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!

Friday, September 16, 2011

September Top4 Finalists

September might signal the end of summer but it also means a new season of awesome ideas coming to life in Calgary.    We're excited to announce our Back-to-School edition of Awesome Foundation, CalgaryThe line-up is fabulous. 

Top 4 Finalists: 
Reel World Youth Documentaries  - Chris Hsuing
Engaging junior high kids with community by teaching them how to seek out, storyboard, shoot, edit and produce short documentary films (aka - Vids for Kids)
Green Bikes Initiative  - Victorio Tacio
A group of temporary Foreign Workers and newcomers to Canada based in Calgary and Airdrie who  repair and recycle “green” bikes, then give them out to communities for free.
Junior Jokers - Derek Wilken 
Comedy training for kids ages 6-16 -  by creating comic book to teach skills.
Gumsphere 300 - Shawn Petsche, John Frosst, Andrew Frosst
Cannonball Run Meets Fringe Fest - a three week multi-disciplinary traveling road show across North America by Alberta's best punk rock bands, visual artists and 8 Ford Festivas.
 Honourable Mentions 
  • Easy Ace - provide free peer tutoring sessions to students on campus who need help in any of their university courses. (Easy Ace in its first semester of activity was awarded an honorable mention for "Education Club of the Year". - awesome, eh??)  Kim Lee 
  • Animated City - a series of outdoor large-scale projections on the sides of buildings
     in downtown Calgary, and a collection of super awesome interior rear
    projections in storefront windows. Caitlind Brown 
Thanks to everyone for another fun month of reviewing submissions - keep those great ideas rolling in and be sure to catch the added fun as Calgary Food Trucks join us at $1000 Thursday!   

Venue: Smart Home Systems awesome Showroom (  7130 Fisher Road SE (south of Glenmore, 1 block behind Campers Village)
Time: arrive at 6pm ... pitches start promptly at 6:30 
Food Trucks: Fiasco Gelato and Los Campadres  - grab a taco and a gelato in the parking lot and then come see 4 great teams pitch their exciting ideas ... someone is going home $1000 richer! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Awesomeness keeps spreading and spreading!

It's been a great summer throughout the Awesome Foundation as more projects have been funded and more chapters are starting to pop up around the world!

For example, Kingston, Ontario is getting set to start up their own chapter, and AF Calgary has been assisting them as mentors, along with other cities such as Lethbridge, Alberta and Turin, Italy. In fact, another city we've been mentoring, *cough*Edmonton*cough* ;-) , is about to debut their inaugural prize this month and will be holding their Pitch Night at 6 p.m. on September 29 at Latitude 53, open to the public. If you're in the Edmonton, Alberta area, make sure to check it out! And if you're interested in applying for the Edmonton prize, you can do that here.

It's been especially exciting for us here at AF Calgary as not only are we starting to see some of the chapters that we've been mentoring start to take off, but some of the processes we've come up with here in Calgary are starting to be emulated, not only by the chapters that we're mentoring, but by some of the other AF chapters as well! For example, the very first chapter, AF Boston, is currently experimenting with the Pitch Night format, and their deadline for applications is tomorrow, September 7 (To apply for the Boston grant, you can use the main application form here).

We've only been around for five months or so, but it's really satisfying to all of us here in Calgary that we're making a worldwide impact on the whole Awesome movement. Guess we're doing something right! :-)

Here on the home front, we've been pretty busy as well. Most recently, we, along with two of our previous AF-funded projects, May 2011's Audio Mob YYC and July 2011's Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes, were invited to appear on Edmonton's AM930 CJCA's ONE with Kara Murray, a weekly radio talk show every Saturday morning at 11 a.m. that takes listeners inside the heart and soul of organizations and people who are making a difference in the community.

In the end, there was so much content that instead of cutting stuff out, they've decided to run two one-hour episodes back-to-back in the next couple of weeks instead!

First up, if you've had any questions about AF Calgary or how this whole "Awesome" thing works, then you'll want to tune into Episode 9 on Saturday, September 10 as you'll be able to learn more about the Awesome Foundation in general (and AF Calgary specifically), and hear and learn more from AF Calgary's May 2011 Fellow Kiran Somanchi about his Audio Mob YYC project.

The following week, tune into Episode 10 on Saturday, September 17 to learn more about AF Calgary and hear from AF Calgary's July 2011 Fellows Claudia Bustos and Vlad Amiot about their Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes project.

You can catch ONE with Kara Murray at 11 a.m. Saturday mornings on AM930 if you're in the Edmonton area, or live-streamed through their website at If you miss the show, you can catch episodes on-demand at

In other news, August 2011 AF Calgary Fellow Matt Hamel is hard at work bringing his YYC Mobile Movie concept to life and hopes to debut it in September; keep an eye out here for all the details as they become available.

We're currently finalizing the details on our September 22 pitch night as well, and we'll be announcing those details here very, very soon...

There may be a couple more announcements to make in the coming weeks also, so keep an eye on us here or on Twitter at @awesome_calgary or Facebook at to make sure you're kept up-to-date on all the latest!

Finally, September's submission deadline for AF Calgary is getting close. This month, the deadline is Saturday, September 10 at 11:59 p.m. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!