Archive | January, 2013

January winner: Teen Legal Helpline!

31 Jan

Congratulations to Teen Legal Helpline, who won $1,000 in a paper bag to help make Toronto more awesome for teens in trouble! Here are the notes from tonight’s pitch night. Click on the images for larger versions.

20130131 Awesome Foundation Toronto page 1

20130131 Awesome Foundation Toronto page 2

Feel free to share these images and link back to Awesome Foundation Toronto. =)

Submit your awesome idea for a chance at $1,000 in a paper bag – deadline March 15!

Next pitch night: January 31, 2013 7 PM

25 Jan

Find out which of the Awesome Foundation Toronto submitters will win $1,000 to make Toronto more awesome!

Sign up at . See you there!

Five groups will be pitching us on the 31st:

Train of Thought

Well you see what we do is, we take a bunch of people who voluntarily come with us onto the subway trains and break down social barriers and spread positive messages of love & unity. A wide range of people come out, but the two main groups of people are performing artists and non performing artists. As you can see, everyone is still considered an artist, unity, right?

Now, for those riding with us as performing artists, if they have a “piece” (poetry/singing/rap/etc…) or instrument, or dance, prepared to share, they are encouraged to be a part of the flash portion of the project. This is where the artist surprises the riders with their piece as an act of spontaneous expression.

For the non performing artists, they are also encouraged to take part in the social barrier breaking aspect of the project, to their own discretion. To help break the ice between the riders and artists, we provide the artists with post it notes & hand written signs asking riders “for a simple favour?” & then as you flip the card, on the back all you ask is for a smile: =).

Another social barrier ice breaker we get non performing artists to take part in is our “Thought Board”. Riders are asked to sign our “thought board” with what ever thought they may have in mind at the moment positive//negative. A great way for riders to write other riders positive words of encouragement, or a great way for them to vent out what may be troubling their mind.

All of these random expressions of love, and acts of art are geared to connecting humans during what normally would be an autonomous part of their day in a creative, spontaneous, and harmonious way. Only art can turn an idea so crazy into something understandable, because it gives someone standing from a distance or a stranger something they can resonate with deeply.

Super furniture at Rear View Artspace

Rear View Art-space, founded by Jennifer Davis and Su-Ying Lee, is an atypical site for art aimed at wanderers, the curious, the adventurous, and the lost. Located in an unassuming Toronto laneway (behind Lee’s home), in a residential neighbourhood, the architecture of this “gallery” is comprised of fences, garages and pavement. In this quirky urban space, artists are challenged to think outside the white-walled gallery and, instead, create projects that will be encountered by “patrons” passing in the street. These projects, found in our own backyard, help us imagine new and crazy ways of inhabiting our everyday environment. Rear View Art-space is a mini-creative-laboratory where propositions are put forth about how our city can be re-shaped with new vision.

Communication networks, happenstance or serendipity draw visitors to Rear View Art-space for unexpected encounters, a detour from the everyday and food for thought. Built on the ethos of DIY and “if you build it, they will come”, Davis and Lee create opportunity from their abundance of creative vision in an economy of limited physical and financial resources. Rear View Art-space will be a continuing project that presents one exhibition per season.

Super Furniture is the inaugural exhibition of Rear View Art-space, confirmed to launch the summer of 2013. This cartoonish and whimsical installation by architect and graphic novelist, Jimenez Lai, is conceived of as “a building that is too small and furniture that is too big.” The project, designed especially for the laneway site, offers visitors the opportunity to inhabit windows of a life-sized comic book page. The project revives the eternal fascination of chidhood fort building, club founding and playing out of sight of ‘grown ups’. Super Furniture is a novel proposition for how we might live and socialize in the unique, but often overlooked, spaces of Toronto.

Teen Legal Helpline

Access to justice in Canada is in a state of crisis. The Chief Justice has spoken publicly about the inability of most Canadians to afford counsel. The Canadian Bar Association finds high proportions of people navigate legal proceedings on their own because of the failure of legal aid. Yet, in 2010 more than 150,000 youth dealt with the criminal legal system — many alone, as teens and social workers rarely receive reliable advice. Without change, these teens will be lost in the legal system.

We help teens by offering free and confidential legal advice through our website According to experts, the largest unmet access to justice need is diagnosing and explaining legal situations, and that is what Teen Legal Helpline does.

Teen Legal Helpline is the first service of its kind to use technology to improve access to justice. Attempts to alleviate the problem in Canada have so far depended on legal clinics that provide free or low cost legal services only to indigent clients. These almost always have physical locations, depend on public funding (which is on the verge of collapse), and cannot scale. Instead of relying on the service models of physical clinics, we leverage a network of volunteer lawyers across the country to provide teens with specific answers to their legal questions. We can do this because our platform is designed to solve the largest barrier to lawyer volunteerism: the inability to predict availability or capacity. Our service lets lawyers answer discrete questions at their convenience and directly from their inbox, without disrupting how they currently work. Our technology is built to handle very large volumes of questions, so we can scale to match the size of the problem we are tackling.

Love takes the worry out of being close

My project is part of this year’s HATCH residency at Harbourfront. It is a queer and Trans re-imagining of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s infamous Bed-ins which protested the Vietnam War. Like their actions, it will be part love-fest, part political act.

In “love takes the worry out of being close” I am putting queer and trans lover/activist teams in a big bed – a different team each day of the residency week. These teams will invite audiences into their bed to talk about different political issues. From Gay Marriage to Idle No More, they will discuss, facilitate and encourage a public, warm and fuzzy conversation that is centred around non-violence and collective mobilization. There will be 4 teams of 2 -3 people each.

We will be doing 8 workshops in February and March to prepare for this experience. Though they will all have experience as facilitators in political context, many won’t be seasoned performance artists. The workshops will be opportunities to flush out how to talk about their chosen issues in an art context, and offer a number of tools for non-violent facilitation when it comes to conversation.

The performances will run from April 8 – 13, 2013 at Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre. Audiences will encounter the lover/activists in white pajamas and surrounded by beautiful white flowers, just like John and Yoko. They will invite you and you and you into their comfy room, which will feel like a hotel room. Together, you will explore the issues they are passionate about with laughter, conversation, education and love. On the final day, we will show documentation from the week, and get feedback from the audience on their thoughts and experiences of the work.

We will take the whole thing to Montreal, where we’ll do it in the REAL hotel rooms that John and Yoko used at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (1738, 1740, 1742 and 1744) back in late May and early June, 1969. For that part of the project, I am applying to the Canada Council’s Inter-Arts Office.

The Davisville Community Outdoor Learning Garden

The Eco Comittee has five main goals: 1. To foster leadership and teamwork; 2. To reduce our impact on the environment; 3. To care for and create vibrant school grounds; 4. To improve student achievement through ecological literacy; and, 5. To contribute to healthy, safe and caring communities.

To further achieve these goals, the Davisville Eco-Committee is creating the Davisville Community Outdoor Learning Garden. The Garden will be a vibrant education and recreation space for students, educators and community members to engage in hands-on learning activities, to socialize and to play. Working with students and the greater community our plan includes the installation for extra seating, a free community library, environmentally sensitive play areas, and a small scale greenhouse.

The learning and social hub will include natural rock seating, an outdoor chalkboard and ecological learning stations placed throughout the garden. The play areas will enhance creative play, promoting awareness and sensitivity about our local environment. To promote literacy and the love of reading we will install two free community book boxes. These free libraries will be a place where both children and adults can come to exchange books and, therefore, create a cycle of people returning the garden again and again. The greenhouse will be a year round living laboratory for our community to learn, explore and grow. The greenhouse will be a space to conduct experiments, learn about natural life cycles and even grow food for the school snack program!

The Davisville community is a high density urban area and many residents have limited access to natural green space to relax, play and explore. As we become increasingly urbanised, we becoming increasingly alienated from our natural environment. The Garden provides this natural space while fostering an increased sense of belonging, engagement and stewardship.

Sign up at . See you there!

Missed the deadline for this round? No worries, you can still submit your awesome idea for the February grant. Next deadline: February 15.

Last few days before the January 15 deadline!

11 Jan

Do you want to possibly win $1,000 in a paper bag for a project that will make Toronto even more awesome? Don’t forget to submit your idea by January 15, 2013 so that you’ll make it into this month’s round of funding.

Need more time? We’d love to hear from you next month!