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!