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The Dean is Dead. Long Live the Dean!

4 Mar

We’re thrilled to announce that Eric Boyd will be taking over the reins as the new Dean of the Toronto Awesome Foundation. I (Geoffrey) had always hoped to be first of many Toronto Deans and am excited to see what new ideas and innovations Eric helps us achieve over the coming year.

The February Short List

23 Feb

Toronto, it’s been a tough month. Even though there’s been no snow, our vision seems to be clouded. We had many worthy projects, but nothing that popped. So we’re not giving out a grant this month. What does this mean? It means that you need to double down and submit your best ideas. And it means that we’re going to give out more money later in the year.

But we’re here to help! Check out this post highlighting our 9 Principles of Awesome. And message any of our Trustees. We’re eager to give you advice on what makes for a great application.


JourneyAmerica: To share and highlight the stories of extraordinary individuals making a positive impact in communities across the Americas by riding two horses from Canada to Brazil.

Let’s Pick Fruit With Our Computers: Roughly 1.5 million pounds of fruit grows from Toronto’s trees every year. 11% of our total urban canopy makes stuff we can eat. We’re living with an abundance and we barely know what to do with it all – or that it exists in the first place.  Looking for your local fruit tree?  Not Far From The Tree wants to build a web site to make it easy to find.

Scientific Poster Meets Street Art: Art meets science meets graffiti through alleyway poster installations detailing the research of our city’s leading graduate students.

Solar Fire Haiti: No, it’s not an evil mission to burn Haiti or some freaky solar eclipse. Solar Fire Haiti is the invention of a man with a mission… an open-source design for a thermal energy stove that can be used for cooking in a range of developing countries, without the need for electricity of firewood. Awesome for moresome.

Walkable Planets Toronto: Ever felt like you’re on another planet? Ever had moments where you’re lost in space? Well, the Walkable Planets community art project now gives you official permission to go and explore your inner galaxy through durable works of art in public parks around Toronto. The project will include the creation of ten art installations in public park spaces throughout the city at a scale of one to five billion. The project will be centered in Christie Pits Park with a sculpture representing “the Sun”, whilst the remaining planet installations will be placed at other parks like Trinity Bellwoods, Dufferin Grove and High Park.

ZED.TO: ZED.TO is an immersive online and live theatre experience that asks Torontonians to participate in a story about the end of the world, brought about by a fictional biotech company called ByoLogyc.  The experience will unfold over an 8 month period, linking major arts festivals across the city such as Fringe and Nuit Blanche.

The January Short List

30 Jan

Bellwood’s Push Mower Society: Now Salt n Pepa may not have thought pushing it was for everybody, but that is NOT the case for Bellwood’s Push Mower Society who aim to challenge all those fly mowers to get on out there and… hmmm…. push.  Mechanical lawn mowers are coming back baby and this initiative aims to get a bunch of us out there keeping Toronto’s fringes impeccably groomed… the natural(ish) way. NOT ONLY is this a green initiative, NOT ONLY is it a community initiative, but you get to strut your stuff up and down the grassy catwalks of Toronto, head high, chest out and wiggling your bottom like a sexy mower-cutter.

Cyclopede – The Walking Bicycle: They say you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, but nobody said anything about reinventing two wheels, aka… the bicycle. Three engineers from UoT and Site3 (yay that rhymes) have got together to reassemble the humble push bike as… erm…. as…erm….a giant pair of legs. Or something. Actually, they mentioned a horse. A bike that moves forward like a horse. Yes. We like the idea, especially if they could evolve the bike to move like a cheetah, fly like a winged unicorn and roar like a lion at rude drivers. We’re watching your space chaps.

Occupy NL: Ain’t no stopping them Newfies, so much so that they are back on our shortlist for January. Here’s the recap from last month….

“Occupy NL is the last Occupy camp in Canada, which we thought was pretty hardcore given they must be freezing their nuts off up there. Their mayor has said he won’t shut them down because he sees no need to, therefore these outdoor Awesomists are sticking it out through the winter. Brrrrrggghhh! The $1000 will be used for workshops, rallies, speakers, and supplies to get through this harsh season. Immediate plans include starting a community kitchen and pushing for electoral reform, first in this province and then in our entire country.” We love ya crazy Newfies.

Parkdale Pirate Radio: Ahoy there and shiver your timbers, for here we have a Parkdate pirate keen to unite the creative castaways of Parkdale through the power of radio. We don’t know if they have parrots and we don’t know if they’ll make us walk the plank, but PPR (say it with a gggrrrrrr and a wink of the eye) plans to make sure residents of Parkdale can have an underground signal to showcase local overground culture. Plenty of treasure here me hearties!

Solar Fire Haiti: No, it’s not an evil mission to burn Haiti or some freaky solar eclipse. Solar Fire Haiti is the invention of a man with a mission… an open-source design for a thermal energy stove that can be used for cooking in a range of developing countries, without the need for electricity of firewood. Awesome for moresome.

Walkable Planets Toronto: Ever felt like you’re on another planet? Ever had moments where you’re lost in space? Well, the Walkable Planets community art project now gives you official permission to go and explore your inner galaxy through durable works of art in public parks around Toronto. The project will include the creation of ten art installations in public park spaces throughout the city at a scale of one to five billion. The project will be centred in Christie Pits Park with a sculpture representing “the Sun”, whilst the remaining planet installations will be placed at other parks like Trinity Bellwoods, Dufferin Grove and High Park.

The December Short List

30 Dec

Eleven and One – Dinner salons: 11 people sit down for dinner once a month. One host, same location (nice, wallet-friendly restaurant) and 10 new strangers each month. Potential for awesomeness, maybe even love, stranger things have happened when strangers have met.

Gingerbread Toronto: The world needs more gingerbread and it starts with Toronto! Venture to break the world record with the largest gingerbread house EVER built. Ever, ever, ever. Locally-sourced crowds will build this epic cookie cottage in a community party of gingerbread love. No witches please.

Flamin’ Rainbows: Awesome by name, awesome by nature. Flamin’ Rainbows is the brain-child of a Toronto rad scientist who is developing the art of coloured flame installations.The goal is to design a system that will shoot six-colour rainbows in bursts of flame, possibly from the mouth of a unicornoceros.

The Dreamcatchers: Propose a website to catch the dreams, aspirations and struggles of people. The dreams are then processed by a talented bunch of dream wizards who will then use this as direction for interactive art installations; transforming these dreams into live performances. Dream wizards will process dreams on a monthly basis, for the period of one year. Culture + dream recycling = Awesome.

Time Stamp: Time Stamp is based on three basic assumptions about human beings:

  1. We enjoy leaving our mark
  2. We enjoy exchanging information
  3. We enjoy using stamps

Using free software which produces QR codes, a standard wristwatch with an ink pad representing the ‘watchface’ is fitted with a twist-on rubber QR code stamp, individualised, and linked to information of one’s choice. That’s it! Owners can bop around town leaving their smartmark outside or on cards for quick info exchange while networking. Kinda like lipstick kisses, but way cooler and less incriminating.

Neighbourhood Diaries: Back by popular demand! Nathalie seeks funding for a programme allowing children to express their perceptions of the world around them as stories and art, developed through local, community workshops. We loved this enough to shortlist it a second time.

Occupy Newfoundland: Wild card entry. Occupy NL is the last Occupy camp in Canada, which we thought was pretty hardcore given they must be freezing their nuts off up there. Their mayor has said he won’t shut them down because he sees no need to, therefore these outdoor Awesomists are sticking it out through the winter. Brrrrrggghhh! The $1000 will be used for workshops, rallies, speakers, and supplies to get through this harsh season. Immediate plans include starting a community kitchen and pushing for electoral reform, first in this province and then in our entire country.

November Winner: IKEA Hack Installation

30 Nov

Drawing attention to Toronto homelessness by furnishing public spaces with the hacked-together remnants of IKEA goods.

What’s your project?
Creating shelters for homeless people from Ikea furniture that provide an aesthetic value to Toronto.

How will it save humanity from itself?
By creating and implementing a distinct artistic project that opens larger public dialogue about homelessness, how public space is used, and the boundary between the moral and aesthetic.

The November Short List

29 Nov

6 Degrees of Invitation: <Insert Bacon joke.> “The supper invitations will be handed out to people who, if they accept the invitation, write their name on the card and then pass it on to someone else who they think is particularly cool, inspiring, and challenging. The invitation is passed on until all 6 slots are filled. The last invitee mails the stamped postcard-invite back to us so we have a record of who will be attending dinner.”

Canadian Citizen Chronicles: A blog and online support group for international sufferers of Tarlov Cyst Disease. Led by a Toronto health activist.

Carly Dunster, Food Lawyer: Lawyer drops day-job to assume awesomeness as legal navigator of the food industry. From savouring to saviour-ing, this lady will offer support to food entrepreneurs so it never gets too hot in the kitchen.

The Dreamcatchers: Theatre performances inspired by the crowdsourced dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future.

IKEA Hack Installation: Drawing attention to Toronto homelessness by furnishing public spaces with the hacked-together remnants of IKEA goods.

Super Street Fire – Turbo Champions Edition: “Each [player] wears a pair of gloves that reacts to specific gestures and a  headset that reads their brain activity. The participants face off by  controlling a two-dimensional ring of fire, creating flames of their own  color to attack and defend. A punch or throwing motion will send a  single wave of fire towards the other player’s side; raising a hand in a  blocking gesture will create a stationary pillar of fire that will  block the oncoming wave; a consistent focused thought will send a rapid  pattern of flame across the entire ring.” [Ed. Note: Paraphrasing just couldn't do this justice.]

Holiday Cards for The Needy: Helping members of Out of the Cold send photos and Christmas cards to loved ones.

Neighbourhood Diaries:Nathalie seeks funding for a programme allowing children to express their perceptions of the world around them as stories and art, developed through local, community workshops.

Poetry Wall: Teenager builds virtual poetry wall to create real-world awareness. Joshua takes his passion for poetry to create fundraising events, express the importance of literacy and emphasis the power of human rights for free speech. Less about X-factor, more about A-factor. Awesome.

The October Short List

30 Oct

Bathurst Boogie-Woogie: Battling bland street-scapes through colour theory. Uplifting our spirits by painting concrete behemoths in soothing hues.

Budget Meals: Top Chef for the rest of us. Video tutorials on how to make healthful meals using local provisions sourced from the food bank.

ChocoSol’s Off-grid Chocolate Factory Mini-mobile: A one-stop-shop truck for all things chocolate and renewable energy. Tasty treats made with pedal-powered love.

Rob Ford Bat Signal: Send a text whenever you are in need of our valiant and personally responsive Mayor! Projects a giant gravy train bat signal into the night sky.

Super Street Fire – Turbo Champions Edition: “Each [player] wears a pair of gloves that reacts to specific gestures and a headset that reads their brain activity. The participants face off by controlling a two-dimensional ring of fire, creating flames of their own color to attack and defend. A punch or throwing motion will send a single wave of fire towards the other player’s side; raising a hand in a blocking gesture will create a stationary pillar of fire that will block the oncoming wave; a consistent focused thought will send a rapid pattern of flame across the entire ring.” [Ed. Note: Paraphrasing just couldn't do this justice.]

Awesomely Strange Home: Converting each window in a model home into a periscope that can be pointed in any direction to look at anything. Catch every sunset or your neighbour in the shower. Now it’s up to you!

The Winter Space Initiative: Cool experiments in making public spaces come alive during the winter – light shows, impromptu skating rinks, or winter markets. Getting a 12 months use out of our shared space.

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