Ourshelves: an intimate and growing library

November 1, 2011

Kristina Kearns is the mastermind behind a small book-lined room at the back of a fascinating private-public space in San Francisco’s Mission district. She was recently awarded a $1000 Awesome Foundation grant. I recently toured the space and followed up with some questions for Kristina (and am currently reading the book she recommended for me after a return visit to this fascinating space) Jesse: How do you explain “Ourshelves” to people who have never heard of it before? Kristina: Ourshelves is a space designed to share appreciation for literature. It’s not government-funded like the public library, and it isn’t monetarily focused like a bookshop. It’s about sharing good literature — whether sharing suggestions, long conversations over tea, coffee and sometimes whiskey, lending books to the community, or putting little-known work on the shelf. It’s also about sharing possibilities about what publishing can be. San Francisco is one of the most literary cities in the world, still it doesn’t yet have a space completely dedicated to literature. That’s what Ourshelves strives to be. How did the idea of Ourshelves first come about? The idea of Ourshelves came about when I returned to San Francisco after spending some months living in an idyllic… read more →

Talking Process and Projects with Wendy MacNaughton

October 27, 2011

Wendy MacNaughton is an artist and illustrator living in San Francisco. She was recently awarded a $1,000 Awesome Foundation Grant to help fund Meanwhile: The San Francisco Public Library in it’s own Words— a narrative and illustrative documentary “about the people who work [at libraries], who use them, and how they serve as a community hub for many people, including the aging and homeless.” Wendy’s unique vision and observations pace themselves well in the scrolling narrative to be found online and in a newly published book. She has done a series of Meanwhiles and you can always find them on the Rumpus. I’ve been talking with Wendy a bit about her project— on the phone, over dinner with other Awesome Trustees, and by email: Why the San Francisco Public Library? Wendy: My partner Caroline Paul is a writer and voracious reader who never buys books, only borrows them from the library. I think she suggested it first. And a dear friend of mine, Anne Wintroub, was working at Friends of the [San Francisco Public] Library at the time—she suggested it as well and created the opportunity. Without her introductions to Jill Bourne, the deputy city librarian, and Michelle Jeffers, the… read more →

Snow or Pixels are dually awesome!

October 16, 2010

Teenage Awesome Alert! For October, the Awesome Foundation (SF) is doing something different. We are awarding a dual grant for two projects that encourages teenage boys and girls to use their wits and bodies to work with the elements. Hoods to the Woods started as a bootstrap project by Anthony Carranza to get boys living in the Western Addition neighborhood out of the city and onto the slopes a few hours west of San Francisco. Some boys had never traveled further than the Bay Area before, and had never experienced snow. With a $1,000 Awesome Foundation Grant, Anthony hopes to organize another trip this winter. Check ’em out on Facebook. “My Life: The Video Game” is a 12-week workshop that will “will teach teenage girls to design, program, and produce their own video games based on situations, systems, or relationships in their own lives. Using the visual programming software Scratch, students will learn to create all aspects of their game including the artwork, sound, and programming.” How awesome is that?  It is organized by Oasis for Girls, which is a well-established  “multidisciplinary arts- and youth-development after-school program providing direct services to low-income, immigrant and girls of color, ages 11-24, throughout… read more →

“Sounding the Waters” in the San Francisco Bay

August 3, 2010

Congratulations to the July grant recipient Claire Schoen, who is creating a series of awesome audio tours about how climate change is affecting the San Francisco Bay. These tours will celebrate the biodiversity of the Bay while exploring the impact of sea level rise on coastal communities near the Bay and the human and natural life that depends on them. It will also explore what steps people are taking to address this shift. Claire Schoen is a media producer living in the Bay Area. Along with audio tours, Claire creates documentary-style radio programs for distribution on public stations nationwide and multimedia “webstories” for the Internet. Her media work has covered a wide range of subjects including nuclear proliferation, physical disability, communications technology and care-giving for the dying, as well as the environment. Claire uses sound to place listeners into a scene by employing verite storytelling and rich ambience beds. Check out www.claireschoenmedia.com to hear her past work.

San Francisco-Bay Area Awesome Seeks Same

July 8, 2010

The SF micro-trustees recently discussed what it means to be Awesome, and the types of projects we want to fund. We have received some truly AWESOME project proposals so far. We realize, however it would be helpful to articulate some guidelines to help future applicants write the best proposal possible.
It’s difficult to reach an easy opinion on what awesomeness means, and we didn’t agree on everything—which is probably a good thing. But we did come up with the following suggestions: You could be the most awesome person in the universe, and have the most awesome idea, but if you don’t tell us how $1,000 will be used or why it will make a big difference, we won’t fund you. A project that requires millions of dollars, or even several tens of thousands right now, is not a strong candidate for a $1k micro grant. Even if it’s a great project, it won’t get funded if we don’t think the grant will move your project forward in a significant way. We would much rather fund a project where $1,000 is the difference between yes and no. (That being said, we like people who think big, so if a $1,000 is an… read more →