Making the community a little more Awesome

By Julie Houle Cezer

You want to make a difference in your community. You have a great idea that is motivating you to seek out like-minded volunteers who have the skills and time to pull off your plans. But you lack the $1,000 to cover the hard costs to launch the awesome event or the seed money for a new enterprise that might just turn out to be a game-changer. You don’t need millions of dollars to accomplish your goals, just a small cash injection to take the next step. If that’s the case, your very next stop should be Awesome Foundation Ottawa with its website tagline: “ $1000. no strings. srsly.”

Like its progenitor in Boston, Massachusetts, Awesome Foundation Ottawa is one of 59 autonomous chapters that have sprung up in 12 countries around the world since 2009. Comprising 10 or more individual trustees who each contribute $100, each chapter meets monthly to grant $1,000 to creators for projects ranging from art mobs and street dances to scientific experiments – no strings attached, no reports. Thus far, they have funded 335 projects. The local Ottawa chapter has been in the business of funding Awesome fellows since May 2010 and to date, these 13 trustees have given away $26,000 to “bright ideas” that “challenge and expand our understanding of individual and communal potentials and “inspire long-term hope for a more awesome future.” You may have even witnessed or participated in programs or events that have seen the light of day thanks to Awesome Foundation Ottawa.

So what kind of projects has Awesome Foundation Ottawa been funding?
Back in the summer, you might have caught wind of a lunchtime dance party on Sparks Street designed to get the nine-to-five crowd out of their swivel chairs and swiveling their own hips, or you might have spotted a Hintonburg bus bundled up in a mega-granny-square afghan at Suzy Q Doughnuts during Nuit Blanche in September. More recently, the October 2012 award went to an awesome fellow making laser music, while in September, the $1,000, which can be delivered as cash, cheque or gold doubloons, went to sustain the do-it-yourself spirit of the second annual Mini-Maker Faire that cross-pollinates arts, crafts, engineering and science with food, music and sustainability initiatives. Back in August, the honour went to Citizens Academy, a program being designed by citizens, for citizens to learn the skills needed to collaborate more effectively within the municipal landscape of the future. One of the founders, Judith Maxwell, has written an article in this month’s Glebe Report (p.15) laying out the goals and the anticipated process that will shape the project.

An awesome challenge for residents of the Glebe
What kind of events or small projects can you organize that might inspire others in your school or neighbourhood? How might you extend or expand current or historical knowledge about the community or improve dialogue among the diverse voices in the Glebe? What would make this a healthier community, a more connected community, a more welcoming community? What would
make this a more joyful and creative place to call home? And what can you and your friends do about it? How awesome would it be to create a locative mobile app to make knowledge about Glebe history, including heritage homes, available to local residents (including children) and visitors as they take walking tours of the area? How awesome would it be to make apps of fictional and non-fiction stories, penned by local authors that could then be activated at particular locations in the Glebe?

On the other hand, how awesome would it be to have a Glebe-wide party in June to celebrate all the people of the Glebe who have ever volunteered over the last 40 years during which time GNAG and the Glebe Report have been serving the Glebe community (June 2013 is Glebe Report’s 40th anniversary)? And to get a photo of all of them together! And yes, we would invite our friends in the GCA – the members of that organization have been creating the conditions for well-being in the community week-by-week since 1967.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to celebrate all of them – who are, in fact, all of us – and to throw a party for the community? Now, how awesome would that be?

Send us your ideas for blue-sky projects of any kind that will benefit others as well as yourselves. When we have gathered a basketful, we will share those through the Glebe Report and help you explore who your like-minded partners in the community might be. Get in touch – keep in touch.

Learn more about the Awesome Foundation Ottawa and Awesome projects at www.awesomeottawa.ca.

With files from Rosemary Knes

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