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May Winner: Hashtag Teeter-Totter!

30 May

Click on the image for a larger version of the notes!

20130530 Awesome Foundation

March Winner: F-You Forgiveness Project

29 Mar

Our winner this month is the F-You Forgiveness Project. Love. Loss. Heartbreak. Tara and Andrea gave an amazing presentation. Winner Q&A and pitch video to come soon!

January Winner Q&A

4 Feb

Here’s our Q&A with Matt Boulos, of the Teen Legal Helpline, our January 2013 Awesome Toronto winner!

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

We run a service called Teen Legal Helpline ( It’s a website where teens can ask their most pressing legal questions and get answers from experienced lawyers. We launched a week ago.

2) Legal help can be really complicated. Do you anticipate that some users of your site will require assistance beyond email and telephone conversations?

One of the hardest things about having a legal problem is that you don’t know what to do. That’s what we’re trying to solve for teens. As you correctly point out, some situations require more involvement than that. Our lawyers understand that referring teens to good help is as important as giving good initial advice.

3) How can people get in contact with you if they want to help out?

Shoot me a note at matt at I’d love to hear from you.

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!

November Winner: LoveCRAFT T.O.

18 Dec

The Awesome Toronto winner this month is David Carey of LoveCRAFT T.O.  Winner’s Q&A:

1) Congratulations!  What’s your project all about?
Thank you! It’s not everyday that someone hands you a paper bag full of money and says “go forth and make your City more awesome”. We feel really lucky to live in Toronto and can’t wait to marginally increase our collective awesomeness quotient.
LoveCRAFT T.O. is a roaming vending machine that will sell handmade art and craftwork. A vintage cigarette machine will be rescued, transformed, and filled with art. For just $5 or $10, patrons will be able to purchase unique work from local designers, artists, artisans, and craft-makers. LoveCRAFT will spend about 2 months in each location, continuing to travel around various locations in the City.
2) When do you think you’ll have the project actually selling art?  Any ideas on the initial venue?
LoveCRAFT is inspired by a similar project in Pittsburgh (the “Craft-o-tron”!), so our first step will be to connect with them for their advice. We hope to be up and running by Summer 2013. There’s still a lot of work to be done before we can consider artist submissions. First, we have to secure the machine so we know details on sizing, selection, etc. We’re also looking forward to enlisting some community partners.
The Catering & Events Manager at The Gladstone was nice enough to offer us their space for the launch of LoveCRAFT. We think that’s perfect, since that’s where our Awesome Foundation grant was awarded. After The Gladstone, we’ll likely venture outside of west end. We want to make sure that LoveCRAFT T.O. roams all throughout the City, both within arts/craft hubs and beyond.

3) I’m an artist / art lover and I’d like to be a part of your project!  Were can I follow your work, and how can I get in touch?
In the meantime, people can start following our new Twitter feed @LoveCRAFT_TO. Soon we’ll also have a Facebook account so people can start getting in touch then. Stay tuned!

Awesome sketchnotes: Kensington Mesh Network, Women and Tech, Lovecraft TO, 360 Screenings

29 Nov

Got an awesome idea? Every month, the Awesome Foundation Toronto trustees get together and award $1,000 in a brown paper bag to the coolest idea and team!

Here are the sketchnotes from tonight’s pitches. Click on the image for a larger version.

20121129 Awesome Foundation Toronto - Kensington Mesh Network, Women and Tech, Lovecraft TO, 360 Screenings

Congratulations to Lovecraft TO, the cigarette vending machine turned art vending machine. Good luck with your project!

August Winners: Park Yourself Here AND Little Free Library

5 Sep

In an unprecedented move, probably never to be repeated, the Toronto Awesome Foundation elected this month to award TWO full $1000 prizes, instead of one!  After a riveting performance by our four shortlist contenders (Park Yourself Here, Penny Project, Little Free Library, I’m Lost), we awarded money to both Park Yourself Here, a Park(ing) Day art installation to create public space in downtown Toronto by taking over a parking space, and Little Free Library, a project to build tiny pole-mounted libraries to be installed at Trinity Bellwoods Park and in other locations all across Toronto!  Check out the video of our pitch night evening here:


Q&A with Bill Wrigley of Little Free Library:

Congratulations! What’s your project all about?

The short term project of me and my team is to install Little Free Libraries in one of Toronto’s larger and popular parks; Trinity Bellwood’s located in Mike Layton’s ward of Trinity-Spadina.

Little Free Libraries are miniature buildings the size of a doll house mounted on a post in a public area that have a sign saying: “Take a Book-Return a Book”. They are for the public’s pleasure and it’s free. There are now over 2000 of them world-wide and growing fast. The first library opened in Toronto 9 months ago in front of our home. There are now 7 in operation with another 8 under construction. In addition, there are two other public parks that we are talking to about a similar arrangement.

Trinity Bellwoods park is always filled with people of all ages and has a very active “Friends of the Park” association. This is an ideal place for Little Free Libraries. We are committed to making the Little Free Library project happen there. However, the construction and installation costs of lumber, hardware, paint and labour will exceed $1000. We can provide the direction and project management. We can even provide a builder. However, we cannot provide the money.

The $1000 award that Awesome provided us will ensure that the project will happen much to the joy of those who use the park. More importantly, it will become the motivation for other parks to follow suit.

I’ve got/need books! Where can I find one of these libraries?

Once a Little Free Library is registered with the Little Free Library Organization, they appear on the organization’s Google Map that is part of their web site ( These libraries are all over the world: take a look for yourself. For Toronto, click in on the Toronto area of the map then click on one of the library icons closest to you. A picture of the library will pop up with the address of its location. As the Toronto libraries are recent installations, some of them are yet to be registered. In time we expect to have most of them on the Google Map.

I want to get more involved! Where can I learn more about Little Free Libraries, like how to build my own?

To start, visit the Little Free Library site that is loaded with pictures, ideas, plans and building tips, Go to:

For further information, Google “Little Free Libraries, Bill Wrigley” and see what crops up. There are tons of stuff regarding Toronto and the GTA to explore.

You can also me at (remove nospam) to get into detailed questions. I can really help.


Q&A with Andrew Chiu of Park Yourself Here:

Congratulations, what’s your project all about?

‘PARK Yourself Here’ is about transforming a Toronto downtown street parking spot into a temporary urban park. Rather than a placeholder for a single car this installation will become a place for people to gather. Interacting under the floating silhouette of a car, the passerby will have a chance to escape the hustle of the urban core.

This installation is to celebrate Park(ing) day, an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists activate the metered parking space as a site for creative experimentation, political and cultural expression, and unscripted social interaction.

When is Park(ing) Day and where can I see your installation?

On Friday, September 21, hundreds of cities around the world will participate in transforming metered parking spaces into healthier and more beautiful places for their inhabitants. Here in Toronto, we will transform the metered parking space on Queen St. and Peter St. into a colorful and interactive experience for pedestrians. We will officially launch it at noon and it will run until 9:00pm.

Where can I find more information and get involved?

Please find more information and help fund our project at the crowdfunding website.  Any donation will help us, thank you.

Congratulations to our winners!

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]

May Winner: Dr. Cornelius von Martlehüp’s Fantacular Tent of Spectastic Oddities

6 Jun

Q&A with the winner, Joel Babcock:

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

Dr. Cornelius von Martlehüp’s Fantacular Tent of Spectastic Oddities will travel around Toronto during the course of the summer eliciting responses of delight and arousal from anyone courageous enough to enter. One day there might be a puppet show going on inside, while the next there could be a reenactment of the 2nd Defenestration of Prague. No matter what you find though, it’s bound to be fun for the whole family! (Except for men over the age of 47.)

2) Where do you get your crazy ideas from?

While I was working in a Swedish opium den during the 1950s, a customer came up to me and said:

“Creativity is about perceiving the world differently. When you see something interesting, take a moment to twist it around in your mind – imagining an exaggerated version, its exact opposite, how you could add or subtract from it, unusual settings you could place it in, whatever. If you want to have crazy ideas, you can’t just pull them from thin air. Go out and experience everything with an open mind, allowing the connections you make to be loose and numerous. ”

So anyways, I guess my point is that if you see good-quality AA batteries on sale, you should probably buy them; even if you don’t need them right now, you’re bound to use them in the future.

3) Did we ask you this question as part of the Q&A?*

No, you didn’t.

4) If I’d like to volunteer or get involved, who should I contact? Do you have a website?

If you’d like to volunteer, you can send a message to

If you’d just like to check us out, our website is

And of course, you can still get in contact with us the old-fashioned way by slathering your naked body in raspberry jam, walking into the middle of the nearest street, and screaming out quotes from the Disney classic Bambi. We’ll be by to pick you up approximately 15 minutes after you start shrieking.

* EDITOR’S NOTE: We really didn’t include this question – he added it as part of his answers.**

**ADDENDUM TO EDITOR’S NOTE: We are also not responsible for writing this Editor’s Note.

April Winner: The Love Lettering Project

2 May

Q&A with the winner, Lindsay Zier-Vogel:

1) Congratulations! What’s your project all about?
The Love Lettering Project is a community arts project that has been bringing love letters to strangers for the last eight years. After I distributed 500 one-of-a-kind love letters to beloved places in Toronto last summer, I’m asking others to create their own love letters at a series of community events this summer.
First, you have to
think of something you love about your city, then write a love letter to it (and turn it into a pretty little art piece), slip your love letter into an airmail envelope marked ‘love’ and leave it for a stranger to stumble upon.

It gets people thinking and talking about what they really love about this fair city of ours, and what could be more *awesome* than stumbling upon a love letter…!!

2) Where can we follow your project?

Summer events and love letters can be found at:!
Everything love letter-y will also be on my twitter feed: @lindsayzv

3) Do you have a favorite love letter from your previous efforts that you could share with us?
One of my favorite poems was to patio season:

I love that you are full to the brim
when the sun shines
and the city bares its

Also, I hung a bunch of love letters from a tree in Trinity Bellwoods Park last summer, and when I was biking through a few days later, I found the envelopes had been emptied of my love letters and replaced with someone else’s. It read: “You are a babetron. A babetron 90,000!”

4) I’d like to help distribute your letters! How can I get involved?
Yay! This is the focus of this year’s project – for people to make their own letters and leave them for strangers to find! I will be set up outside The Good Egg in Kensington Market for P.S. Kensington events and also through The Day of Delight in Dufferin Grove Park in June. More details and events are up at

Thanks so much!
Thank YOU so much!


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