Archive | July, 2012

July Awesome Short-list and Grant Party!

28 Jul

Our July Awesome was so huge that it didn’t fit in the month of July!  On August 1st, we’re inviting our top 4 Awesome Proposals to pitch their ideas to our trustees and friends at The Gladstone Hotel.  Check out the event brite here and read on to get an idea of our Awesome Applicants:

Complete Street Band – Justin Malecki

As this is the third, hopefully charmed time that I am applying to the Awesome Foundation, you may be tired of hearing about The Complete Street Band, the community street band open to musicians of all ages and musical abilities, dedicated to making Toronto’s public spaces more exciting and inviting places to be.  

So let me rather tell you what we’ve been up to and why I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to even resubmit an application to you for the last couple of months.

1.    Playing for the Bells on Bloor mass ride to Queen’s park for the safer streets rally in June.  The Complete Street Band gathered outside of Honest Ed’s at Bloor and Bathurst and played for the stream of cyclists riding by as well as those on the street, much to everyone’s delight.

2.    “”A street band in search of a street piano””.  On the second Saturday in July, The Complete Street Band marched through Trinity-Bellwoods park, playing contemplative, park-like music, before setting up at the piano that was placed in the park as part of the fantastic “Play me, I’m yours” exhibit.  At least that was the plan except there was no piano to be found when we arrived!  We found out too late that the piano had been moved but that didn’t stop us from playing a set for a very appreciative crowd right there in the park.  

3.    Playing in the courtyard outside of St. Stephen in the Fields church in the north end of Kensington market many Saturday afternoons.  The band rehearses every Saturday at the church but we often find ourselves lured outside to play for the folks on College St.  

The band is currently composed of 8-12 musicians though we continue to actively seek out more.  Recently, I have been focusing on reaching out to younger musicians who may be looking for new opportunities to play.

360 Screenings – Ned Loach

360 Screenings combines the screening of a film with elements of live theatre to create an entirely immersive experience. The venue, which could be a loft, a field, or any unique location, is chosen based on the setting of the film being screened and is completely furnished to reflect the film’s environment. It is part of our mandate to use Toronto heritage buildings as our venues and include vendors from the local surroundings.  Actors enhance the experience by portraying key characters, and, halfway through the event, cue the audience to move into the screening-room by re-enacting a pivotal scene from the film.

Our first screening on May 25th generated a large amount of positive buzz and we are currently in the development stages of our next event scheduled for August 15th. It is in our mandate to always use Toronto heritage buildings as our venues, and to work with the local businesses and community partners near the venue. For a recap video of what our first screening on May 25th looked like, please follow this line:

Toronto Bicycle Music Festival – James Davis

This is the third year I’ve run the Bicycle Music Festival, a pedal-powered, mobile music festival. It’s a free community event involving a series of outdoor concerts and performances on Sept. 15, all powered by bicycles! The P.A. for the event runs off of bike generators pedaled by the audience and all gear and instruments are moved between our park venues on cargo bikes and bike trailers by an awesome team of volunteer roadies. We ride as a group from one venue to the next and even have live performances along the way!

The festival features independent musicians from a variety of genres performing in beautiful park settings to diverse audiences. Families make up a big part of the crowd and you can usually find at least half a dozen kids dancing in front of the stage.

One of the best parts of the event is that it brings together people who you wouldn’t normally find at a music festival. Our accessible and innovative format draws in almost as many passers-by as folks who had planned to attend. What could be more quintessentially Toronto than a taxi driver parking his cab to listen to electro-pop in a park?

The festival has grown each year and we’re determined to make it even bigger and better this year. I recently attended the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival, which is powered by 20 bikes and features a 4′ by 8′ mobile stage, and I’ve returned with the inspiration to take our festival to the next level. There’s a huge buzz in this city about all things bike-related and ever-growing interest in powering events by bike. Our festival has captured many imaginations and is poised to be the catalyst for a bike-powered revolution in Toronto.
Here are some other things we’re dreaming of: Imagine a group of bankers stumbling upon a bike-powered square dance on Bay Street, or politicians leaving Queens’ Park and encountering a pedal-powered burlesque show! Bike-powered events allow access to unconventional venues and hold the promise of shaking things up all over the city!

Happy Together – Heeseung Ko

My documentary project, “Happy Together” is about the a wedding story of North Korean Refugees in Toronto. There are about three hundreds of NK refugees and more than seven of NK people waiting to receive regal status in Canada. Most of the refugees left their love ones and escape alone. The family that they are having now is created after they escaped from NK. Because of that reason, most of them never had chance to have wedding ceremonies. They have been through rough and unbelievable times. Against all the bad memories, they are trying to embrace happiness. In September, the association of NK people are holding the group wedding ceremony for teen couples. I am also the part of the group wedding ceremony committee and also making a documentary about the wedding. This wedding is not only for the teen couple but also for the citizens of Toronto to embrace the freedom and love.

1. A documentary video
2. Wedding photos and videos for the wedding couples

PS; I am working with two North Korean refugees as film crews; one is a assistant director and the other is a camera operator.

Come Join us at the Gladstone Hotel, 7pm on August 1st.  Make sure to RSVP using the link below and bring your Awesome!


Awesome Toronto at Harbourfront

19 Jul

The Toronto Awesome Foundation had lots of fun at Habourfront Center for Canada Day!

We’ll be at the Gladstone on Wednesday Aug 1st, 7-8pm, if you want to come watch our next pitch night. Mark your calendars!

June Winner: Stop Gap

19 Jul

Q&A with the winner, Luke Anderson:

1) Congratulations! What’s your project all about?

We are so incredibly thankful for The Awesome Foundation’s support, we are super excited to start embarking on the design of our new website that will be funded with the grant money. In our eyes the website is the portal for big things to come, it will give The Ramp Project wings and help the project extend its reach across the country and beyond. Right now we have a blog which has been working well for us but we have outgrown the venue, the website will provide clarity on what we have to offer. The StopGap website will explain how our school programs operate, it will make all of the required ramp building resources available such that communities can take on their own ramp projects, it will explain our ability to provide inclusive design consulting and of course it will provide a venue for us to share our successes in the form of photos and customer feedback.

The Ramp Project is an ongoing project that was conceived last fall. With help from community hardware stores and help from volunteers businesses with single stepped storefronts are invited to participate and have a custom ramp made at no cost. The brightly coloured ramps do not present a perfect solution to the problem however they create curiosity and get people talking about this huge design issue. The project has introduced many to the human right to equal access and has broadened the conversation on this topic.

The ramp project has been successful at highlighting how a simple ramp can make life easier for everyone. Participants have shared that a ramped storefront is more inviting. Parents pushing strollers, couriers using dollies to handle heavy packages and people using mobility aides all benefit from a barrier free storefront. The project has also proved that business owners are able to increase their customer base by providing a storefront that everyone can enter and exit. Supporters of the initiative hope that through these types of projects communities will create legislation of their own instead of waiting until the projected due date outlined in the AODA – that being 2025.

2) In your most optimistic dreams, how many ramps do you think your project can inspire into being in the next year?

The sky’s the limit really when it comes to our prediction of how many ramps we will build in the next year but if we were to throw out a hopeful guess – hmmmm… I think 500 is manageable! We already have close to 60 under our belt, we have worked out the kinks and are very close to finishing up the resource materials that will be available on the website. Oh! We were also thinking about including a ramp counter on the website as well, and a list of all the businesses that are participating in the project. We think this will be a fun component! We embarked on this initiative with the intention of it being fun and we intend to keep it that way.

3) How can we get involved and/or follow your progress?

We are always looking for volunteers to help us with Ramp Projects. We have a really big project underway in the Roncesvalles neighborhood whereby we are looking for participation from all of the business owners with a single stepped storefront. These storefronts will be outfitted with a free temporary access ramp. We have touched base with only about 35 businesses to date and we believe there to be close to 125 potential participants. Pollock’s hardware store has been super generous in donating all of the materials required to build the ramps but we are going to need some serious help with building and painting them! [Editor: the stopgap blog has their email address and other details if you want to contact them and get involved]

The June Shortlist

11 Jul

A little late, I know, and it’s totally my fault, but here’s the shortlist, the winners’ post and video will be up in a day or so as well. Hope you all saw us at Harbourfront for Canada Day!

Nomadesk: The Nomadesk Writer’s Residency is an inclusive publishing experiment that uses a nomadic desk/typewriter apparatus to bring the private act of writing into public space. This project has existed in past incarnations, but what I propose to the Awesome Foundation is: A Cycle-Driven, Toronto- Specific, Writer’s Residency Open to the Public!

Stop|Gap: an initiative with a goal to raise awareness about barriers in our built environment. Our first project that we have embarked upon is called The Ramp Project. With help from Home Depot businesses with single stepped storefronts are invited to participate and have a custom ramp made at no cost. We want groups to be able to take on their own Ramp Projects in their respective communities and our plan is to have an ultra transparent do-it-yourself Ramp Project guide on our website.

Humber Bridge Sculpture: We are creating two large creatures 5’x18′ that look like blown glass but are made of translucent painted fibreglass. The creatures will appear to be swimming within the Humber Pedestrian Bridge 20′ above pedestrians. At night they will have a bio-luminescent glow. It will be the first ever art project official sanctioned for mounting on the Humber Pedestrian Bridge.

Landed: A series of three 25 minute comedic pod plays showcasing Toronto Filipino immigrant stories over three Toronto neighbourhoods, Downtown, North York and Scarborough. The pod plays will include and address the physical surroundings of the specific neighbourhood, neighbours and the changing landscape. Like summer walking tours, audiences will experience a very specific Toronto Story, in more accessible way than a formal sit-in theatre