The Awesome Foundation

The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time.

Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1,000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter’s “trustees” and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.

Awesome Foundation – Calgary

From 2011-2015, I was involved in the Calgary chapter of The Awesome Foundation.

Local Calgary artists Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett won Awesome Calgary’s Aug 2012 micro-grant for their CLOUD installation.

Our chapter awarded our $1,000 micro-grants via monthly Pitch Events where four groups would be invited to pitch their ideas to our trustees and we would vote amongst ourselves to decide who would walk away with the prize.

We decided on the pitch format for our chapter because we felt that spotlighting the various ideas would bring more exposure to those that made the short list and could help connect the other ideas to resources in the community that could help them execute their idea even if they didn’t win our grant.

The livestream archive of our one-year anniversary “Thousand Dollar Thursday” pitch event. Our special guest was Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

During our tenure, our chapter awarded $30,000 in grant money to enable awesomeness in our city.

Dean of Awesome

From 2013 to 2015, I was the Dean of Awesome Calgary, responsible for running our chapter. Duties included volunteer coordination, marketing and communications, various event coordination and the production of the monthly pitch events.

Emceeing the June 2012 edition of Thousand Dollar Thursday.

Media Relations, Communications, New Media Production

Part of those duties included Media Relations and Coordination. I became responsible for connecting media to project grantees or candidates whenever interview requests came in. I also acted as a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the chapter when needed.

Here is a select list of some of the interviews I gave on behalf of Awesome Calgary:

I was also responsible for the Marketing and Communications work. That involved developing the Social Media Plan/Strategy as well as New Media content production too. A variety of the videos that I produced are available on the Awesome Calgary YouTube channel, and the photographs I took can be found on the organisation’s Flickr page. The majority of the social media work can be found on Twitter.

Finally, Event Coordination was a major role of mine as well, particularly when it came to promoting the organisation.

Awesome Day in Canada

A video montage of previously funded Awesome Calgary projects in celebration of Awesome Day in Canada 2013

I am quite proud that I helped co-organise the very first Awesome Day in Canada event in 2013, where many of the Canadian chapters of The Awesome Foundation collaborated to host special events all on the same day.

Calgary’s contribution to Awesome Day in Canada ended up changing due to the 2013 flood. Initially, we were going to do a round of giveaways downtown followed by our Pitch Night event held in partnership with the Calgary Public Library later in the day.

Our "Relaxation Station" for those impacted by the 2013 flood in Calgary. All of our amenities were donated by individuals or partner organisations.

Instead, we partnered with the Cliff Bungalow-Mission Community Association and held a Relaxation Station offering amenities such as cell phone charging stations and free massages for flood volunteers and those affected by the flooding. The Calgary Food Bank even helped us out by providing some snack bars and bottled water to give away.

Some photos from the event can be found here.

Altogether, Sarnia invited citizens of their city to blanket the town with messages of awesomeness, Halifax and Kingston held their pitch events on that day, and Vancouver hosted a giant community picnic. Even Seattle decided to get involved by hosting a special event in their city on the same day too.

Awesome Day in Canada 2013 was the first attempt at a globally coordinated event between multiple AF chapters, and I was proud at how many cities decided to participate, especially since the whole thing came together on short notice.

Special (and Unique!) Event Coordination

Finally, in 2014 in honour of our chapter’s third anniversary, I organised a promotional campaign consisting of various events inspired by grants given by other chapters of The Awesome Foundation from around the world. The itinerary was such:

  • Fri, Feb 14: Random Acts of Awesome #01: Valentine’s Day Balloon Scavenger Hunt (or ‘Rescue Mission’ if it gets too cold) in partnership with Downtown Calgary (inspired by projects funded by AF-San Francisco and AF-Chicago)
  • Sun, Mar 9: Awesome Calgary Presents – A ‘Strings-Attached’ themed Awesome Hours at Speed Gaming 2.0 (inspired by a project funded by AF-Ottawa)
  • Sun, Mar 30: Awesome Calgary Presents – A ‘Meat-Filled’ Zebra Piñata Party in partnership with by a project funded by AF-Boston)
  • Sun, Apr 20: Awesome Calgary Presents – Cardboard Fort Day! in partnership with Calgary Mini Maker Faire (inspired by a project funded by AF-Toronto)
  • Thurs, Apr 24: Awesome Calgary’s Third Anniversary Thousand Dollar Thursday Pitch Night Event

Inspired by the Valentine’s Day Balloon Scavenger Hunt! project funded by AF-San Francisco, as well as the Poetry+QR Codes project funded by AF-Chicago, we decided to “Balloon Bomb” downtown Calgary on Valentine’s Day, randomly placing a bunch of helium-filled pink balloons weighed down with chocolate treats for office workers to enjoy during their lunch break.

Our take on the Speed-Gaming! project granted by Awesome Ottawa back in January 2013 was a “Strings Attached” themed Awesome Hours event where members of the public could get together and meet one another over a bunch of facilitated board games while we answered any questions they had about The Awesome Foundation and its granting program.

Our Cardboard Fort Day! in partnership with Calgary Mini Maker Faire event was inspired by the Cardboard Fort Night project that Sherwin Tjia in Toronto, ON pitched to Awesome Foundation Toronto in April 2011. He was awarded a $1,000 micro-grant by The Awesome Foundation to help fund an event where adults could gather and make cardboard forts together in his city. Some photos from the event can be found here.

The original Meat-Filled Zebra Piñatas project funded by Awesome Foundation – Boston in January 2013 was the talk of the Global AF sphere for a solid three months as it had been a while since such a zany project had been funded.

Our take involved throwing a Piñata Party of our own for humans, rather than lions. Local company Big Chief Meat Snacks graciously supplied the meat treats for our guests while Heather and Darryl from constructed and donated the zebra. Some photos from the event can be found here.

My work with The Awesome Foundation has been some of the most fulfilling work that I have ever done. Not only was I able to help enable other people to perform acts of awesomeness in my home town, but by reading through their pitches and seeing projects get realised, it inspired me to do better myself. I met a lot of cool people within my city and internationally, and I’ll always be grateful for the time I had spent here.


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