Small Projects, Big Impact Some creative projects require years of planning, large staffs, and extensive fundraising campaigns. Others don’t – but that doesn’t mean that smaller projects are easy to accomplish or that they are any less important. On March 2, 2013, John Carnwath and Derek Sherman of The Chicago Awesome Foundation sat down with Janet Attarian (Chicago Department of Transportation), Katherine Darnstadt (Latent Design / Architecture for Humanity Chicago), and Lindsay Obermeyer (The Red Thread Project®) at the Creative Chicago Expo to discuss Small Projects and Big Impacts. An audio recording of the discussion is now available online. The panelists discuss small-scale projects of various sorts – “small” being defined variously in terms of physical dimension, budget size, duration, or institutional establishment – asking why people do them, how they get funded, what challenges to expect, and what their impact is.
We thought we’d try something new in Chicago this month, so instead of picking our winner in the smokey backroom of an undisclosed location like we usually do, we invited six finalists to pitch their project proposals to a live audience and let the crowd decide on the winner. All six of the projects were certainly worthy of a thousand-dollar grant, but after hearing all the pitches and engaging in 20 minutes of intense deliberation the dedicated crowd at the Next Door Café rose to the challenge of selecting a single winner for the night. Elizabeth Ortiz & Gilberto Sandoval, two teenagers from Yollocalli Arts Reach, delivered an enthusiastic pitch for their “Clean Graffiti” project that won the audience over. The idea is simple, creative, and compelling: they’re going to make stencils, rent a pressure washer, and blast positive messages into the grime of the city’s sidewalks. In doing so they’re flipping the idea of graffiti on its head, replacing the defacement of public property with an act of civil service (cleaning the sidewalks) and turning the negativity of gang tags into encouraging messages. Congratulations to Elizabeth and Gilberto, and a big nod of recognition to Yollocalli for engaging and fostering such promising kids.
Hot on the heels of awarding our first Chicago grant, WBEZ (our local Chicago NPR station) produced a piece about us for Changing Gears. We also successfully grew our trustee squad to 20, and just closed our call for August proposals. We’re planning on announcing our next two grants within a week or so. Awesome times in the Chi! Be sure to keep up with us on Tumblr and @chicagoawesome.
Ok awesome friends, it’s on! Chicago has opened it’s doors and is accepting proposals through May 15th. We’ll then retire to our Awesome clubhouse, hand type each application into our Awesome computer, and analyze the awesome potential of Chicago. We’ll inform the grantee by May 30th, and plan to have a sweet award ceremony / party at Small Bar. For more information on the Chicago Chapter, including bio’s of the trustees and an idea of the projects we love, head to Awesome Chicago.
Hi. CHicago is launching today. Could use advice: how you do best let people in your city know you exist? I’m sending out a press release–but if any of you have friends in Chicago, please ask them to tell people about us, and send friends to our new Facebook page. Thanks!