Now that’s an awe­some idea

Awe­some Cal­gary re­wards the savvy with $1,000 cash

Calgary Herald - - NEIGHBOURS - ANNALISE KLINGBEIL and thinks re­ward­ing ideas with money is an awe­some idea. Be­yond the gift of the cash award, the foun­da­tion is about be­liev­ing in peo­ple’s ideas. “It’s about al­low­ing peo­ple with great ideas to talk about them in a public venue and pu

On the last Thurs­day of ev­ery month Cal­gar­i­ans gather to hear awe­some ideas and watch as one per­son walks away $1,000 richer.

If that sounds awe­some, you can thank Awe­some Cal­gary, a chap­ter of the Awe­some Foun­da­tion.

Ev­ery month four Cal­gar­i­ans are in­vited to pitch their great ideas, in 90 sec­onds, to a panel of foun­da­tion trus­tees and an au­di­ence of ex­cited guests, at an event known as Thou­sand Dol­lar Thurs­day.

Trus­tees vote and award $1,000 to their favourite idea on the spot, no strings at­tached.

Af­ter pitch­ing his idea at the Feb. 23 Thou­sand Dol­lar Thurs­day, Tim Bar­ber was in pain.

“My leg started to hurt be­cause I kept pinch­ing my­self be­cause I thought I was dream­ing,” says the for­merly home­less Cal­gar­ian who ex­cit­edly shared his idea with the au­di­ence.

Dressed in a suit and tie, Bar­ber spoke about his re­cently launched de­liv­ery busi­ness called Timmy’s Only, which de­liv­ers cof­fee and food to down­town busi­nesses and em­ploys home­less Cal­gar­i­ans.

His awe­some idea was up against some tough com­pe­ti­tion.

Neil Egsgard told the au­di­ence about his idea of build­ing a river surf­ing wave in Kananaskis, while Aoife Bald­win-maher talked about Art for Strangers, her idea of dis­tribut­ing free works of art to the public.

John Frosst spoke about his idea of putting on a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary trav­el­ling Ford Fes­tiva road show called Gum­sphere 300 that aims to pro­mote Al­berta bands around North Amer­ica.

In an Awe­some Cal­gary first, there was a tie and not one but two peo­ple were awarded the grand prize.

Frosst and Bar­ber’s ideas were deemed equally awe­some and both re­ceived $1,000.

Bar­ber was ec­static with his win, wip­ing away tears as he ac­cepted his prize.

He will spend the money on ad­ver­tis­ing, mar­ket­ing, heat­ing pads and a cart that can be wheeled around down­town in all sea­sons.

Launched in Bos­ton in 2009, the Awe­some Foun­da­tion is ded­i­cated to “for­ward­ing the in­ter­est of awesomeness in the uni­verse.”

Af­ter hear­ing about the launch of the Toronto Awe­some Foun­da­tion on the ra­dio in Jan­uary 2011 Awe­some Cal­gary founder Lori Ste­wart was in­spired to start a chap­ter in Cal­gary.

“I truly be­lieve that great ideas need to be re­warded and peo­ple need to be sup­ported in their ideas,” Ste­wart says.

The Cal­gary chap­ter hosted the first Thou­sand Dol­lar Thurs­day in April and has held an event, at a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion, ev­ery month since.

The monthly $1,000 grant is fi­nanced by 12 to 15 trus­tees— Cal­gar­i­ans from dif­fer­ent walks of life, each do­nat­ing $100 of their own money ev­ery month.

“I have to say there isn’t any­one on our team where that $100 a month doesn’t mat­ter,” Ste­wart says.

“This isn’t a whole bunch of rich peo­ple who just want some feel-good ex­pe­ri­ence. These are peo­ple who re­ally care about sup­port­ing ideas in Cal­gary.”

Ev­ery month the trus­tees nar­row down ideas sub­mit­ted on­line to just four fi­nal­ists.

Trustee Reg Tiangha says the foun­da­tion sees a lot of re­ally great ideas (see side­bar) and it’s dif­fi­cult choos­ing four fi­nal­ists and then vot­ing for one win­ner.

“Some­times it’s heart­break­ing that you can’t sup­port them all,” says Tiangha.

While the $1,000 comes with no-strings-at­tached, Ste­wart says the so­cial peer pres­sure that comes with pub­licly re­ceiv­ing $1,000, not to men­tion the knowl­edge that a team of trus­tees be­lieves in your idea, typ­i­cally means win­ners use their money ap­pro­pri­ately.

“There’s no strings at­tached but I’m go­ing to use this money for the busi­ness be­cause that’s why I put my idea in,” says Bar­ber.

Bar­ber launched Timmy’s Only in Jan­uary while liv­ing at a home­less shel­ter and has since moved into his own place in south­west Cal­gary. He heard about Awe­some Cal­gary through a friend

Cour­tesy, Awe­some Cal­gary

Tim Bar­ber won $1,000 from the Awe­some Cal­gary Foun­da­tion for his idea to em­ploy the home­less.

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