Wednesday, 27 July 2011

How to Plan a 90 Second Pitch

Summarizing an idea down to 90 seconds is not as easy as it seems.  Google is the best for questions like "How many words in a 90 second speech", but we still really had a hard time narrowing it down.  However, the Calgary Awesome Foundation asks you four major questions: 1) what is your idea? 2) who does it benefit? 3) When and how will it be completed? and 4) how will you use the $1000?

We used index cards to help us narrow down our scope.  Some of them only have one or idea, but they really helped us condense.

Question 1:  What is your idea?

Question 2: Who benefits? 

Question 3:  When will it occur and how will you complete the project?

Question 4:  The obvious question.  We think we'll solve this part of the pitch with a  pie chart.

After deleting some unnecessary thoughts, and moving things around, we were able to organize our thoughts as you see below.  90 seconds is brief!  So we had to be as prepared as possible.

We'll leave it here for now, and we'll show you the final outcome in the next post.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

How to Write a Proposal

So this is a bit of a retrospective post in two parts.  Our Awesome Calgary Foundation proposal was selected as one of the top four finalists for Thousand Dollar Thursday!  We wanted to share with you the proposal we submitted.  Vlad made all the renderings and graphics, which was so helpful!  Collaborating with someone with drawing and Photoshop skills is the best!

Calgary’s Illuminated Landscapes

Our project’s goal is to invite Calgarians to illuminate overlooked city spaces using LED lights to create new and inviting landscapes.  

Calgary’s urban parks attract plenty of people to both wild and manicured spaces during the day.  However, when evening arrives, some of these locations may be overlooked due to their dense and dark nature.  Imagine changing these spaces by creating welcoming and magical landscapes in these environments at night.  Our goal is to invite Calgarians to illuminate these forgotten locations using several hundred LED lights to create a collaborative and temporary light installation. 

The first installation will take place during the Choose Yer Own Festival on Friday, August 12th 2011.  This is a free collaborative festival, where each participant determines their level of involvement in all the happenings that take place through the festival’s four day span.  As part of this free festival, our LED project is an invitation to anyone in our city who has ever wanted to take part in a secret adventure.  The location for this project has been determined, but has been requested to remain a secret until closer to the festival date.  However, all those who stumble upon this nocturnal event will be encouraged to participate by collaboratively creating a landscaped filled with LED fireflies in an overlooked corner of Calgary’s downtown park system. 

Imagine going for an evening stroll, and noticing some activity in an area that is usually dark and unvisited in the night hours.  You notice this area is filled with lights: some flashing, some in mason jars, and others appearing to hang in midair.  As you approach, you see an inviting sign:  “Good Evening! Grab an LED, a battery and help us build fireflies”.  You’re invited to join in on the action. 

We will facilitate this experience by providing visitors with a simple starting point: space to create and materials (LED lights, button cell batteries, mason jars, wire, string, etc).  In this redefined space, people can create, watch the installation’s progress, or simply relax and hang out.  We will welcome folks into this space for a few hours, after which we will start to take down this light installation and leave no trace behind of our evening adventure.  We hope you will come along for this adventure and help us turn forgotten city spaces into whimsical memories.    

The first installation for this project has been approved by the Choose Yer Own Festival; thus if need be, we are planning to execute this project on a smaller scale using our own personal funding.  We would purchase 200 non-blinking LEDs ($0.30*200) = $60.00; 50 blinking LEDs ($0.70*50) = $35.00; 250 button cell batteries ($0.25*250) = $62.50; miscellaneous supplies (electrical tape, twist ties, floral wire, and string):  $42.50. 
Total:  $200.00 

However, with the Awesome Foundation’s help we can obtain a greater number of materials, tools and gadgets to create the most ideal facilitation scenario for this installation.  Also, the lifespan of these supplies would allow us to repeat LED projects multiple times in our city.  We intend to allocate the Calgary Awesome Foundation’s funds as follow:
700 non-blinking LEDs ($0.30*700 units) = $210.00; 300 blinking LEDs ($0.70*300 units) = $210.00; 2000 button cell batteries ($0.25*2000) = $500.00; Soldering iron = $50.00; Electrical tape = $10.00; Twist ties = $10.00; Mason jars = $20.00; Floral Wire = $50.00; String = $30.00; Solder = $10.00; Conductive epoxy= $30.00; Miscellaneous = $70.00. 
Total:  $1000.00

We will pitch to the board of trustees and a public audience at the Calgary Drop-In Centre on Thursday, July 28th 2011.  We will present along with three other finalists, and we will each have 90 seconds to pitch our idea.  Wish us luck!  

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

How to Try Things Out

Today we went over to MRO Electronics to buy some sample parts that we needed to source out.  LED lights are not all the same.  There are actually tons of different colours, of different intensities, some with micro-chips and they are powered at a variety of voltages.  We bought a couple different colours and types to test.  Our goal is to have enough materials on hand for anyone to put together a couple of LED lights and batteries and place them within the space to simulate the presence of fireflies.  It may be tough to replicate, but here are some really inspiring images:

Image by Judd Patterson

Image by Steven David Johson

Image by Tom Arthur 

Source Unknown
We tested the following series of LED lights.  We were surprised by variation in colour and intensity (surprisingly, there are like several different types of blue, green, yellow and amber).

Testing for colour and intensity.
After some testing we've decided on diffused green and amber LED lights.  We hope they produce the visual results we're visually looking for on site.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


Updates!  We're set to go for Choose Yer Own!  On Friday, we met with two of the Choose Yer Own event coordinators, Dana Schloss and Laura Lief to go over logistics.  Organizational win!  We want to have enough materials for anyone to join in, so we're planning to apply for an Awesome Foundation Calgary micro-fund to get hundreds of blinking and non-blinking LED lights, 3 volt button cell batteries and lots of mason jars.  We will see how it goes!