Friday, August 26, 2011

Guerrilla gatherings are afoot in Calgary!

It was another hard-fought battle with 4 VERY good pitches this month.

The evening started out with Darcy and Greg from Dade Gallery being the most gracious hosts and rearranging their incredible gallery displays (the Secret Life of Bicycles) around to accommodate our ever-growing crowd of Awesome spectators.   If you've never been to the Dade Design Lab in Inglewood - you simply MUST put in it on your top10 list of things to do in Calgary this year!

The 90 second pitches were superb again this month.  If you didn't know, the finalists have only 1 week notice to get their 90 second pitch together and, other than 4 basic bullet points of guidance,  we don't give them any coaching at all.  The pitches we see at Awesome rival some of the best I've witnessed in 100s of tech forums across North America!!  

Awesome Trustee Chris Salmon, our very own Simon Cowell (in accent only!), emcee'd the evening superbly and his family even traveled across the Atlantic and the entire country of Canada to attend this month's event.  Now, that is awesome!

First Up:  Tony Grimes and "Music Everywhere" 

Tony had the most innovative and hauntingly beautiful pitch of the evening ... it started with Aaron playing the saxophone and ended with the entire audience enthused and intrigued by the prospect of having music - delivered by bicycle- to community gardens around the city.

Tony said he was inspired to submit his idea after attending July Awesome fellows Claudia & Vlad "Illuminating Calgary" events.  Now THAT is awesome!  

 Next Up:  Lisa and Maria - HSCA Garden Market

 The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association runs an amazing farmers market and this awesome idea is to bring some focus and fun on the celebration of the harvest season.   Lisa and Maria spoke with such passion about the community aspects of growing food and our need to both share the fruits of those labours and to celebrate them!    

A celebration of Urban Agriculture... the first of an annual competition celebrating what can be grown within the city limits of Calgary.

There are many exciting and fun events planned for this event that takes place on Oct 5th (3:30pm to 7:00 pm) and if you're looking to help out - they could really use your help!  (P.S: shhhhhh ...rumour has it that they might have a beer garden!)

Lucky man Darcy (of Dade Gallery) won the giant zucchini they passed through the crowd! We were thankful they didn't pass around a 400lb pumpkin. 

Third Up:  Mary and "Word Powered Art"

 Mary gave us the most inspiring, quick-witted and bubbly pitch of the evening as she spoke passionately about peppering word art into world of commercialism on digital billboards around the city.  Associated with the 16th annual Wordfest event, Word Powered Art aims to bring a commercial break to ads on billboards with flashes of word art created by world-renowned word artist, Angela Silver.  

Check out Wordfest's exciting lineup for their Oct 11 -12 festival devoted entirely to sharing the power of words in new ways.

Finally - and last but not least - Matthew Hamel and "YYC Mobile Movie" (aka Guerilla Drive-in)
Matt gave us a thorough and fast-paced pitch on the power of bringing people together in a free venue to share in the glory of old classic movies, free popcorn... and food trucks!  - all in an free-form outdoor venue.   Matt's idea is to show Casablanca on the side of the old Simmons Building in the fabulously evolving East Village in September (stayed tuned for the exact date and time). 
"Casablance is an undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, Casablanca has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman."
Casablanca scores an amazing 97% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and 94% from 319,000 user reviews!  It's a MUST-see for anyone who has never seen it and a must re-see for those who have!

Matt plans on spreading this concept around the city at various venues - any brick wall will do!


After another very tough deliberation and decision by the 11 trustees in attendance  ... but in the end we all agreed that as much as all the ideas were more than worthy of our grant, YYCMobileMovies was the stand out!  Congratulations to Matt and we can't wait to see Casablanca with you on and warm September evening!

Follow @yycmobilemovie to get the scoop on a movie coming soon to a wall near you! 

* special thanks to our own "Administrator of Awesome" Lisa Crosby for working so hard with our venue sponsors and Elissa Lynn "Awesome Correspondence Leader and roving Photographer" for these photos.   Amy Darling wasn't with us for this event but as "Awesome Success Liaison" she was instrumental in helping "AudioMob" and "Illuminate Calgary" be the amazing events they were!  

Awesome is an all volunteer organization and the power of these amazing people can truly not be measured.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

August Pitch n'Party - Thousand Dollar Thursday

Come and see the Top4 finalists pitch for the $1000 C A S H. (yes, cash!  remember what that is?!) - Thursday, Aug 25th 6pm at DaDe Art & Design Lab in Inglewood - the COOLEST gallery space I've seen in Calgary! 

Sign up on our Facebook event or just show up ... the more, the awesomer! 

Click for more info about the event and DaDe awesome gallery.

  • Top4 Finalists:
    • Music Everywhere! (Tony Grimes) 
      Bringing music to where music is needed most - community gardens that are growing our food.

    • Word Powered Art (Jo Steffens) 
      Text-based art to be displayed on digital billboards.

    • HSCA Harvest Market (Joe Vipond)
      A celebration of Urban Agriculture... the first of an annual competition celebrating what can be grown within the city limits of Calgary.

    • Free Classic Movie - aka Guerrilla Drive-in (Matt Hamel) 
      Join like-minded Calgarians outside the Simmons Mattress Factory part of the new Riverwalk to watch Casablanca under the stars for free. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August is an Awesome month!

By the time August rolls around, it seems that everyone is in high gear to squeeze as much out of our short summer as possible before it rapidly rolls into September.   Thus, we assumed Awesome submissions and interest would wane a little this month ... boy, were we wrong! 

15 incredible submissions this month made it another very tough month to narrow it down to just 4 awesome ideas.  Do you have any idea how tough it is to be surrounded by so much creativity, innovation, hope for the future and just all-around awesomeness and then be limited to selecting just 4 of those ideas to come and pitch to us??  It keeps me up at night wondering how we can find ways to reward more of these incredible people of Calgary and their inspiring ideas. 

  • Top4 Finalists:
    • Music Everywhere! (Tony Grimes) 
      Bringing music to where music is needed most - community gardens that are growing our food.

    • Word Powered Art (Jo Steffens) 
      Text-based art to be displayed on digital billboards.

    • HSCA Harvest Market (Joe Vipond)
      A celebration of Urban Agriculture... the first of an annual competition celebrating what can be grown within the city limits of Calgary.

    • Free Classic Movie - aka Guerrilla Drive-in (Matt Hamel) 
      Join like-minded Calgarians outside the Simmons Mattress Factory part of the new Riverwalk to watch Casablanca under the stars for free.
  • Honourable Mentions:
    • Worldviews Film Project - Kate MacKenzie 
      create curriculum kit using videography to enable students to explore different worldviews of Calgarians highlighting leaders who are making their communities more awesome!

    • SEGS (Sustainable Enclosed Garden Structures) - Alan Marston
      Create affordable, maintenance-free garden systems that simply requires a small amount
      of water each day until harvest. 
    • artWALKwithART - Art Proctor
      A monthly free thrill ride of cultural discovery in Calgary - First Thursday Culture Crawl

    • Winston Heights – Mountview Playground Party - Alex Reed 
      A kid-centric, family-oriented, neighbour-meeting inner-city community party celebrating the opening of this innovative, world class playground

    • The House Project -Caitlind Brown & co
      Featuring 8 artists with a love for community,
      collaboration and a knack for ripping things apart.
    • Superheroes For Kids - Gord Cohen
      Lifesize cardboard cutouts of your favorite superheroes to take to sick kids hospitals to empower kids to be their own superhero and help them get better
Now you see why this was so difficult??  Incredibly awesome ideas!

Looking forward to seeing you in Inglewood, DaDe ART & DESIGN LAB   |   1327 9 AVE SE to join in the fun with the Top4 finalists pitching for the $1000 CASH!   It's going to be another #awesome event!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Awesomness in Calgary

Speaking as a Trustee today, I have to admit: Sometimes it's tough being a Trustee here at AF Calgary.

With how the Awesome Foundation is set up, at least 10 Trustees (here in Calgary, we have 13) pitch in $100 out of their own pockets each month to provide the monthly $1,000 prize. As such, the way things stand right now, we can only afford to fund one awesome idea each month.

Since there's so much awesomeness in Calgary, we want to highlight as much as we can, which is why we're currently the only AF chapter right now that chooses a Top4 each month from all the monthly submissions, in addition to Honourable Mentions. The intent is that even though only one idea can get the funding, we can at least hope to expose some of the other ideas to the public in case others would like to help them out. So Top4 choices, Honourable Mentions, and the Idea Incubator of the website is our attempt to address some of that.

But even then, sometimes it's heartbreaking, because there's just so many awesome ideas to spotlight, that to spotlight them all would be unfeasible.

That said, just because a person or a group doesn't win the monthly prize, it doesn't have to prevent them from going forward with their awesome idea.

Case in point, in June 2011, we received many great submissions and had four super strong pitches that night. In the end, it was really close (Trustee deliberations went through four rounds, which never happened before), but ultimately, the Calgary Circus Studio won out, and they hope to build and debut their public circus apparatus in the coming months.

However, that hasn't stopped some of the other finalists from going forward with their plans anyways.

Last week, Nicky Dundas, one of our Top4 for June 2011, who gave a passionate and heartfelt pitch that really gave the Trustees for the night a lot to debate and discuss, rolled out one of the many ideas she had for spreading happiness in the city of Calgary (she calls it "Happy Sprinkles"), with 100 Roses, which was sprinkle #24. If you missed out, check out this video:

Another one of the finalists in June, the People's Poetry Festival, who had an innovative, anti-PowerPoint presentation which involved haikus, chart paper and awesome drawings, are going forward with their festival right now. It's happening all weekend long throughout and all over Kensington, so if you have a chance, drop by and take part in one of the many events and activities.

Speaking personally, sometimes this job is hard for me to take because we can only fund one idea a month and many times, I'd love it if we could fund more than one, but whenever a person or a group goes forward with their ideas anyways, it makes me feel inspired and proud to be a born-and-raised Calgarian.

So thanks to Nicky and her group, the organizing committee at the People's Poetry Festival, and to everyone who has ever, or is thinking of, submitting an idea for consideration here to AF Calgary. It's always exciting and inspiring to see what fellow Calgarians come up with, and makes me want to do better myself!

Hope to see you out at some of these events,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes: Installation #2 - Play!

On Wednesday, August 17, 2011, AF Calgary July 2011 fellows Claudia Bustos and Vlad Amiot presented their second installation based on their project proposal "Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes."

Entitled "Play!" Calgarians of all ages were encouraged to bring their inner child and to come down to Prince's Island Park from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. to create and to play with balloons with LEDs embedded in them.

Likened to a glow-in-the-dark ball pit, participants tossed, kicked and buried themselves in balloons, and fun was had by all.

Approximately 50 people came out in the middle of the week to play along (many despite having to work the next morning), and this video is a short montage of what happened that night:

To learn more about the Illuminated Landscapes project, check out

And if you've missed out on the previous two installations, there may be one more opportunity to take part in this AF Calgary funded project before the summer is up. Stay tuned!

Finally, don't forget that May 2011's AF Calgary winning project "MP3 Experiment" takes place this Sunday, August 21 at Sien Lok Park at 2 p.m. If you want to take part, check out Audio Mob YYC.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Come "Play!" at Illuminated Landscape's Second Installation!

Claudia Bustos and Vlad Amiot, AF Calgary's July 2011 winners, kicked off their "Illuminated Landscapes" project last Friday as part of the Choose Yer Own festival.

It was a HUGE success, with approximately 150 people attending throughout the night to create LED fireflies and help illuminate the shoreline of the beautiful Elbow Island Park. There was a soldering station set up to create some of the more complicated LED installations, and for many people who participated, it was their first time soldering anything ever (and for many, definitely the first time soldering something under a bridge)!

Here's a taste of what happened that night:

If you missed out, don't worry! Claudia and Vlad will be debuting the second installation of their project entitled "Play!" tonight where you can come out and not only help illuminate some more of Calgary's beautiful landscapes, but also feel free to play around with some of their cool equipment.

Tonight's event will take place from 10 p.m. to midnight (or until supplies run out) at Prince's Island Park in the "darkest spot near the playground" and don't forget to bring your inner child along with you!

Everyone's invited, and if you'd like to RSVP, check out their Facebook Event Page.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 12, 2011

July's winning proposal "Illuminated Landscapes" goes live tonight!

If you haven't heard yet, the first of the four $1,000 micro-grants we've awarded to Awesome Projects thus far goes live tonight as part of the Choose Yer Own festival, a collaborative festival where you can "choose yer own" level of involvement!

The winning project, Calgary's Illuminated Landscapes, aims to invite Calgarians to illuminate overlooked city spaces using LED lights to create new and inviting landscapes. They've gotten great support from local Calgarian groups and companies like Protospace and Solarbotics, and what they've managed to come up with should be inspiring.

If you'd like to take part, meet up at the intersection of 4th St. and 26th Ave S.W. any time after 10 p.m., grab some LEDs and help decorate!

Claudia and Vlad did a great job at documenting their project, from proposal to pitch, on their blog. If you're looking for some inspiration for your pitches and proposals, you should see what they wrote:
  • How to Write a Proposal: Claudia and Vlad include the one page project proposal they submitted to us in July.
  • How to Plan a 90 Second Pitch: Claudia and Vlad detail some of the techniques they came up with to distill their project proposal into a 90 second pitch, upon learning that they were invited to present at July's Top4 Pitch 'n Party Night.
  • How to Present an Idea: Claudia and Vlad walk us through the finished presentation they performed at the Top4 Pitch 'n Party Night.
If you'd like to see how they did on video the night of, you can view that here.

If you're looking to submit a proposal of your own, the next deadline for submissions is Saturday, September 10 at 11:59 p.m. for the September prize.

Hope to see you tonight!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

$1000 to help "Illuminate Calgary" - spread the word!

Hi Lori (and everyone at Awesome Calgary)!

We just wanted to update you on our status for our first installation of Illuminated Landscapes.  The Fireflies version will be going up tomorrow:

Come join us for our first installation on Friday, August 12th. Start your adventure at the intersection of 4th St. and 26 Ave. SW anytime after 10 pm! 

Once visitors get to the intersection, they will follow a trail of lights to our location. 
We'll keep you updated for the next installations; also, check out our blog at to track our process and progress through our projects!

Thanks again for Awesome Calgary's help.

Thanks, and hopefully we'll see you tomorrow!

Vlad & Claudia (Awesome Foundation Calgary's July 2011 grant fellow)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

July was awesome, but August is going to be AWESOMER!

It's been a busy summer this year here at Awesome Foundation Calgary!

In July, AF Calgary along with some of the other existing chapters in Canada were featured nationally in a Postmedia News piece talking about how the AF movement is spreading across the country, and we held our fourth Pitch 'n Party night at the Calgary Drop-In Centre with local favorites and special guests The Heebee-Jeebees headlining the entertainment for the night.

If you missed out on the July festivities, here's a taste courtesy of Chris Hsiung from Hidden Story Productions:

August promises to be an even busier month here in Calgary, as two of the projects we've funded thus far are ready to come to fruition!

Here's what we have on tap this month:
  • Wednesday, August 10: Deadline for submissions for the $1,000 August prize. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form! As always, submissions will be taken until 11:59 p.m.
  • Friday, August 12: July AF Calgary Fellows Claudia Bustos and Vlad Amiot will debut their project Illuminating Calgary Landscapes in Calgary. The location is still a secret (for now), but expect more details as the big day approaches!
  • Sunday, August 21: May AF Calgary Fellow Kiran Somanchi will debut his "MP3 Experiment" project, Audio Mob YYC at Sien Lok Park at 2 p.m. If you'd like to be "in the know" and help make this event a success by participating in it, or would like to learn more about the project in general, visit or read our press release.
  • Thursday, August 25: The fifth AF Calgary Pitch 'n Party night! This month, it'll be held at the DaDe Art & Design Lab in the beautiful neighborhood of Inglewood. The fun starts at 6 p.m. and we hope to see you there!
As you can see, lots happening this month here on the home front, and we hope you'll be a part of it!