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.

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