The passionate people in Newcastle are not holding back bright ideas, last night’s Awesome Newcastle demonstrated. Givers and gatherers grouped together at The Edwards swanky new Front Bar, where an eclectic cluster of Novocastrians bustled and buzzed discussing innovative ways to make Newcastle better with the generous monthly grant of $1,000 cold hard cash.
The first candidate of the hour was Elena Terol, a candidate who has now presented twice for Awesome Newcastle. Originally from Spain, Terol has been running a Spanish play group through the nonprofit Playgroup NSW. The group provides an opportunity for children to learn a bit of Spanish and get to know other children and families who have a connection to Spanish culture. Terol proposed using the money to buy children’s books in Spanish, as local libraries don’t have many. This library of Spanish books could be a major asset to helping kids learn a language.
Our next candidate was artist and photographer Dylan Smyth. Smyth has already created several photo books and exhibitions documenting Newcastle. His current project is called THE SUBURBAN PROJECT, where he’s photographed the diversity and individuality of domestic architecture throughout the greater city of Newcastle. Smyth proposed using the cash to present the photos together in a special book edition with a unique set of prints.
Our final candidate of the evening was midwife and nurse Donovan Jones. Founder of the website Mindfulness for Dads, Jones passionately explained how his project explores the benefits of a mindfulness intervention for men with pregnant partners. He hopes to trial an online mindfulness intervention for soon-to-be fathers, where these men can have training and support in learning mindful-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques. His plan is to use the money for website expenses, continued upgrades, advertising and development.
We then left the board members to deliberate while we all waited. The candidates bit their nails, and the rest of us speculated.
And then, as the sun began to set over Newcastle, Donovan Jones was announced as the first winner of Awesome Newcastle in 2017. Congratulations Donovan! We can’t wait to find out what this grant will bring to your initiative.