Building a better future

Following up on April’s One-Year Anniversary event was going to be a tough job, but thankfully, the diversity of submissions we received for May 2012 ensured another wide variety of pitches would be on display as we kick off Year Two here at Awesome Foundation – Calgary.

This month, we returned to Commonwealth Bar & Stage for the 13th instalment of Awesome Calgary’s Thousand Dollar Thursday, where four ideas would vie for the no-strings-attached $1,000 micro-grant.

The emcee for the night was our very own Trustee of Awesome Chris Salmon, and it was with this backdrop that the four AF-Calgary finalists for this month took to the stage for 90 seconds each to wow the Trustees and convince them and the audience why they felt they were worthy of winning the $1,000 prize.

Pitch 1:  Sharing Souls

First up was Daniel Rodriguez with Sharing Souls, a collaborative project heavily inspired by the “Before I Die” wall by Candy Chang, which has already been executed in many cities around North America.

After arriving in Calgary two years ago and observing the city, Daniel felt that Calgary was a city that never wakes up.  That said, he felt that Calgary and Calgarians had big dreams and big potential, and he wanted to know exactly what it was that Calgarians were dreaming about.  So Daniel wishes to bring the “Before I Die” project here to Calgary to help realize that.

Plywood sheets painted with chalkboard paint would be placed on the City Hall, 1st Street SW and Centre Street C-Train platforms for two weeks where Calgarians would be able to share their thoughts and dreams by writing them down for all to see.  After that, those boards would be placed in a permanent installation somewhere where it could stand as a monument to the dreams of the people and could help motivate people to start executing them now that they’ve managed to define them.

Ideal project launch would be towards the end of June, and the majority of the $1,000 would go towards the purchase of materials to execute the project, mainly plywood, chalkboard paint, and various writing implements.

Pitch 2:  Tool Library

Second was Courtney Hare and Kristen Holm with Tool Library, where they wished to use the $1,000 micro-grant to launch Calgary’s very first tool lending library.

The Tool Library would give all Calgarians access to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and gardening tools that they can use on various projects.  Rather than renting or buying tools that you may only use for eight minutes or pestering friends and family for tools to borrow, you can simply borrow them for free from the Tool Library instead.

They felt that Calgarians as well as various organizations and programs in the community would benefit from having a Tool Library in the city in three ways:

  1. Economically:  By reducing the costs associated with renting or purchasing tools.
  2. Socially:  By creating opportunities for people to build things together.
  3. Environmentally:  By reducing waste consumption and environmental footprint.

The $1,000 would go solely towards the purchase of tools to kickstart the collection.  New tools, refurbished tools and donations would go towards the collection and to start, three main kits would be created.

Courtney and Kristen will house the tool library at the Central branch of the Calgary Public Library downtown and they hope to have the project launched within the next six months.  The long-term vision would be that the collection could be expanded and housed in a trailer that could move from branch to branch.

Pitch 3:  Project Grandma

Up third was Ava Jane Markus, a local theatre writer and actor, with Project Grandma.

Ava, along with two other artists, will write a 45 minute play in conjunction with the residents of Canyon Meadows Retirement Home.  Interviews with residents would be performed, poetry written and other stories would be told.

The play will happen on June 1 and the $1,000 would go towards audio equipment to perform the play, as well as to help pay for craft materials, performer’s fees and promotional materials.  Ideally, this would serve as a pilot project and could be used as a template for other productions and collaborations with other nursing and retirement homes in the future.

Pitch 4:  Puppet Gratitude Journal 

Last was Michelle Warkentin with Puppet Gratitude Journal.

The Puppet Gratitude Journal is a new play written by Michelle launched last month.  The play would use puppets to teach children between Kindergarten and Grade Six about what gratitude is and the wonderful virtues that people have inside, mainly kindness, compassion and empathy because in Michelle’s experience, the earlier children can get that message, it makes them better people later on in life.

The $1,000 would allow four schools by the end of June or September with 100 children at each school to be able to view the play for free.

And the winner is…


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AF-Calgary’s May 2012 no-strings-attached $1,000 micro-grant went to Courtney Hare and Kristin Holm and their Tool Library.

Courtney and Kristin hope to have the project implemented within the next six months, so keep an eye out for that!

BIG Thanks to our venue sponsor Commonwealth Bar & Stage for hosting us again this month.

As always, putting on a Thousand Dollar Thursday every month is always a challenge, and it can’t be done without the help and support of our Awesome Support/Production Team. So a BIG Thank You to the following people for volunteering some of their time to help us out this month with running the event:

Photography Duties:

Production Duties:

Livestream Production:

Live-Tweet Team:

We’re still accepting submissions for our June 2012 prize.  The deadline for submissions is Sunday, June 10 at 11:59 p.m. and if you’d like to submit an idea or project for consideration, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy evening to come down and watch.

Finally, if you missed out on the event, check out our “live-to-tape” version of it on our YouTube channel here (apologies in advance for some of the tech issues within the video):

And check out some photos from the event on Flickr.

Hope to see you out next month!