Awesome Foundation - Calgary recognizes Shannon Hoover's idea for wearable technology fashion show
The central branch of the Calgary Public Library was filled with excited discussions about new projects on Nov. 22 during Thousand Dollar Thursday. The event hosted by the Awesome Foundation - Calgary gives away a $1,000 to individual who has pitched an idea to the foundation that is, to say the least, "awesome." A few dozen people arrived to listen to the pitches and to see who would be recognized for their awesome idea.
Shannon Hoover walked away from Thursday's event beaming. He had been awarded the money to help fund Make Fashion, a wearable technology fashion show to be held in January 2013.
Hoover, owner of Endeavor Arts Gallery and Events Space, said that his business focus has always centered on the convergence of art and technology. He said events such as the planned Make Fashion show help, "build the ecosystem around (art and technology), because it doesn't exist in Calgary yet."
Hoover said he plans to put the money from the Awesome Foundation - Calgary towards his designers, who will be using microcontrollers, LED lights and 3D printing among other things to construct the clothing line for the show.
Awesome Foundation – Calgary
Lori Stewart founded the Calgary chapter of the Awesome Foundation in April 2011. The foundation is not a charity, but is instead a private community foundation dedicated to encouraging positive initiatives.
Each month Stewart, along with nine other board trustees, donates $100 out of her own pocket to be pooled and awarded to an individual who has presented an exemplary idea to the Foundation.
"It's a gift," she said. "I guess it's a gift of belief in people and their ideas."
The ideas must be achievable, and the Foundation recommends that they should benefit the city or community, help start a business or are just an idea that no one else has had.
Ideas that have won before in Calgary have included CLOUD, a giant electrical cloud created out of incandescent light bulbs that debuted at the Nuit Blanche festival this past September, and Urban Stationary. This project aimed to decorate the city's transit system with the local artists' work.
Individuals who have a project idea are encouraged to submit their idea online to the foundation. Four individuals are then selected from the online submissions to attend the monthly event, where they pitch their idea in person to the panel of trustees. Presenters only have 90 seconds to explain their idea, why they are the right person to pull off the idea and how they plan to spend the money if they win.
This month's event
Each presenter Thursday night was greeted enthusiastically and encouraged by cheers to share their idea with the crowd.
The crowd saw a presentation on a dance opera, complete with a short performance.
Giggles ensued when an individual pitching their strategy for a music festival on Dec. 21, 2012 – the supposed end of the world – joked that the Mayans were thinking ahead when they planned the world's last day to fall on a Friday.
Another pitch centered on attaching padlocks onto public art as a declaration of love for Calgary.
Kiran Somanchi was recognized by the foundation in 2011 for Audio Mob. This event would entail hundreds of people meeting together at a predetermined time and place. They would download an MP3 at the event, and hit play for the first time together.
The MP3 would be a mix of local music and would direct individuals to do crazy things as they worked their way to various locations, creating a spectacle. Somanchi was able to host the first Audio Mob in August of 2011 in Prince's Island Park with the money he was awarded.
Somanchi said the foundation has given him a renewed appreciation of Calgary, and has allowed him to defend his city against those who claim that all it has to offer is the mountains and the Calgary Flames.
"It's given me more of an authority to say Calgary is more than these things," he said. "Or Calgary is whatever you want it to be. And if you want it to be something different, you've got to step up and take the opportunity, take the chance to put the effort in to change it."
- By Danielle Semrau