Last night’s Awesome Newcastle was open to the public and, wow, what a great crowd! This was our first event held in Carrington and also our first event where we collaborated with the Hunter Innovation Festival, (which is on for another week, by the way). The Criterion made us feel loved and important; it was a crisp autumn evening, perfect for being in a new place surrounded by new, cheerful faces.Every Awesome Newcastle has a few guest board members who come, watch and generously donate their money and time to the evening. This month we actually welcomed six guest board members, most of whom were on the board for their very first time. We had an eclectic creative crew for sure!We welcomed Becky Kiil from Newcastle Afoot back as a guest board member, and this was particularly awesome because the last time she was here, she was a winning finalist, back in 2017! First time board members also included Professor Lisa Toohey from Newcastle Law School, Public Speaker and Radio Presenter, Craig Hamilton, Photographer Myf Garvin and Film Director and Editor Adam Khamis. We were also excited to see returning guest board member, James Barr, UX Designer at The Village of Useful.We had finalists speaking on quite a diverse range topics, which generated robust debate and discussion. We welcomed Claire Albrecht from Cuplet Poetry, Leah Fawthorp from the Creative Village Newcastle with her idea “Talking Trash” and Cheryl Pollock from ChezLeon Passive Massage Wear.
Claire went first. She’s a PHD Candidate and published poet. She told us about a successful monthly poetry night, focusing on touring interstate and international acts, held at The Beaumont (Hamilton). She explained how Newcastle has a robust scene of open mic nights and local poetry readings, and Cuplet offers a different opportunity to have touring poets come to us more regularly. She said that the event is currently run on donations, which aren’t always guaranteed. She would use $1000 to guarantee feature poets get paid for the rest of the year.Leah spoke next. She talked about festivals, food trucks and the amount of trash that’s often generated at these events. She was inspired after visiting a festival in New Zealand and seeing how clean events could be, particularly with the assistance of volunteers. She pointed out flaws in many outdoor events’ waste management plans. These could easily be rectified with a bit of a strategy. She wants to create a “Talking Trash” plan to deliver the information to event organisers as a framework for them. She would work with organsiations like Remondis and Feedback Organic to ensure it would happen. She would use the money to create a website and database connecting community groups and volunteers.Then Cheryl took the stage. She’s a cervical cancer survivor, and she’s worked in mechanical engineering and building construction her whole life. Now she’s founding a company with a core focus in the design, manufacture and sale of therapeutic garments to manage edema, particularly secondary Lymphedema due to cancer and its treatment. She told us how Lymphoedema causes severe pain for patients across the world. Chezleon has designed & manufactured a range of massage garments for people suffering from Lymphoedema. She said receipt of this grant would help her to continue on the path to commercialization, ultimately reducing people’s pain and discomfort.The board went outside into the nippy air to discuss their options, and then every one cast a vote.
When you have to choose between health, the environment and the arts, it’s never going to be easy, but at last a decision was reached. We asked Becky to give away the cash. Becky stressed that community is a big priority when it comes to Awesome Newcastle, and then she invited Claire to the stage to take her stash!Our host stressed that applications never expire, so there’s a good chance we could get our finalists back again for another round of Awesome Newcastle. Then we all hung around, drinking, taking photos and discussing the awesomeness of Awesome Newcastle. It was great to experience Awesome Newcastle and the Hunter Innovation Festival simultaneously Thanks to everyone for coming out, and please apply if you’re interested in being on the board or want $1000 for an awesome idea.
Don’t forget to check out the other cool, idea-inducing events happening over the next week in this changing, charming city by the sea.