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A Groundbreaking July for Awesome

9 Aug

The July pitch night, held August 1 at our friendly local Gladstone Hotel, featured cultural immersion in heritage buildings, bike powered funk, an inspiring film idea, and a live performance from our neighbours in the Complete Streets Band.  In the end, we couldn’t resist what seemed like a natural collaboration between the Toronto Bike Music Festival and the Complete Streets Band.  Each received $500 and support for a collaboration when the music fest rolls through town on September 15th.


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!


January Winner Announced!

31 Jan

Some folks see a lawnmower and think about chores, manicured grass, or that time that Uncle Jimmy shouldn’t of had his thumb where he did.  Jason Yarwood sees a community building tool.  The Bellwoods Pushmower Society will be inviting you and your manual push mower out for some summer fun and hopes that more pushmower societies will spring up across the city. If you like parks, people, and the sensation of little grass bits bouncing off your shins, than it’s time to start customizing and decorating your mower in anticipation of the first event of 2012.

Check out the video of the January Award: