In my capacity as Dean of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation, I found myself spending an hour or so this afternoon cruising around the web, checking up on other Awesome Foundation chapters across North America. And, in the process, I found something interesting. Our associates in Toronto, it would seem, have decided to go rogue.
Before I get into the details, I should first tell you a little something about the organization and how it works. The Awesome Foundation, which now has a few dozen chapters across the country, and several on other continents, was formed in Boston in 2009, when a group of ten individuals agreed to start meeting on a monthly basis with the intention of pooling their money and making a $1,000 cash grant to a group or individual in their community with an idea for a truly awesome, visionary project. They solicited individuals with inspired ideas to come forward, and the rest, as they say, is history. They made good bets on good people, awesomeness was achieved, and the idea spread. To date, $797,000 has been granted through the Awesome network, which now spans the globe, and 797 incredible projects, many of which wouldn’t have otherwise seen the light of day, have been funded. Here in Washtenaw County, for instance, we’ve made almost twenty $1,000 grants since our inception a few years ago. Among other things, we’ve helped a permaculture educator build a bike-powered grow light system that he uses to teach local kids about plant growth, the power of the sun, and any number of other things… and, just recently, we helped get a new local microcinema series get launched. Like other chapters, we just let it be known that we’re looking to help get new and wonderful things of all kids off the ground, and people bring their brilliant, ambitious, sometimes crazy, ideas to us… At least that’s the way it happens here.
The Toronto chapter, though, seems to be playing by a different set of rules. They aren’t just saying, “Come to us with your wonderful ideas.” They’re soliciting specific kinds of work. Specifically, they’re asking the people of Toronto for creative ways to get their scandal-prone Mayor, Rob Ford, out of office. I don’t want to overstate it, but they’ve essentially put a hit out on an elected official, at least in a poetic sense, which I think is both totally awesome, and totally understandable, given the circumstances. Here’s their formal request for proposals.
I love it when organizations adapt to meet the challenges of their environment. Sure, it may be a dangerous precedent, but evolution can be a messy process. It can also, as we know, yield incredible results. The people of Toronto have been put in a unenviable position, and I think that it’s great that my Awesome associates up north have decided to set aside the rule book and solicit “subversively awesome” ideas as to how this “direct threat to (their) city’s inherent Awesomeness” might be neutralized.
I don’t know that our chapter would be up for it, but it’s an interesting idea… Instead of seeding Awesome, what if, on occasion, we identified the impediments to Awesome, and set out to creatively eliminate them? It’s interesting food for thought this cold winter night.
Speaking of A2Awesome, if you’d like to keep up to date on the projects we’ve funded, and our associated activities, please “like” us on Facebook. Or, better yet, send us your most awesome idea. Our next meeting is February 2, and we’ll be awarding $1,000 to the person with the most incredible idea submitted between now and the end of the month.