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November 2016’s Awesome Ottawa award went to the glee club at the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities to support expanded activities. Photo courtesy of Awesome Ottawa.

Awesome Ottawa trustees will award their 100th micro-grant this week

By Aileen Duncan, Nickie Shobeiry, and Lee Pepper on April 16, 2018


Awesome Ottawa is awarding its 100th one thousand dollar grant since 2010. That means our local chapter of The Awesome Foundation will have given $100,000 toward projects which further the “interest of awesome in Ottawa.”

On April 19, the trustees of Awesome Ottawa will be joined by past winners to present one more Ottawan with $1,000 to make their brilliant idea a reality. Apt613 is one of those past winners. In 2012, Apt613 volunteers planned a series of free talks made possible to support from Awesome Ottawa. To mark Awesome Ottawa’s $100K Party, we thought we would take the opportunity to share more Awesome Ottawa stories. You can read about all 99 grant winners and meet the Awesome Ottawa trustees here.

Jane’s Walk

Aileen Duncan: Some say that the best is yet to come, so we’ve also included an upcoming event.

The award for February 2018 was granted to Jane’s Walk Ottawa-Gatineau, who are organizing Ottawa’s first ever Jane’s Mob. On Thursday, May 3 from 6–8 pm, the mob will take place in Parkdale Park. Don’t worry—it’s free and family-friendly, and they’re even authorized to take over the park!

Jane’s Mob will launch the annual Jane’s Walk festival, which is a weekend of free walking tours, allowing local people to tell stories about their communities, explore Ottawa and Gatineau, and connect with their neighbours.

Speakers will share stories about Hintonburg, such as “Early Days of the Parkdale Market,” “How to Date in Hintonburg,” and “Brewery Culture in Hintonburg.” Performances will include the Bytown Ukulele Group and electronic jazz with Alexandre Enkerli. Jane’s Walk has also partnered with fellow Awesome Ottawa grantee, Street Art Miniatures, to set up a small scavenger hunt in Parkdale Park. Take a photo of all three mini-charms and you could win a prize.

After 8pm, you’re invited to the Carleton Tavern for some refreshments. In case of rain, the event will take place at the Tavern.

Participants in Synapcity’s Civics Boot Camp. Photo courtesy of Synapcity.


Nickie ShobeiryIn 2012, Synapcity (then Citizen’s Academy) received our first ever grant to support our workshop, designed to teach civic literacy, navigation and dialogue. With that, our pilot program for Civics Boot Camp was born.

We received much more than $1,000 from Awesome Ottawa. We received a vote of confidence and trust from a group of strangers who believed in our vision for Ottawa. Now, we’ve got over 500 Synapcity alumni, and continue our mission of connecting people and institutions to make a better city, together.

Ottawa Zine Fair

Lee Pepper: I applied for an Awesome Ottawa grant on impulse late one night, when I saw their call for applications while scrolling through Twitter.

The Ottawa Zine Fair brought about 45 tablers, many local, others from as far away as Chicago, to sell their self-published writing and art. We used the $1,000 grant to rent space at the Bronson Centre, pay the amazing artist Morgan Sea to design our poster, pay for volunteer-cooked free food at the event, and offer some modest travel stipends to out-of-town tablers, with BIPOC applicants given precedence in recognition of the additional barriers they face to sharing their work. Nobody had to pay to table at the fair, and we collected donations from attendees, which went to the Prisoner Correspondence Project.

Awesome Ottawa made it so easy to apply that I didn’t 100% think through how much work the project was going to be, but thanks to my co-organizer Faelan and the work of many other lovely people, the event was a great success. Getting the Awesome Ottawa grant allowed us to run an event that was financially accessible and in line with our anticapitalist values.

Art Hunt

Kristina Corre: Facebook Memories recently reminded me that it was four years ago this month—April 2014—that I received a grant from Awesome Ottawa. My very, very excited status update to announce the prize read:

Granted $1000 from Awesome Ottawa. LET’S MAKE SOME ART!!

My project idea was submitted on a whim the night of the grant deadline, because Easter was coming up and because I’d recently read of a similar project in BC where an artist was leaving art behind for people to find. “Why not bring a similar project to Ottawa?” I thuoght. “Why not be the delightful art Easter bunny this city deserves? Why not put on an Awesome Art Hunt?

The proposal was ambitious: I wanted to use the funds to purchase 115 1×1′ wooden canvases, so five pieces of original art could be hidden in each of the city’s 23 wards. I was working full-time, so I needed a bit of help to create the art. Happily, the project was met with enthusiasm from the network of artists I’d met through Art Battle, and my Ottawa arts blog, as well as artists who’d read about the project in the Ottawa Citizen. 12 artists joined the fun of creating and hiding original art pieces around the city. With the majority of wooden canvases left stacked high in my living room studio, it took me until September 2015 to finally complete and hide the 115th piece of art.

Today my visual arts, design, and commercial photography practises take up the majority of my time, and I really do credit the Awesome Art Hunt to be the start of it all. I went into the project as someone who drew well and painted decently in acrylics just for funsies (I still haven’t won an Art Battle). Committing to making so many pieces gave me a chance to explore different approaches to art-making. Along the way I discovered how much I love hand-cut collage, which is the focus of my art practise today. I launched the project in May 2013 by displaying the first few completed pieces at Chinatown Remixed. This was my first time participating in the festival so it was also my debut as a real-live art maker and organizer in the Ottawa art community.

I never did end up visiting every single ward to hide art. This was the project’s one failing. I was limited by time and OC Transpo. But the project did bring me to parts of the city I’d never visited before—did you know that Vanier has a forest?! Whenever a new piece was hidden, I would tweet a photo hint of its location, and sometimes within minutes the art would be claimed. I think that was my favourite thing about the project—it was awesome to contribute to people getting out and having fun in the city.

The Awesome Ottawa $100K Party is taking place at Shopify (150 Elgin) on Thursday, April 19 at 7pm. Admission is free with an RSVP.