Winner for September, 2017: KW Library of Things

Congratulations to this month’s winner, Devon and KW Library of Things!  Check out their progress at KW Library of Things.


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Winner for January, 2017: Waterloo City Limits Bike and Folk Festival

The Region of Waterloo has a country side boundary line (see map: that it created to protect farmland and sensitive environmental areas. This line faces regular challenges from housing developers looking to create new suburbs. The last time that the line was challenged, the Region was forced to push the boundary line back.

To protect the country side boundary line it is important to embed it in the culture of our community by building awareness of both the existence of the boundary line, and its significance for the sustainable development of Waterloo Region. So let’s have a party that celebrates the boundary line and all that it gives us!

This summer, we will be hosting Waterloo City Limits, a bike and folk music festival just past the St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market at the Waterloo Rod & Gun Club.

Here’s how it will work:

Cycling: The circumference of the boundary line is approximately 120km. The day will start with cyclists having a friendly & fun ride that (as much as possible) follows the line.

Activities: Back at the Rod & Gun Club, bike tuneups will be offered, a course will be setup to teach safe biking skills to kids, and local sustainability & cycling groups will have booths for those looking to engage beyond this day.

Food: Super tasty locally-sourced food will be available.

Folk: Richard Garvey is a great local musician who has put on a small folk fest the last few years with other local artists. Richard will be hosting a local folk music fest at the Rod & Gun Club to welcome cyclists as they ride in and engage attendees who aren’t cycling.

Cyclists & attendees will be invited to donate a suggested amount, and food will be sold at accessible prices. Local craft beer will also be sold. Profits will seed a boundary line action fund to pay expenses of local NGOs if they need to defend the boundary line in future.

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Winner for October, 2016: KW Slam Poetry Team

img_20161004_202546_editFounded in 2011, the KW Poetry Slam is a series of community-building spoken word poetry events in Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario. KWPS is an official slam community under Spoken Word Canada.

By bringing together diverse artists in Kitchener Waterloo, the KW Poetry Slam builds a strong arts community by hosting a series of spoken word poetry events in Kitchener and Waterloo. The regular season slam series sends a team to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.

This month’s KW Awesome Foundation $1000 grant is going to send the KW Slam Poetry Team to Winnipeg to participate at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word from October 23 -30th.  Congratulations, you’re all awesome!


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Winner for June, 2016: Homeless in Waterloo

Homeless in Waterloo is a social project that provides an opportunity for our community to connect with people who are experiencing or who have experienced homelessness through their photos and stories.

By having this connection made online, it allows our community members to offer support at their own pace, on their own time, and at a level they are comfortable with.

There are so many organizations and groups in the Waterloo Region that provide the basic necessities for those experiencing homelessness and we greatly appreciate their tremendous efforts. We want to build on that strong foundation and provide people in our community with a genuine friendship and a sense of belonging.

The stories we share are only the beginning of our journey with them and along the way, we grow to become their friends and do our very best to help them achieve their goals – whether that be filling the fridge with groceries, learning how to use a computer, or sleeping on a new mattress.

To better help individuals achieve their goals, we’ve created the Homeless in Waterloo Network. The purpose of this network is to encourage open discussion on homelessness, provide a medium for anyone to share new ideas for our project, but more importantly, pool our community’s resources to help those who are in need.

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Winner for April, 2016: Friendzone Collective

We are a Kitchener-Waterloo arts collective working in all thing DIY, independent and weird. Founded in January 2016. We aim to promote music and art through events, live shows and resource sharing. Safety, inclusivity and open dialogue are prioritized in all that we do. We have been collaborating with countless individuals, artists, spaces and organizations within the city and have continued to gain more and more support from our community. This money will be one more step in making a thriving, radical arts community.


Posted in Blog, Pitch Night Wrap-up

March’s Pitch Night recap and Winner!

Our most recent Pitch Night at The Boathouse saw seven excellent groups pitching many compelling projects! This was certainly a tough decision!

The winner of the $1,000 grant was the Outdoor Classroom & School Yard Greening project, from Centennial Public School in Cambridge:

This group is building an outdoor classroom space and nature-based playground for use by their students and the local community at large. They plan to create a natural area, pathways and additions for art, exploration, and nature study to complement their outdoor learning curriculum.

This KW Awesome grant is funding a specific portion of the playground/sensory areas: art panels, texture-play sand area, pathways (for running!) and a bridge. They’re also hoping to add a log climbing structure that will promote gross motor skills and physical fitness (disguised as fun!).

Here are the other awesome projects from the evening:

  • Krysta Traianovski: Citivate – solving boredom by creating positive spaces for teenagers to hang out for free.
  • Pricilla Owusu-Amoah: Same World Same Future – providing workshops and other events for Africa Culture Camp.
  • Gena Meldazy: KW BookCycle – building a permanent, interactive public art installation in Uptown Waterloo to borrow, lend and swap books.
  • Niket Soni: The Markt – an online platform to connect local food industry businesses directly to consumers.
  • The Bright Blue Door: Creative Tank Improvement – buying an industrial air purifier for their artist’s shared studio space collective.
  • Shaima E: shecraftz workshops and more – buying equipment & establishing a non-profit for providing workshops and events to families with special needs.

A huge thanks goes out to all of our pitchers and the public that came out to see them! We’d also like to thank The Boathouse for hosting us and providing some much-needed audio support!

As always, if your group wasn’t selected this time around, please feel free to come back and pitch again! Our next pitch night is Tuesday May 26th. If you have a project or idea and want to pitch, please review our Application Guidelines! Deadline for applications is May 15th.

The KW Awesome Foundation is operated and funded by volunteers – If you’d like to help make awesome things happen in Waterloo Region, please consider becoming a trustee!

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May 2013 Pitch Night Winner, Meg Leslie’s poem: I want to tile a wall

I want to tile a wall.

It’s a dream that began from a page in a book with a picture of a wall

that Gaudi made

in the beautiful streets of Barcelona.

It’s a dream I found alive and well

and living in the heart of Isaiah Zagar

in the tough streets of south Philadelphia.

I want to tile a wall.

But I’m warning you now,

It will be beautiful.

My wall will be different than my mentor Isaiah’s.

My vision is Not just to encrust but to totally enhance.

And made from my hands!

(my head, my heart, my hands!)

And huge!

Bigger than I can imagine I can handle!

I want to tile a wall.

A wall, that when the sun shines, my bits of mirror reflect back at you

the brilliance of that day.

And maybe if you’re open to it, it will remind you

that you too can reflect light!

I want to tile a wall so that when it’s cold out,

you might look up and see it and it will warm you,


like hot chocolate.

And you will pause

from what you were doing,

from where you were going

and you will wonder for a moment,

Who did that?

How’d they do that?

When did they do that?

But you won’t wonder why I did that.

You’ll know.

You’ll know, looking at that wall

that I was an artist and that that wall

was my dream

(and it came true.)

I want to tile a wall.

You can see all of Meg’s work at

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Looking for three new Trustees

The KW Awesome Foundation is just over a year old, and we’ve gone through some incredible growth and changes in the past few months. We’ve seen plenty of interesting projects and ideas come to life, and we are looking forward to seeing more!

Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to three of our Trustees, but now we are looking for three more awesome people.

Do you have $100 burning a hole in your pocket you’d like to give away to amazing projects/people in the area once every two months at our Pitch Nights to help make KW an even awesomer place to live? Then contact us!

We meet every month, one monthly meeting to catch-up and talk ideas, the other is our Pitch Night.

Help us to make KW awesome!


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May 12 Pitch Night Wrap-up

There were nine pitches Wednesday night, and all of them were excellent ideas. Their original submissions were posted earlier. Below is our brief summary of the shenanigans, including links to sites and as much event information as we could dig up. If you are one of the pitchers (pitchees?) and have more information to share with us that you’d like on this site, please email it to If you are a member of the larger #kwawesome community, please, attend their events, donate time or money, connect with the presenters, just help them out any way you can. Each one has a great idea that would help to make KW an even more awesome place to live.

Above: the trustees get ready to hear the pitches.

Pitch #1: Nerd Night

Charlotte Armstrong presented. KW is the second Canadian chapter for Nerd Night, a worldwide organization that helps nerds get together and have nerdy talks and share nerdy ideas and do awesome nerdy stuff. Basically, Nerd Night centers around making presentations and the KW Nerd Night Organization would put the money towards buying a projector for the presentations since borrowing one for each Nerd Night can be very difficult.

Nerd Night KW has a Facebook page. Join it. Their next meet up is May 29 4:30pm at Rum Runner Pub. You better be there.

Pitch #2: Many Faces of Cambridge

Robert Fox presented. His brave wife is the one in the red bodysuit. Robert, in conjunction with other artists, is basically talking to locals in Cambridge and painting their portraits. The portraits are to then be put on display in local businesses as well as at a show at Cambridge City Hall.  The goal is to get 100 portraits done, telling the stories of the ordinary citizens of Cambridge you see every day. The show at City Hall in Cambridge will have people in bodysuits holding the portraits and sharing the details of the lives of the person whose portrait they’re carrying. Money will go towards the show and the portraits.

Robert has a site. The City Hall show is Friday, June 15 from 6 to 11pm at Cambridge City Hall. See you there!

Pitch #3: Lord Willing

Katie Klein presented. Her organization is working to put together a calendar/planner for Christian activists who are devoted to the teachings of Jesus and ideas such as: justice, kindness, cooperation, education, equality, and the like. They are fans of Christian Anarchism. The prize money would go directly towards the cost of printing the planners.

Pitch #4: Berlin Shorts

Sam Varteniuk presented. Sam has put together a short film competition in KW called Berlin Shorts (shouldn’t that be called Lederhosen?). Various short films produced in the KW area are screened, with feedback provided from other directors, and a vote for winners. Winners receive a prize and are encouraged to re-submit again. The event costs about $500 to run, and money would go towards running more events and prizes. The next screening it May 26, 2012 at Queen Street Commons Cafe.

Visit their site. Go to the next screening. Do it.

Pitch #5: The Fairy Catcher’s Companion

Amy Neufeld presented. It must be noted that she is the spouse of Sam Varteniuk, who presented for Berlin Shorts, our first KW Awesome Foundation competition between spouses! Will one end up on the couch tonight? The Fairy Catcher’s Companion is about entertainment for kids that doesn’t make parent’s want to gouge their eyes out (I’m looking at you, Backyardigans). It is a play with an all-female cast that addresses important issues and questions for kids while treating them like grown-ups. The prize money would go towards actually paying the artists to put on the performance.

The show being run is July 6 and 7 at the Registry Theatre.

Pitch #6: Bars & Tunes

Jennifer Cushing presented. Jennifer and another Conestoga student have started Bars & Tunes, a weekly video to promote local musicians. They interview them, show some clips of recent on-stage performances, and post it all on the internet. But, alas, getting a hold of a camera to film it is every week can prove to be quite difficult. The prize money would go towards purchasing a camera to film the interviews every week.

You can watch episodes of Bars & Tunes on their Youtube channel. Go give ’em some traffic.

Pitch #7: WorldVUZE

Julia Coburn presented. WorldVUZE is a service being developed for kids in classrooms K-12 to connect with kids in other classrooms all around the world. The idea is for students to share their perspectives of topics being learned in their class with kids in other classrooms, in order to gain a global perspective about topics being learned in class. Prize money would go towards creating a website to help further their goals.

Pitch #8: KW Optimist

Patrick Campbell presented. The bathrooms at the Camp Heidelberg campground have broken down, and it may cost up to $20,000 to fix them. 16,000 kids go through the camp a year, and if the bathrooms can’t be fixed and brought back up to standards, the local school boards won’t send any kids there. The prize would go towards the future cost of the fix to the plumbing.

Pitch #9: Digital Citizenship

Chris Bignell presented. Chris is a teacher in KW who has started a project to combat online bullying. His idea is to have students design anti-cyberbullying posters for other students. Prize money would go towards incentives for students to create the posters as well as printing costs for the posters.

Decision-making time is always the hardest part, at some point just about every pitch was considered for the $1,000 grant. There are just so many great ideas to make the Kitchener-Waterloo area an even better place to live, but only one prize to give. Fortunately it is perfectly fine to re-apply.

The $200 People’s Choice prize went to Digital Citizenship.

…and the $1,000 went to Berlin Shorts!

Thanks to all nine of our pitch presenters for coming out and sharing their vision of how to make KW an even more awesome place to live. About two months until our next pitch night, so please, submit your ideas now.

Posted in Blog, Pitch Night Wrap-up

May 9, 2012 Pitch Night Submissions

The submissions to the KW Awesome Foundation that were invited to pitch night include:

The Fairy Catcher’s Companion – Pay The Artists!

Lightning Banjo Productions is a new theatre company providing high quality Theatre for Young Audiences in Kitchener Ontario. Founded by husband/wife team Sam Varteniuk and Amy Neufeld (who have been creating theatre for over 15 years), their first production will be a play called “The Fairy Catcher’s Companion” for ages 6 and up.

What Makes This Project Awesome
In short, quality. The script is top-notch. Written in the style of The Secret Garden, the story is a mature exploration of childhood challenges (loss, outgrowing childhood ideas, difficult siblings), but it also has a sass-talking fairy! Written by up-and-coming Edmonton playwright Ellen Chorley, the play has already been nominated for a Sterling award, and has had two productions in the west. It’s time for Kitchener to enjoy the awesome!

Lightning Banjo Productions is committed to producing theatre for young audiences that they deserve. Kids are smart, and they shouldn’t be spoken down to. The script will challenge them, but also provides plenty of whimsy and fun for them to enjoy. Our priority is quality; we want the best people, the best scripts, and the best production values. To this end, even though we currently do not have any funding besides our own pockets, we are committed to paying our artists (more on that later).

What Makes Lightning Banjo Awesome
Commitment. Amy and Sam are both professionally trained theatre professionals with a passion for storytelling. Both are accomplished writers, performers, and directors. Sam is a founding member of Edmonton’s sketch comedy group Mostly Water Theatre, and a writer for CBC’s The Irrelevant Show. Amy has been writing and directing children’s shows for years, both as a drama teacher and as a community and professional director. The company is focusing on young audiences in order to give children an amazing early theatrical experience. The hope is that this will ignite an interest in performing arts that will last their entire lives, either as performers themselves, or as much needed audience members and enthusiasts.

Bars & Tunes

Me and a fellow classmate from Conestoga College have put together a youtube show called Bars and Tunes were we go to a locale spot called Maxwell’s Music House and conduct interviews with Canadian artists and get clips of their on stage performances once a week. But it has become increasingly hard to keep the show going because we have no access to equipment like we once had through the school and dreams of taking it through out the tri-cities is even farther away.
We would like just a bit of help to make this happen.

Just see for yourself how great the show really is.

Berlin Shorts

I grew up in KW but moved to Edmonton to do my Masters degree in Drama. My intention was to spend 3-5 years there, but ten years, 1 marriage and 1 kid later my wife and I decided to return to the land of free babysitting . . . I mean family. I wanted to return to Kitchener because I’d heard so much about the exciting things happening downtown and wanted to be part of the revitalisation. I wanted to lay down some roots, dig in and really focus some energy on planting seeds and watching them grow. And the thing I’m best at growing is creative opportunities.

I stayed in Edmonton because of the vibrant arts scene. I produced sketch comedy shows and did a lot of arts admin, but toward the end of my stay I began presenting a short film competition that really excited me in the way it connected emerging and established film makers. I liked it so much that I decided to start a festival here just like it. And so Berlin Shorts was born.

Berlin Shorts is a new and on-going adjudicated short film event presented in association with the Multicultural Cinema Club. Films are screened before a live audience and adjudicated by three industry professionals. Judges provide live feedback, and points are awarded based on audience and judge voting. Filmmakers whose films are selected for inclusion receive $50 IMAA screening fees. Top-scoring films get renewed for the next event and win prizes.

The notion is to stimulate continued and sustained creativity by setting deadlines and commanding repeat performances from film makers. The Multicultural Cinema Club provides a free venue for screening (the Queen Street Commons Cafe), but I pay screening fees, the cafe employee, and related costs out of my pocket. It costs me about $500 per event; I’ve done two events so far, and have a third planned for May 26, 2012.

I intend to keep investing my own money in this project because I believe in it. In the three years I ran a similar program in Edmonton I saw tremendous improvement in the quality of submissions, but even more exciting was how film makers met each other and started working together. Several of them now work professionally; one works for Kenny Hotz (Kenny vs. Spenny). After I get a few years under my belt, I’m certain that the funding I intend to seek from all three levels of government will come through to support this very worthwhile project.

But until then, every little bit helps . . .

Nerd Nite Kitchener Waterloo

Nerd Nite is an international non-profit organization that coordinates monthly events catering to nerd culture. I am only the second Canadian to be a Nerd Nite “boss” and I am determined to make Kitchener Waterloo the nerd capital of the world!
The events consist of 2 or 3 20 minute presentations conducted by volunteer members of the community, trivia, and at other times there are special events like Nerd speed dating.
The presentations are done by knowledgeable members of the community and usually involve science (space, biology etc.), geek culture, pop culture, and tech.
Nerd Nite Kitchener Waterloo takes place at the Rum Runner pub and we had our very first Nerd Nite in March that was a huge success!
I am also a Yuri’s night coordinator and also the founder/coordinator for the Southern Ontario space research and technology festival AND the Southern Ontario Science Fiction festival.

Lord Willing: a radical Christian day planner

Hi there! We are a growing group of community and social activists who are really into advocating nice things like justice, kindness, cooperation, education, equality, and the like. We are people who try to directly effect change by initiating projects and actions. We demonstrate against social injustices through varied ways, such as letter writing and setting up free markets, and are active in maintaining relationships with those in our neighborhoods and communities. Our current project is an attempt to unify activists who identify with the teachings of Jesus and to encourage and foster intentionality and community. We hope to accomplish these by making a day planner that includes features such as an expansive contact/resource list, maps, bits of history, personal reflections, artwork, and a number of other items. Though we are heading up this project, we are working to connect with people who want to contribute their creative endeavors, such as personal devotions, prayers, artwork, songs, etc.

KW Digital Responsibility

My name is Chris Bignell. I’m a teacher in the Waterloo District Region School Board, and I’m a techie. After witnessing a lot of cyber-bullying among teens on social media sites (facebook & twitter), I’d like to start a campaign to encourage them to clean up their posts & tweets.

Essentially, I’d like to run a region wide competition open to all high school students where they create advertisements promoting ethical conduct in social media. What will make this campaign successful is it’s students talking to students–omitting any educational jargon and the feeling that adults are pushing this on teens.

We did a school campaign last year which was very successful, and I’d like your funding to help expand it to all of the high schools in the KW area.

You can see our in-school campaign examples at the following links:

Achieve Progress

Current student at UW in the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship at Technology centre developing a social venture that will have a pilot project launched first here in the Region of Waterloo.

Achieve Progress is a 3rd party verifier that provides ‘eco-logos’ for eco-friendly consumers.

Our technology can show and verify, in real-time, who the most ‘eco-friendly’ consumers in Ontario are by using the smart-grid electricity system and smart meter data. We show our Progress members how their household electricity consumption compares to other households of similar size and similar number of occupants, here in the Region of Waterloo.

Partnering with local retailers and manufacturers of energy efficient appliances, electronics, and other Energy Star rated products, we recognize the efforts of our Progress members by providing exclusive savings and discounts on future purchases of energy efficient products.

The highest discounts are for members with the highest ranking, most improved energy conservation, or for being on a strong team of collaborating, energy-efficient households.

We want the Region of Waterloo to become the most awesome, eco-friendly community… and we can provide the proof to show it!

Latrine Clean Up

Presently Camp Heidelberg rents out the camp grounds to the School Board, Scouts, Girl Guides, etc. Over 16,000 kids pass through our Camping facility. Over the years our plumbing has been able to keep up with large groups without problems. The last big group caused a back flush in our basement near the kids sleeping area. It costs over $1,800 to clean up. Yet this didn’t fix the problem. We need about $20,000 to fix properly, or keep patching the problem, or turn kids away from the experience of camping at a very low costs. If we raise the costs, it would drastically reduce the number of campers over the year. We don’t want to turn away kids. I realize you can’t fund the whole project, yet any amount will help. Once we have enough funds, we will fix the problem. We just hope the patches don’t keep us struggling going uphill without a paddle. Last year, our running events raised almost $4,000. As the Race Director, I hope to raise $6,000 this year.

The Many Faces of Cambridge

At 65
Travel the world celebrating “the arts”
With my childhood sweetheart.
Trying to give a voice
To those forgotten.
Give back.

The goals of the project are to …

  • produce 100 portraits (maybe more) of Cambridge people along with their auto-biographies
  • display them around town in local stores and businesses (one per location)
  • celebrate the many talented citizens of Cambridge through their faces and stories
  • support local artists
  • support local businesses
  • become smarter humans
  • allow people to purchase the portraits
  • have fun by meeting Cambridge citizens
  • support a local charity i.e. The Z Beside the Y

This portrait project innocently began over one year ago and the final presentation of all 100 portraits and stories will be on display at this year’s Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts event held at Cambridge City Hall on Friday June 15 from 6 to 11 p.m.

WorldVUZE – connect, listen, understand

I recently graduated from the Environmental Studies Master’s program at the University of Waterloo and am pursuing my dream of connecting young people around the world to share perspectives and experiences to build understanding, break down stereotypes, and make education more fun.

The journey leading up to this idea started in 2008 when I began working with a colleague, Shadrach Meshach from Tanzania, that I met at a Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit. Since then we’ve been working on local development projects driven by the community ( We have also been connecting schools together through various mediums for over three years (pen pals, Skype, video exchanges) and have found almost all of these methods to be too strenuous to last over the long term.

We are now working in collaboration with the International Institute of Mobile Technologies and UW students to develop an online platform for teachers in many different learning environments to connect their K-12 classrooms to share perspectives and experiences about topics learned in school with a diverse community of students locally and globally.

We have already begun in depth research with schools in Tanzania and in Toronto, Canada and are expanding our market research knowledge in Nepal, India, Northern Ontario, and Waterloo over the next two months. This understanding of the needs of teachers in many different learning environments is what makes us different and what we believe will make us successful in the long run.

Posted in Blog