Contributed/Awesome Ottawa Awesome Ottawa's Dwayne Litzenberger hands over a $1,000 cheque to Clare Hutchinson and the University of Ottawa Quidditch team.

If you’ve noticed Ottawa becoming more awesome, you may have seen the work of Awesome Ottawa, a group handing out $1,000 awards every month to projects they think are making the city more fun.

A reading garden along the canal, a plan to harness the power of Ottawa’s fruit trees and an outdoor lunch-time dance party on Spark Street for busy workers this August are just a few of the projects they’re backing.

“Everywhere needs to be made more awesome,” said Avi Caplan, one of the group’s founders and a Science and Technology Policy Manager at Environment Canada. “We’re just 10 people who get together every month and each give $100. We get about 15 applications a month and there are no strings attached to the money. We trust people to do what they say.”

Started in Boston in 2009, the Awesome Foundation has brought the idea to cities around the world with Awesome chapters cropping up everywhere from Mongolia and Israel to Halifax, Newmarket, Toronto and Montreal.

“We want to do something good for the world,” said Caplan. “But on the other side, we want to have a flame throwing robot. We want people to know that with a little bit of money you can do something fun that makes Ottawa a better place.”

The funding model the group uses is not only making cities culturally richer, but changing the way philanthropy works, Caplan said.

“It’s individuals supporting other individuals,” he said. “Maybe some day in the future everybody may do something like this.”

The Dance Dance (Office) Revolution Lunchtime Dance Party is set to get people moving in the Sparks Street mall August 23rd in front of CBC building.

One wacky idea the group didn’t fund:

A local man found a $1,000 Yeti costume online and wanted to buy it so he could hide in the bushes along the roads of Gatineau Park at night. His idea was to jump out in front of passing cars to scare the drivers and passengers.

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