A view from GS 1221 at 1221 Broadway St. Courtesy photo.

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Awesome San Antonio, the local chapter of the Awesome Foundation, has selected four finalists for its $1,000 grant for the month of August. A winner will be announced during an informal ceremony Thursday at GS 1221, 1221 Broadway St., starting at 6 p.m. This month’s party is sponsored in part by San Antonio Beer Week.

Every month since October 2011 Awesome SA has awarded the grant to individuals and/or organizations with ideas that simply make San Antonio more awesome. Applications can be filled out online. Below are the four finalist applications in their own words, aside from minor style editing.

Solstice Organic Market by Shannon Kossaeth

A little about me:

Sweet Yams at 218 N. Cherry St Courtesy photo.
Sweet Yams at 218 N. Cherry St Courtesy photo.

Greetings; We are Sweet Yams, San Antonio’s first organic take out restaurant and organic juice program. Our mission is to provide affordable fresh organic food and nutrient understanding to San Antonio and the world. Our present focus is on the Eastside and Downtown areas, which are presently food deserts, but are quickly becoming the center for organic understanding. We are committed team dedicated to the connective frequency of love and the rejuvenation of body for spirit.

Here’s my idea:

The “awesomeness” started two weeks ago with the beginning of construction for the Eastside’s first organic market! The first phase is just a small, 300-square-foot slice of love right off the side porch at Sweet Yams on 218 N. Cherry St. Our plan is to first provide what we call the “organic rejuvenation essentials” to the Eastside and downtown areas.

Affordable organic proteins, nuts, rice, beans, pastas, produce, vegetables, fruits, eggs, cheeses, milk,water, and much more, including some of your favorite desserts and home made organic ice creams. Sweet Yams will be moving to a new location at Montana and Cherry Streets on January 2015, at which time we will be combining the entire 1,000 square foot property at 218 N. Cherry and expanding the building into what is to be Solstice Organic Markets.

This organic market concept will be unique and uncompromising. Our goal is 100 percent affordable organic or nothing. Our relationships with local organic farms and producers as well as the Eastside’s future of urban organic farming will give us the opportunity to consistently provide quality product that is free from contamination both by pesticides and profit-motivated price manipulators. The market will most importantly be the home for our awesomely successful juice program, our “crown jewel.” We plan to use part of the profits from our organic restaurants and markets to activate what we call Solstice Free-habilitation, free juice programs for those who cant afford the commitment to change. This is just a glimpse of the potential we believe this market has to bring light and access to many lives on the eastside and all of SA. The foundation of this market is not based on just a cool idea or current trend. It is built on 20 years of research and experience, and 10 years of proof and confirmation. We are committed to the needs of the people, and we don’t compromise. We love you.

How I will use the money:

The awesome $1000 will be used to stock and market the first phase of Solstice organic markets. Check this slogan out: Solstice Organic Market Eastside: “Come get Some.

How will this make San Antonio more awesome?

Eating better, understanding what you eat better, and having access to better eating make everything awesome!

Will the public be able to participate in this project or event?

This is the public’s baby; we inspire all to not only participate in this event, but to use the venue for your community project or event.

The San Antonio Fruit Tree Project by Mary Minor

San Antonio Fruit Tree Project logo. Courtesy image.
San Antonio Fruit Tree Project logo. Courtesy image.

A little about me:

I earned a B.A. in philosophy from Trinity University in 2000 and will receive a master’s of architecture at UTSA in 2015 with certificates in historic preservation and regional/urban planning. I work as a graduate assistant, have contracted for the City’s Operation Facelift program and the King William Association, and I’m the College of Architecture’s representative to the UTSA Graduate Council. My community service focuses on coaching for Girls on the Run and The San Antonio Fruit Tree Project.

Here’s my idea:

The San Antonio Fruit Tree Project is an urban fruit tree harvest program. We aim to harvest unwanted fruit from neighborhood trees, and donate it to food pantries that are in need. Our goal is to help with the critical and growing need for access to fresh local organic fruit. These trees are mature and producing an abundant amount of fruit right in our yards! The location of many of these trees is significant in their contribution to our cultural landscape. The majority of the cataloged and mapped trees are located in neighborhoods that have a history rooted in agriculture. These trees link us to the past and are symbols of a time when food was produced locally. They signify that our city has a long history with growing food and that we were once sustainable in food production. We can learn from our ancestors and become a city where all people have access to locally grown fresh food. Our project revolves around a simple fundamental value: no good fruit should go to waste.

How I will use the money:

The funds from this grant will aid in purchases of harvesting equipment and harvest announcement materials.

How will this make San Antonio more awesome?

Our project will cultivate community and increase access to fresh fruits for many in San Antonio. The San Antonio Fruit Tree Project advocates for urban agriculture as well, which aids San Antonio’s quest to be a more sustainable city. We are also proponents of food equity, which is integral to awesomeness.

Will the public be able to participate in this project or event?

The volunteer needs for this project are abundant. The San Antonio Fruit Tree Project will be sustainable only with the support of San Antonio citizens. Members of the community are encouraged to volunteer for harvesting, planting fruit trees, picking fruit, and spreading the joy that urban agriculture can bring to a neighborhood through new relationships.

Roots in the Shadows of San Antonio by Noah Peterson

A little about me:

I moved to the Southside of San Antonio in 2012 from Portland, Oregon. I am primarily a saxophonist and perform a wide range of genres, produce recordings, and all that other fun music stuff. I love the music business and helping out bands. My label serves as a stepping stone for bands who are serious about their careers, but need some help. I think the “Roots” project is a beautiful thing to get involved with because it helps so many, and the music is great; it’s San Antonio’s rock and roll.

Here’s my idea:

This project’s intent is to bring attention to a community of bands who are committed and loyal to writing and performing original music in San Antonio. We want to progress their artistic message as well as the rich music culture that has always been a part of San Antonio. Phillip Luna (Even I Have Seizures) and Jason Treviño (ROHI Records) have produced the first free “Roots in the Shadows of San Antonio” compilation CD. That recording features thirteen San Antonio bands who have been rocking the stages of Central Texas for 25 years.

During the summer of 2013 on Sundays at sundown, Jason and Phillip presented a different “Roots” artist each week. Every performance was at a unique location with the intent to raise funds for production. These included the Hays St. Bridge, Dignowity Park, Cruz Ortiz‘s art studio, Imagine Bookstore, and The Circle School. Beer and food were donated and the artists performed intimate sets that included stories of their experiences in the San Antonio music community and songs they had written here. Using these events as fundraisers, we were able to produce 500 physical CD’s and mail 125 of them to college radio stations across the country. Our events were featured in the San Antonio Current and on local radio stations throughout the summer. The recording as a whole and individual tracks are available for free download on our website, which includes band profiles and links. Over 300 physical copies have been given away to fans and supporters. Our artist collective serves to curate, produce, and promote these events and recordings for the betterment of the independent music community of Central Texas, the participating artists, and their fans, and to make known the modern music and culture of the San Antonio to as broad an audience as possible.

We’re doing it again. “Roots II” planning is well under way and we’re better organized, thinking further out, we have a higher goal, and we did a fantastic job with the first one.

Roots in the Shadows of San Antonio sleeve. Courtesy image.
Roots in the Shadows of San Antonio sleeve. Courtesy image.

How I will use the money:

Should Awesome SA be so awesome as to bestow us with that honor, half will go towards the mailing budget for the physical CD’s and the rest to help pay for event permits from the city and any other event costs.

Why physical jewel cased CDs? Because that’s what radio stations want. Most stations will not accept digital files, and jewel cases fit in their racks. The best way to get airplay is to make it as easy as possible for the DJ’s. We know this and that’s our ONLY reason for CD’s.

How will this make San Antonio more awesome?

Most of the artists come from either the downtown San Antonio area or nearby neighborhoods. These are artists who feed their families with their music; art literally is life. It’s not just what we do, it’s how we survive. It is our cultural contribution. What’s special about this project is the various communities coming together to do something bigger than any individual could achieve on their own. Nobody else in San Antonio is doing this, and it’s not just about making music and trying to bring some attention to the rock scene of San Antonio. This project is a historical documentation of the bands and players and composers of the San Antonio rock scene. We give it away for free to as many people as we can with physical copies and digital files.

The communities these artists come from are the real benefactors. It’s the people who live with and around them. We give them places to go, places to dance, songs to sing. We are their spouses, their parents, their children. The artists benefit from a larger audience and some additional attention from the media. It’s good for the business nearby our events when we draw a crowd of people to see our free shows. It’s good for the neighborhoods to have all the neighbors coming out for music and jointly helping out of their own from the neighborhood reach a little higher and further. It’s good for the bands to get on the radio and talk about their music, their lives, and how they are related. It’s good for the radio to play music from the community, and this community is all parts of the city: North, South, East, West, downtown and the outskirts. The city itself benefits, as this is modern, local culture organizing, developing, and promoting its own star to add to the many reasons to come and visit San Antonio. The music of San Antonio has been all but eclipsed by the Austin musical mystique. “Roots in the Shadows of San Antonio” is the first step in showing the world there’s more to music in Texas than Austin. We’ve already had airplay in London, Boston, Portland, Santa Barbara, and our own hometown of San Antonio.

Will the public be able to participate in this project or event?

Yes! The public is necessary for this event. We do it in their neighborhoods, their parks, their public places. The music is given away free to them and we ask them for donations to help with production costs. They get to listen for years and our bands are all from the people of San Antonio. Without the public, our project doesn’t exist.

Traveling Trunks for Seniors by Sue Yip

A little about me:

Merced provides what most of us take for granted: good homes. Many low-income families pay so much of their income for housing that they sacrifice other necessities, like education and proper medical care. We develop and own quality, affordable apartment homes for 1,650 low-income families, but we go much further in supporting our residents’ lives. We offer social services and programs focusing on the education, employment, health and financial literacy of our residents, at no cost to them.

Residents of Merced Housing. Courtesy image.
Residents of Merced Housing. Courtesy image.

Here’s my idea:

We told you about our Traveling Trunks for Seniors Program earlier, and we want to reacquaint you with it this month. We still think it’s awesome and we still need support for it. At the heart of our Resident Services Program are afterschool and summer programs for kids in our apartment communities. They especially love our very own Traveling Trunks Program. We’ve created six trunks filled with books, games and activities to keep young minds active and enriched. Each trunk has a theme, such as space,dinosaurs, geography and culture, and the human body. Through these trunks, children have so much fun that they hardly realize they’re learning.

We also provide supportive services for many low-income senior residents—354 senior households and counting. We’re developing another beautiful apartment community for very low-income seniors at Commerce and Olive Streets on San Antonio’s Eastside. We know through experience that our seniors have needs that are unique to their age group. Like all of us, they need exercise to stay healthy. But their exercise needs to be tailored for their abilities. Many seniors tend to stay in their apartment homes unless they have a compelling reason to venture out and socialize. They need enjoyable mental stimulation: engaging ways to use their creativity and keep their memory sharp. They need ways to honor and share their lifetimes of experience and feel valued in the present. We’ve had real success so far in offering activities such as “Sit and Be Fit,” line dancing, and a painting class in collaboration with Bihl Haus Arts. We want to do so much more to help our seniorslive healthy, active, fulfilled lives.

What about developing Traveling Trunks created especially for our senior residents? That’s our goal, and we hope that you will help us get there. We can create trunks that exercise seniors’ minds and bodies, enrich their lives, and entice them to come out and share new experiences with their neighbors.

How I will use the money:

We’re fortunate to have an intern through the Public Allies Program who is creating Traveling Trunks for Seniors. However, we still need funds to buy and stock the trunks. One thousand dollars for trunks and the materials to stock them can go far in helping us produce the trunks for seniors. Even better, the impact of your grant will be doubled, thanks to a challenge grant from The Carl C. Anderson Sr. and Marie Jo Anderson Foundation.

How will this make San Antonio more awesome?

It is said that we can measure the quality of a community by the way it nurtures its most vulnerable members. How successful is the San Antonio community at doing this? What does Merced do to help care for our most vulnerable San Antonio residents? We provide high quality, affordable homes for thousands of low-income San Antonio families and seniors. That’s a great accomplishment in itself. Offering these residents a wide range of needed services and programs means we surround them with a safety net of support, contribute to their stability, and help them pursue their personal goals. That’s comprehensive care: just what our city needs to provide for its residents in need. Our low-income seniors are some of our San Antonio community’s most vulnerable yet most valuable members. When we uplift their lives, we uplift the entire San Antonio community and contribute to its success.

Will the public be able to participate in this project or event?

Yes. We can use volunteers to facilitate trunks activities.

*Featured/top image: A view from GS 1221 at 1221 Broadway St. Courtesy photo.

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Rivard Report Staff

Rivard Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the Rivard Report staff.