Soup 1: Utopia (Spring 2013)

Ottawa – thank you for a wonderful reception! Our initial event was a success: a sold out crowd ate Grounded soup at Hub Ottawa and gave a total of $970 to Keep Winthop Beautiful! Below are descriptions for our short-listed projects.

Soup Ottawa #1 | Spring 2013 | Theme: Utopia

Ottawa Hub (71 Bank Street), May 30, 2013, 6:00pm

1. Bibz Youth Employment

Bibz Youth Employment is an initiative started by David Rust-Smith, Bailey Reid, Lida Tohidi, and Nicole Bélanger, and focuses on addressing employment and computer literacy for youth.

The team is hoping to start a social enterprise that will teach youth how to build videogames and websites, and will ultimately pay them to work using these skills. They will also provide youth with the equipment and hardware they need in order to be successful.

The program aims to generate revenue through Bibz Birthday Parties, which are video game themed birthday parties for children. The team has market-tested the concept and has found it to be a potentially lucrative niche. A Bibz Birthday Party would involve a youth and more experienced mentor entertaining kids with video game building activities. This is a great environment for the youth to hone their coding skills, and make some money in the process.

After graduation, the youth will have the option of becoming mentors themselves in order to gain more organizational and managerial skills. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to sell Bibz the video game they built during their time as a mentee, and this will probably represent their first paid software contract.

“We’re passionate about technology and have had the right upbringing, support, and education to make a living with our passion. Some youth have limited access to learn technology and never dream of becoming a programmer or engineer.” Explains David Rust-Smith. “Our program will provide an avenue for youth to learn technology, regardless of their situation.”

2. Keep Winthrop Beautiful

The second of our finalists is a community art project, Keep Winthrop Beautiful. Winthrop Court is an Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhood on Richmond Road, near the intersection of Richmond and Croydon. In an effort to transform their space, they hope to install pieces of art that will inspire the community’s residents as they walk around their neighbourhood.

The first of their proposed installation art pieces will be decorative garbage cans that will serve a couple of purposes. First, they will serve as beautiful AND functional art pieces for the community, and second, they will become a project for the Youth Groups and Homework club of the community and will help bring Winthrop’s youth together.

The second project they hope to undertake is the installation of signs around the community. These signs will act as a signature of the community and carry inspirational and informative messages, making Winthrop an art gallery of sorts.

The final piece of art the community hopes to install is a Sun Dial to add aesthetic appeal to the soon to be renovated basketball court area. Once again, the project will serve to bring the community together as they participate in the installation of the art project.

“These projects are designed to increase residents’ appreciation and ownership of the neighbourhood” explains  Faduma Yusuf, Community House Assistant. “Beautification projects [of the community] will help fulfill the Utopia that our community envisions.”

3. My Garment – A Discovery Game

Our third selected finalist is My Garment, a project started by Maureen Dickson, Carlotta Cataldi, Stephanie Peterka, and Crystal Hodges of Slow Fashion Forward. Slow Fashion is a vision for the fashion and textile industry that is based on ecological integrity and social equality. Slow Fashion Forward is an international consultancy that is based on these principles and they host workshops to educate fashion designers, students and consumers about sustainable fashion. Using interactive games and social technologies, these workshops effectively facilitate learning in this area. My Garment, a Discovery Game is just one of these educational games that Slow Fashion Forward would like to make available to educators world wide, so that they can share knowledge on sustainability in fashion with their students.

My Garment is an interactive game that is targeted at high school, college and university students and teaches them about the effects of  the globalized fashion industry in a simple and engaging way. Ultimately the students will discover the ecological and social impacts of a typical garment at each stage of the garment’s life cycle, and will co-create solutions to the sustainability challenges in the fashion industry.

“Our ‘Utopia’ is one where the fashion industry coexists in harmony with ecological systems, satisfies our fundamental human needs, and provides benefits to communities and society at large” remarks Maureen Dickson. “To make this a reality, future fashion designers, business leaders and consumers need to first be educated about the ecological and social challenges in the fashion industry before they can re-design systems and create sustainable garments, brands and communities.”

4. Attawapiskat Storytelling

Did you know that the development of two open-pit chromium (a highly toxic metal) mines in Ontario have been proposed by by a variety of corporations, and that these two mines would require 350 km of road, which would cross two rivers, fragment natural habitat, and threaten the health of the river and of the communities downstream? Neither did we until we read the project proposal for Attawapiskat Storytelling, our fourth selected presentation finalist.

On top of the environmental destruction caused by building the roads for the mines, the mining and processing of chromium would potentially expose the public to a carcinogenic and acutely toxic form of the metal that is highly soluble and can easily move into living tissues. The mining process will involve blasting, moving, crushing and processing millions of tonnes of chromite ore, so the risks of contaminating the surrounding area are high.

Although the First Nations have taken Canada to court to insist on a more stringent assessment by a panel of judges jointly mandated by the province, the federal government, and the first nations, to date, there has been no progress. Consequently, Janice Ashworth, Karen Miller, Ramsey Hart and Jennie Kellar feel that, although the First Nations may have the greatest stake in what happens in this area, all Ontarians should be aware of the significance of what is happening with these mines. Prompted by their desire to share the story of Attawapiskat, the team will be paddling the river in July and creating a documentary along the way, in order to raise awareness of this issue. As such, they are in need of some funding in order to procure the necessary equipment for the project.

5. Sprouts at the Table

Sprouts at the Table, the fifth project finalist presenting on Thursday, is a sort of mini Good Food Box (GFB) project, proposed by Janet Man, Natasha Beaudin and Julie Sell. The project proposes to purchase regional or heritage food seeds to disperse during Good Food Harvest days, promo-events and GFB days.

The team is trying to tackle food insecurity issues as well as trying to break down barriers to healthy, affordable food. Their solution, encouraging food security while promoting urban agriculture, is not complex: anyone who has water and a patch of good soil can grow seeds into sprouts.

This simple solution, in the form of a small envelope of seeds, would provide many benefits to participants: Improve their health, increase their vegetable intake, promote urban agriculture, and increase accessibility to edible gardens. The team’s goal is to get people to swap garden produce, gardening knowledge, and seeds, to hold community meal-meet ups and more. To put it simply, they want to start a “Food not Lawns” chain reaction.

As Janet Man puts it, “our idea aims to grow a better, healthier population and a greener, more vibrant world.”

6. Oh!mega Meal Boost

The sixth, and final project finalist to present at the first Soup Ottawa event is Vivian Sollows, with her project, Oh!mega Meal Boost. Vivian is the legally blind mother of three, and her youngest son has significant health issues. Due to a lack of muscle tone in his face and neck, he is unable to chew, and consequently can’t enjoy the same healthy snacks as his siblings. And that is why Vivian created OH!mega Meal Boost, a nutritionaly rich mixture of ground up nuts and seeds that can be used as a replacement for flower in baking, mixed into stirfrys and sauteed veggies, or added to smoothies and even to desserts and yogurt. It not only adds great taste, it’s also healthy – the perfect combination!

“In my perfect world, I would be able to successfully sell it [Oh!mega Meal Boost] easily, making lots of people happy and healthier” says Vivian, “what a dream it would be, beating the big guys.”

Event Gallery