't done at any of the AF chapters around the world). Knowing that there are so many Awesome Ideas here in Calgary, we wished to expose as many of them as possible to anyone who's watching or paying attention. As there is only one $1,000 prize that we can award (mainly because the prize money comes out of our own pockets each month, and since many of us are ordinary Calgarians ourselves, we ain't rich), by exposing the ideas to others, the hope was that someone somewhere might see those ideas and offer to help those people bring it to fruition in whatever way they can.

So thanks AcceleratorYYC for donating your pitch time to SoJo and for being so generous!

Pitch 3: The B.J.'s Gym Show

Third up was Angie Annis, wishing to put on a community event entitled the B.J.'s Gym Show, an event that would celebrate over 40 years of history at the historic B.J.'s Gym in Calgary's East Village.

For long-time Calgarians, B.J.'s Gym plays an integral role in Calgary's wrestling history. Many famous Stampede Wrestlers trained and performed here over the years, and those who know about the lineage of B.J.'s Gym and how it came to be knows how tightly strong that gym is tied to the Hart family, a family known around the world for their contributions to professional wrestling (the gym was founded by B.J. Annis, Angie's father, who married Georgia Hart).

Angie wishes to throw one last big hurrah at the gym before it's torn down, celebrating over 40 years of rich history at the gym as well as honouring Stu Hart's legacy, while at the same time, looking forward to the future. With live music and artists showcasing their work, plus hosting some very special guests who've all had an important role in the history of B.J.'s Gym, Angie hopes to throw one giant bash that all Calgarians can participate in at the gym over the final weekend of November.

Angie and her team submitted a detailed cost breakdown of how they would use the $1,000. Most of the money would go to advertising and marketing materials, while the rest would go towards attaining the proper city permits and licenses, as well as be spent on logistical items such as equipment rentals and other items needed to host and run the event.

They also brought a Pterodactyl.

Pitch 4: L.E.G.A.C.Y.

Final pitch of the night went to Shana Ng speaking about the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program.

L.E.G.A.C.Y. stands for "Lift, Empower, Guide, and Advocate for Calgary Youth" and wishes to pass on valuable skills and knowledge to generations of high risk youth so they can make healthier and safer choices.

Conceived by four nurses who work at Wood's Homes, a social service agency that serves 20,000 vulnerable children and their families every year, the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program will focus on areas to teach youth the skills to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain a positive sense of well being. Areas include smoking cessation, physical activity, health topics, nutrition, and hygiene.

The $1,000 would help operate the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program by helping to fund supplies, educational materials, transportation, and other program costs.

It was another tough night for the Trustees to decide which project idea to award the $1,000 to, but after a very long deliberation, a decision was made.

And the winner is...

AF-Calgary's October 2011 no-strings-attached $1,000 winner is the B.J.'s Gym Show. Angie and her team will be hosting the farewell party on the final weekend of November, and all of Calgary is invited. Stay tuned here as we'll let you know more about the details of the bash as they become available.

Thanks to the Faculty of Environmental Design and the University of Calgary for allowing us to host our event this month at the Kasian Gallery. It's a wonderful space with innovative exhibits, so if you're ever on campus, you should make time to check it out.

Kudos to everyone who submitted an idea for consideration this month, and congratulations to all of our Top4 Finalists and Honourable Mentions this month!

Finally, a special thank you to Elissa Lynn for helping us with photography duties for the night, and Tara Prudhomme for helping with the live-tweeting.

Congratulations Angie!

We're currently accepting submissions for the final Thousand Dollar Thursday event of 2011, taking place on Thursday, November 24 at the Endeavor Arts Gallery. As the fourth Thursday of December falls awfully close to the holidays, we're going to take December off and figured it would be fitting if we ended the calendar year where we began back in April (has it been that long?). It's going to be a big one, so save the date and we hope to see you there!

The deadline for submissions for the November 2011 prize is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 10. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Thanks again to everyone who made time to come down last night, and we hope to see you again in November!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Awesome Foundation Melbourne Write-up

To give you some more insight into how Awesome works around the world, here's an article from Australia online magazine The Weekly Review which offers some great insight into Melbourne's experience so far.

Go, have a read. There's a ton of ideas there that you can use to inspire your own creativity.

Totally Awesome in The Weekly Review

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Awesome Around the World

As you may have gathered by now, Awesome Foundation Calgary wants to foster unique and innovative ideas here in our own town. I am a firm believer that great ideas, more often than not, spring from other great ideas. It's a rare occasion when I have a great idea that blooms as a unique and singular event. In almost every case, it rises from some external inspiration.

To help to foster the generation of awesome ideas (some of which we hope you'll submit to us, desirous of our soon-to-be-legendary monthly grant of $1,000 to help bring your idea into reality), we intend to give you some regular updates of the ideas that have won grants in other cities around the world. There are now two dozen chapters of the Awesome Foundation, each one helping to bring what they deem to be awesome ideas from the unconscious to the conscious, from the ether to the Earth.

Three recent grants of note were from Melbourne, Boston, and the Food Chapter. (The last one, unlike the first two, is not a place. There is no city of Food. It's a chapter dedicated

Melbourne gave their grant to two ladies who presented an idea called I Have I Need. A series of community notice boards will be painted onto blank walls of coffee shops, vacant walls surrounding construction, or other such places. The black chalk-board paint will allow community residents to write what they have and no longer need, or what they require, along with contact information. The boards are meant to transform otherwise blank and unused walls into public spaces encouraging people to meet and interact with their neighbours, as well as encouraging greener communities and reusing or repurposing things that might otherwise be headed for the dump.

It's seems that painting things, in one way or another, was a common theme in September. In Boston (where, you may recall, Awesome Foundation got its start), the grant was awarded to mural artist Caleb Neelon, granting him the funds necessary to transform a walls at Tobin School. Instead of a leaving them as the blank canvases that they were, attractive (and permitted) graffiti was applied.

Awesome Foundation, Food Chapter gave their grant to Compost Mobile, a Miami-based residential compost service that provides a pick-up service for food scraps, delivering them to urban farms and community gardens. This can't have been easy, as 600 applications were received for Awesome Food's inaugural grant. Compost Mobile was itself a project of a Miami non-profit, and with this grant, can expand the service that they are presently providing to the community.

So what do you think? Have any ideas been shaken loose from the idea tree? Are there some barely perceptible, yet still there, proto-ideas sprouting?

Awesome Foundation Calgary has a monthly deadline for the submission of ideas. In order for your idea to be considered for any given months' grant, we must receive your idea on or before the 10th day of that month. Our next deadline is November 10, so get your ideas in!

Yes Awesome is for real. Now let's make real your awesome, shall we?

Monday, October 24, 2011

October's Thousand Dollar Thursday Awards Night Details

If you haven't heard by now, this month's Thousand Dollar Thursday will be taking place at the Kasian Gallery in the Professional Faculties building (room 2145) at the University of Calgary. Doors open at 6 p.m. See the map above for more details on the exact location.

If you're a transit user, the University is easily accessible by C-Train or bus.

If you're planning on driving down, there are a couple of lots that you can park at. Lot 28 is the closest to the Professional Faculties building and is $3.50 an hour. Lot 32 is still close and is $5 flat rate. Off campus, Capitol Hill Crescent has sections of non-permit free parking and is alongside the LRT station.

So lots of transportation options if you're thinking of making the trek down.

Now that said, there is a small change in program to the night.

You see, when we evaluate the monthly submissions, we do our best to strip away any identifiable information that was submitted along with it so that we can judge the idea based on the merit of the idea itself. It's always tough to narrow down the choices to a Top4, and some months (like this one and the last few) are especially close, but we usually end up with a final four at the end of the night's deliberations somehow, even though some Trustee blood may have been spilled in the process.

The cool thing about how the entire Awesome Foundation is set up is that you can apply for a grant at any of the chapters around the world. Most chapters have a preference to fund projects in their own communities, but as we like to say around here: "Nothing is off the table." In fact, the Awesome Foundation - Food Chapter takes entries from around the world, and its Trustees reside all around the world as well.

Sometimes we here at AF-Calgary get submissions from outside of Calgary, and on our form, we do our best to notify people not to apply unless they can be at the Awards Night. But sometimes, life happens and they can't make it.

One such thing happened this month. Nick Oswald, who pitched us his Bee-utiful City idea which wanted to set up bee hives in the city to help pollinate flowers planted in urban gardens, made AF-Calgary's Top4 for October, but as Nick resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he couldn't make it down in time to pitch his idea this Thursday.

So in his place, our Honourable Mention for this month, The Accelerator Calgary, which hopes to become an incubator and accelerator space for early stage technology start-ups in the city, will be pitching in his place.

Therefore, the night will look like this:
  • The Accelerator Calgary by Victoria Maclean: "To create a startup accelerator in Inglewood."
  • L.E.G.A.C.Y. by Shana Ng: "Lift, Empower, Guide, and Advocate for Calgary Youth – passing on the skills and knowledge to generations of high risk youth so they can make healthier and safer choices."
  • SoJo by Trevor Gair: "SoJo will be the foremost online destination to inspire and empower youth to dream big and engage in social entrepreneurship."
  • B.J. Gym Show - Honoring 40 Years of Calgary's Community and Artists by Angie Annis: "To bring together Calgary finest artists to honour 40 years of arts and community in Calgary."
Congratulations to Nick for making our Top4 this month, and best of luck in getting your idea implemented in other cities! And congratulations to Victoria; we definitely look forward to learning more about your exciting idea to help foster the tech industry in this city and in this province!

In the meantime, we'll try our best to do better to communicate that we prefer people to submit an idea only if they can make it to our pitch nights, and we hope that you can join us at the University of Calgary this Thursday to learn more about four very awesome ideas that hope to make Calgary a better place.

And just a reminder, we're currently taking submissions for our November 2011 prize. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 10. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reel World Videos making a real difference!

Here's a quick update from Chris Hsuing & Kate McKenzie  - September 2011 Awesome Winners

"It's very, very exciting to see the girls in the class start to work with their story idea. The audio equipment we spent the money on has made a big difference." ~Chris Hsuing
Follow their exciting journey with the kids as they capture amazing stories from their lives and life around them!  Read (and see!) their blog here: Reel World Youth

Week 2: - Winning the Awesome $1000 grant

Exciting news! Kate and I have managed to secure funding from a couple sources to purchase small video kits for our student teams. 

First we got one thousand dollars in cold hard no-strings attached cash from Awesome Calgary. And I have to say we rocked that pitch. Take a look at our 90 second pitch and answers to the Q and A.
Next we have received word that the Calgary Foundation Stepping Stone grant is also helping us out with another six hundred dollars.

With this money we’ll be able to build video kits that the twenty student teams will be able to use to shoot their story. It means a lot to us because this means we can take Reel World Youth to other schools or groups of youth that may not have the resources to afford their own equipment.

I’m very excited by the prospect of what hordes of kids with video cameras and a desire to seek out inspirational or important stories will find. It seems that others have found the project interesting as well. I’ve had a few people approach me with other ideas such as taking it into the homeschooling network or even into organizations who work with kids.

Lots of great opportunities but the first things first. Let’s get some film projects off the ground!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Announcing October's AF-Calgary Top4 Finalists

Another tough month, but somehow we were able to whittle down the list of this month's submissions to four.

So without further ado, here are October's Top4 Finalists and Honourable Mentions, in no particular order:

Top4 Finalists:
  1. Bee-autiful City by Nick Oswald: "Set up Bee Hives in the city to help pollinate all the flowers that are planted by both residences and businesses."
  2. L.E.G.A.C.Y. by Shana Ng: "Lift, Empower, Guide, and Advocate for Calgary Youth – passing on the skills and knowledge to generations of high risk youth so they can make healthier and safer choices."
  3. SoJo by Trevor Gair: "SoJo will be the foremost online destination to inspire and empower youth to dream big and engage in social entrepreneurship."
  4. BJ Gym Show - Honoring 40 Years of Calgary's Community and Artists by Angie Annis: "To bring together Calgary finest artists to honour 40 years of arts and community in Calgary."
Honourable Mentions:
October's Thousand Dollar Thursday will be held at the Kasian Gallery (room 2145) in the Professional Faculties building at the University of Calgary on Thursday, October 27 starting at 6 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

And remember: We're now taking submissions for the November prize. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 10. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Someone's gonna get a thousand dollars!

Well folks, it's that time again!

Tonight, the AF-Calgary Trustees will meet to pick October's Top4 Finalists (as well as the Honourable Mentions) from the list of submissions we've received this month, who will then be invited to pitch at next week's Thousand Dollar Thursday.

This month, we'll be hosting the festivities at the Kasian Gallery (room 2145) in the Professional Faculties building at the University of Calgary on Thursday, October 27 starting at 6 p.m.

Further parking, transit, and other details will be provided as we get closer to next Thursday, but make sure to hold the date, and we hope to see you there!

And just a reminder: We're currently taking submissions for the November prize. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 10. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Hope to see you all there, and stay tuned tomorrow for the announcement of AF-Calgary's October Top4 Finalists.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Play it again, Sam!

In other news, Matt Hamel's YYC Mobile Movie project, winner of the August 2011 AF-Calgary award, will debut tomorrow night (September 24) at the RiverWalk Plaza in the East Village.

You're invited to a movie night under the stars, where family-friendly Casablanca will be projected onto the side of the Simmons Mattress Building for all to see for free!

Open to the public, feel free to bring a lawn chair and your friends (along with their lawn chairs) and enjoy a beloved movie classic under the stars.

The movie starts at 8 p.m., but feel free to come down earlier as Fiasco Gelato and Los Compadres (food stars of last night's AF-Calgary Thousand Dollar Thursday) will be bringing their food trucks down for the event. Also, for all you coffee aficionados, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters will have a booth as well.

To RSVP, you can do that through their official Facebook page or Yelp. For more details, see here.

And speaking of playing things again, if you were worried that you missed our radio interview with Edmonton's AM930 CJCA's ONE with Kara Murray last week, well good news: You didn't actually miss anything! Due to a scheduling conflict at the radio station, those episodes didn't air (hey, we've all been there, right?).

The good news is that they will air starting this Saturday (September 24). So if you're in the Edmonton area, tune into AM930 or check out their live stream online at starting at 11 a.m. and hear myself (Reg Tiangha) speak about AF-Calgary, as well as AF-Calgary's May 2011 Fellow Kiran Somanchi speak about his Audio Mob YYC project.

Next Saturday (October 1), tune in again at 11 a.m. to hear myself as well as AF-Calgary's July 2011 Fellows Claudia Bustos and Vlad Amiot speak about their project, Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes.

And finally, while we're still on the topic of Edmonton, did you know that Edmonton's starting up their own AF chapter? Their Pitch Night is coming up pretty quickly; 6 p.m. on September 29 at Latitude 53. For all the details, check out their website at

...and, That's a Wrap!

You know, we've only been at it for about six months or so, but the submissions and pitches seem to get stronger and stronger, and the decisions tougher and tougher every month.

This month was no different as we had four strong ideas to choose from, and with only 90 seconds to 'wow' the Trustees and the audience, it made for an interesting night.

This time, taking place in the beautiful showroom of Smart Home Systems, a local Calgary company dedicated to home automation solutions (and if you're ever in the area, you should check out their sexy home theatres and nifty golf simulator!), finalists, spectators and Trustees were treated to some wonderful food fare from two of Calgary's hottest food trucks, Los Compadres and Fiasco Gelato.

Hosted this month by our very own Trustee of Awesome Brian Singh, he started off with something new: a 90 second pitch of his own, talking about himself and why he joined AF-Calgary. We'll be doing this every month from now on (because we really should be eating our own dog food ;-) ), and over the period of a year or so, you'll be able to meet and get to know all of the Trustees (and all of our dirty secrets).

Pitch 1: Gumsphere 300

First up was John Frosst speaking on behalf of Gumsphere 300. Inspired by Gumball 3000, an endurance checkpoint rally for the world's richest drivers with the most expensive cars, and described as "Cannonball Run meets Fringe Fest," John gave us a glimpse of his vision what a travelling road-show should be, which should be done with nothing but artists driving Ford Fiestas rather than expensive cars.

One thing you should know is that John arrived really early for the evening and even volunteered to help us set up the venue. His passion for the night and his project really shined through, and everyone was able to see that. Thanks John!

Pitch 2: Junior Jok

Next up was local funnyman and self-professed fool Derek Wilken talking about taking his Junior Jokers program to the next level by creating comic books to teach children aged 6-16 basic comedic training.

With characters based on five elements of stand-up comedy and taking place in a land called "Laugh-a-lot," educational comic books would be created and given away to children to teach them the skills they need to make other people laugh.

The interesting thing about Derek's pitch was that the audience (Trustees included) was so entranced in his presentation that when the 90 second alarm had sounded, the audience let out a perceptible "aww" as they wanted to hear more. While it's true that a lot can be said in 90 seconds, keep in mind that 90 seconds isn't much time either!

Pitch 3: Green Bikes Initiative

Third up was Victorio Tacio with his Green Bikes Initiative where he would organize groups of temporary foreign workers and newcomers to Canada based in Calgary and Airdrie and repair and recycle bicycles and give them out to communities for free.

While there may be some other programs in town that do similar things already, Victorio's project would teach potential new Canadians useful skills that could help them later on when they gain their citizenship and make them more productive members of society. From watching his presentation, you could see that he was passionate about the idea and thought it through well, mentioning that he's already consulted with RCMP and the University of Calgary in regards to logistics and legal issues.

Pitch 4: Reel World Documentaries (a.k.a. Vids for Kids)

The final pitch of the night went to Chris Hsuing and Kate McKenzie with their Reel World Youth Documentaries idea (a.k.a. Vids for Kids) where they proposed teaching school children documentary film making in order for them to learn analytical, investigative, and team building skills, and to help expose them to issues facing the community by allowing them to work on interesting local documentary projects. They would use the money to build video/audio kits that could be loaned out to students to assist them with their projects, add a bit of pro panache to the children's films, and intend to screen all the films created this year some time in December 2011.

In what could be considered as a down-right dirty move by some, and an absolutely brilliant move by others, Chris and Kate had one of their Grade 8 students speak on how the project could impact them and what they hoped to gain from it if it were to go forward. The amazing thing was that they were able to squeeze in three speakers in 90 seconds. It was a fast-paced yet well prepared pitch that captured people's attention.

In the end, it was another deliberation that went through multiple rounds of voting and debate, and while everyone will agree wholeheartedly that all the ideas were worthy, as they say, there can be only one (mainly because we ain't rich).


And with that, the winner of the AF-Calgary September 2011 $1,000 grant went to Reel World Documentaries by Chris and Kate. They intend to start right away this semester in getting the school kids to create their films, and want to screen them by the end of the year. Congratulations, and we look forward to seeing what gets created!

Thanks to everyone who submitted an idea for consideration this month, as well as to this month's Top4 Finalists and Honourable Mentions. If you'd like to learn more about those projects and ideas, hit up the Idea Incubator of our site. And if you'd like to submit an idea for consideration for the October 2011 prize, simply fill out this handy-dandy web form! The deadline for submissions is October 10 at 11:59 p.m.

Thanks again to Smart Home Systems for hosting our event this month. If you ever get a chance, drop by their venue and check it out; the funky things you can do with an iPad in controlling your home will blow your mind. And as we're always looking for awesome places in Calgary to highlight, if you're interested in hosting one of our awards nights in the future, give Lisa or myself (Reg!) a shout!

Also, a BIG Thank You to the YYC Food Trucks, specifically Los Compadres and Fiasco Gelato for sending their food trucks our way. The audience definitely appreciated it (and we really appreciated that you guys took the time to come down). You guys are another quintessential example of what makes Calgary awesome!

Finally, thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy day to make the trek down. We hope to see you again next month, and stay tuned for the announcement of our October venue!