January 14, 2013

January’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Ashley Cabecinha and Ka Lei Ku to support the hosting of speed-board-gaming events in Ottawa. Ashley and Ka explain that speed-gaming is “like speed dating, but less awkward and way more fun.” The premise is straightforward:  “Show up, sign in, grab a drink and snack, and mingle while you wait for peeps to show. Once everyone’s arrived, you’ll randomly be assigned to a table. One of our ‘Game Genies’ will teach you a game that’s short and sweet, and you’ll have about 30 minutes to play it with your new friends. Once the hourglass runs out, you get a few minutes to grab another drink and snack, and the cycle continues — you move to a new table with a new game and new people!” “Board gaming is so hot right now,” say Ashley and Ka. “We know — we’ve been to ALL the board gaming nights in town. They’re fun, but something is missing: facilitated interaction. We’re also throwing in some crazy delicious snacks, and a little liquid courage to help everyone play nice. We both love food, so we hate it when people offer food at an event, and it’s mediocre, or offer… read more →

Trade School Co-op Ottawa

December 18, 2012

December’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Shirley Manh to support the establishment of a barter school, or “trade” school, in Ottawa. Shirley, whose day job is at a not-for-profit, describes herself as an ordinary person who took an opportunity to do something not so ordinary — she rode and lived off her bicycle for two months. “Afterwards,” she explains, “I spent a year not buying anything brand new and critically re-thought the purchasing decisions I made. That extra-ordinary year taught me a lot about my consumption habits (reuse plastic wrap!), how to make and repair things (toothpaste! shoes!), and the non-monetary value of things I did have (presentation skills). Now,” she says, “I want to share the ‘extra’ with others! I want to start a Trade School in Ottawa. “Trade School Co-op Ottawa,” explains Shirley, “will be an alternative, self-organized school that runs on a barter system — direct exchange of goods or services for other goods or services. My vision is for it to enable sharing of hands-on knowledge and practical wisdom and skills, to show the value of ‘alternative’ education in non-traditional spaces, and to celebrate the social nature of non-monetary exchange.” Interested teachers will be able to… read more →

Senior Organic Gardeners

November 13, 2012

November’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Margaret Tourond-Townson to support organic gardening by seniors in retirement homes. Margaret, a senior herself, will work with fellow Canadian Organic Growers volunteers Rob Danforth, David Townson, and Sara Holzman to expand a program that was started as a pilot this summer. “This past year has been so satisfying to see seniors gardening and loving it,” says Margaret. “We even had a Harvest Celebration with seniors helping to prepare the food that they grew themselves!” They also hope to connect the seniors in the program with children involved in the successful Growing Up Organic program, which was active in 26 schools in Ottawa this year and will be in more than 50 in 2013. To learn more about the Senior Organic Gardeners program, visit http://cog.ca/ottawa/goo/.

Laser Musicbox

October 11, 2012

October’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Christopher Smeenk to support his making music with lasers. Christopher, a physics PhD student at the University of Ottawa and the Attosecond Science Lab at the National Research Council, explains that his scientific work “focuses on applications of ultrashort laser pulses to control and image matter on the atomic scale.” But he’s also interested in, as he puts it, “delivering tangible outcomes that non-specialists can enjoy.” So he has developed a new method to make music that he calls the laser musicbox. “New developments in laser technology,” Christopher explains, “make it possible to use light to create and control sound – merging the sensations of sight and hearing into a single experience. By focusing an ultrashort laser pulse into air it is possible to simultaneously generate an audible sound and colours spanning the entire visible spectrum. By focusing a laser pulse into air we create a plasma, i.e., a gas of electrons and ions. When the hot plasma expands into the surrounding cooler air it creates a shock wave that you can hear. By controlling the frequency of the laser pulses we can manipulate the pitch of the note and play a melody.” So… read more →

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire

September 19, 2012

September’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Remco Volmer and Britta Evans-Fenton to support a Mini Maker Faire in Ottawa. Maker Faires, they explain, “have been called everything from a digital quilting bee to the greatest show and tell on Earth. In the last six years, since the first Maker Faire was held in California, this futuristic arts and crafts fair has become a global phenomenon. The World Maker Faire in New York City draws over 100,000, while small, community driven “Mini” Maker Faires have moved from North American suburbs to Europe, Asia, and even as far as Cairo.” Their Mini Maker Faire, which will be held on the weekend of October 13-14, will brings together families and individuals who celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, sustainability, and science — and those who embrace the Do-It-Yourself or “DIY” spirit. “At Maker Faire,” explains Remco, “the focus is on the process of making — not just the finished product. The real story is the curiosity, vibrancy, and passion of the Makers themselves — individuals and communities drawn together by a common delight in the magic of tinkering, hacking, creating, and reusing materials and technologies.” Remco and Britta are organizing the Mini Maker Faire through Artengine,… read more →