Awesome SA celebrated its 10th anniversary this Thursday during its $1,000 grant award ceremony at Boneshakers from 6-8:30 p.m. at 306 Austin St. The group is made up of 10 trustees, who each donate $100 to the monthly grant, have selected three finalist out of several applicants – some new to the Awesome SA process, and some returning for another chance at funding.

Last night’s winner was Edward Garcia III of  SATX Pedal Power, the man behind those fun, weekly bike-powered movie nights in Main Plaza. [Read More: “SATX Pedal Power Cycle-In Cinema Blazes New Trails in Alamo City.“]

“The first thing the money will be spent on is purchasing bicycle blenders (make-shift contraptions that allow bikes/peddlers to generate power directly to blenders). I plan to showcase them at POPO’s We-Cycle’s changing gears event. The goal for this is to be able to take them to after school programs and teach kids about staying active and eating healthy by them pedaling and blending their own smoothies,” Garcia wrote in an email about his plans. “I hope to create enough buzz and interest in Pedal Power to have a successful Kickstarter to then reach the dream of  hosting events which will be completely pedal-powered.”

Edward Garcia holds up his $1,000 Awesome SA grant certificate for a photo with Awesome SA board and trustees. Courtesy photo.
Edward Garcia holds up his $1,000 Awesome SA grant certificate for a photo with Awesome SA board and trustees. Courtesy photo.

Garcia said he was cool, calm and collected the entire day before the award ceremony, but once he stepped foot into Boneshakers, the anticipation caught up with him.

“My heart was racing, it felt as if I was getting judged by Gordon Ramsey and waiting to see if I had what it took to be a ‘TOP CHEF,’” describes Garcia. “I’m so ecstatic I can be part of the Awesome SA grant recipients. SATX Pedal Power was just a small random idea I had, so to see it come to life and feel all the love and support from friends, family and cyclists is absolutely amazing.”

(Read Garcia’s and the other two awesome grant applications below.)

As of Thursday, a total of $10,000 has been spread throughout the “idea” community. From a giant paleta bike-racks to mini park libraries to solar food trucks to photography projects, Awesome SA has loose qualifications, just: “Make San Antonio a more awesome place.” [Read our past coverage by clicking here. The Rivard Report is a sponsor/trustee of Awesome SA.]

There’s no cover charge to attend, but curious bystanders will need to register for Awesome SA events via its Eventbrite page. Awesome SA revelers packed Boneshakers and The Richter Co. for the announcement of  July’s winner, wabiStory, a digital storytelling mobile application.

Boneshakers located at 306 Austin Street, right next to the west entrance to the Hays Street Bridge, just west of I-37/HWY 281. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Boneshakers located at 306 Austin Street, right next to the west entrance to the Hays Street Bridge, just west of I-37/HWY 281. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The following are August’s awesome finalists, as described in their own words during the application process (though light formatting and grammatical editing has been applied).

San Anto’s Longest Mural: VORTEX

A little about me:

San Anto Cultural Arts has served the San Antonio community for 20 years. Today, we are working on our 45 large-scale mural and we recently published our 191st issue of the El Placazo Community Newspaper!

We operate with four main priorities:

  1. Youth empowerment
  2. Community engagement
  3. Promotion of local art/artists and preservation of local culture
  4. Reduction of urban blight

Our mission is to foster human and community development through community-based arts.

Here’s my idea:

The work has already begun. Courtesy photo.
Work on the mural has already begun. Courtesy photo.

Through collaboration with Public Art San Antonio, the City’s Graffiti Abatement Office and Public Works, the Blue Star MOSAIC program, Martinez Street Women’s Center, the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association, and Eastside residents, San Anto Cultural Arts is installing its longest mural to date – and probably the longest mural in San Antonio!

With Alex Rubio as the lead artist, the mural, entitled “Vortex” will span 118 feet in length. Installed on a stretch of wall alongside Nolan Street at the Union Pacific Railroad underpass, this dynamic mural will bring a form of abstract expression to the east side, an area that is welcoming public art with open arms.

Supported by Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, and District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, the mural is set to be unveiled on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 11 a.m.

An example of true collaboration, “Vortex” will be a permanent reminder of what a community can accomplish if they come together for a common cause.

How I will use the money:

The “Vortex” mural was initiated by a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, funding which requires a $1:$1 match. So far, we’ve received $3,025 from City Council Project Funds which leaves a balance of $6,975 to be funded.

We would apply the Awesome Foundation grant to this balance in order to help us complete our match requirement.

We are in the final stages of installation and would love to finish off the project with the support of the Awesome Foundation!

How will this benefit San Antonio as a whole?

The mural team from San Anto Cultural Arts. Courtesy photo.
The mural team from San Anto Cultural Arts. Courtesy photo.

This project will be spreading the impact of the San Anto Cultural Arts murals to the east side of San Antonio. Our mural process begins and ends with community meetings so as to engage local residents in the creation of the art to be installed. This also helps us to be relevant in our imagery and a true reflection of the area that hosts the mural.

Our collaboration with city organizations, other nonprofits, local youth and residents is a shining example of a tight-knit community. “Vortex” will be a permanent reflection of the innovative local art scene as well as a reminder of the hard work put in by all involved!

San Anto Cultural Arts’ murals draw tourists from around the world. “Vortex” is the first mural in an effort to expand the reach of our public art and our community-building process, an effort that is also expected to result in increased tourism in other areas of the city.

How did you hear about Awesome SA?

You are making an awesome impact throughout San Antonio! We heard about your grant making through local media as well as through our partnerships!

SATX Pedal Power, Edward Garcia

A little about me:

I graduated from Lanier and joined the Marine Corps. After the Corps I studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. While working at the Waldorf Astoria, a friend asked me to help rejuvenate a nonprofit coffee shop. The Guadalupe Street Coffee Shop brought me home. The nonprofit offered me a position to stay on permanently as their executive chef & developed a program for at-risk youth to volunteer at the coffee shop. I helped organize BiciCocina to teach local children bicycle safety and maintenance.

Here’s my idea:

A cyclist powers the SATX Pedal Power projector at dusk in Main Plaza on a recent Thursday night. Photo courtesy SATX Pedal Power.
A cyclist powers the SATX Pedal Power projector at dusk in Main Plaza on a recent Thursday night. Photo courtesy SATX Pedal Power / Edward Garcia.

SATX Pedal Power is using the renewable resource of pedaling to start a revolution. Without going too deep into the physics of it all, you pedal and AWESOME things happen! We are looking to change the norm of finding the closest electrical outlet or going for the gas can to make things work.

Our project takes a bicycle, a generator bike stand and YOU to turn pedaling into power! You pedal, you power something. Our goal is to encourage local San Antonians to venture out of their homes via bicycle or walking and enjoy the beautiful downtown skyline. How better to entice them out than to offer them an evening of movies? But with a twist: An outdoor movie venue powered (in part) by a bicycle generator and the viewers are doing the pedaling.

We would also like to reach out to underprivileged communities and offer movie screenings at local schools or any underutilized local green spaces. The possibilities are endless with what can be powered. With our current system, we can supply most of the power needed to project a movie on a large screen. With more generators we could utilize several cyclists to generate energy, with which to power an entire venue.  Our goals are to have events that are fully sustained by pedal power.

Our past two showings people have been so excited to sign up to pedal the generator. Our events help to bring together the community and give them a sense of camaraderie amongst each other, a sense of contribution to the cause. We can take this as far as we dream, but we need to get the word out about this awesome project we are kicking off.  We have had (several) showings already, with the attendance doubling from one week to the next. We are currently running movies every Thursday at the Main Plaza.

[Read More “SATX Pedal Power Cycle-In Cinema Blazes New Trails in Alamo City.“]

How I will use the money:

We own 1 projector/1 bike gen./1 battery pack/1 screen. The more generators we have, the higher the electrical charge we put in the battery pack & currently that is our focus. The cost of each gen. is about $375. A large portable screen costs thousands of dollars and we have found that renting one is more cost effective. We also have to pay the royalties for each movie that we show with costs ranging from $175-$300. With the Awesome SA grant we would purchase two more generators & the rest to pay for movie royalties.

Is your project a start up business?

No it is not a business and we are not looking for this project to make any money for us. We just want to bring solutions to worldly problems in a fun way.

How will this benefit San Antonio as a whole?

Edward Garcia, founder of SATX Pedal Power, and Ashley Quinn, Main Plaza Conservancy programs manager, teamed up to host Cycle-In Cinema every Thursday night in Main Plaza. Photo courtesy Main Plaza conservancy / Ashley Quinn.
Edward Garcia, founder of SATX Pedal Power, and Ashley Quinn, Main Plaza Conservancy programs manager, teamed up to host Cycle-In Cinema every Thursday night in Main Plaza. Photo courtesy Main Plaza conservancy / Ashley Quinn.

Who doesn’t love free movie? We want to let people know the power of bicycles.

How did you hear about Awesome SA?

PoPo’s We-cycle!

“Each One Teach One” Adult Literacy Program, Carolyn Heath

A little about me:

I have worked in the non-profit sector for over 30 years, including 12 in San Antonio. I have worked for many programs, including housing, health, family and senior services, and most recently adult literacy. I am from Chicago, Illinois with bachelors and masters degrees from Northwestern University. I founded Each One Teach One in 2004 while the executive director of a faith-based nonprofit on San Antonio’s east side. I believe that education is freedom and levels life’s playing field!

Here’s my idea:

Imagine existing as an adult in 21st century America concealing a horrible secret – being unable to read, write or compute above a fifth grade level, which is required to perform most daily activities. This secret affects over 450,000

Carolyn Heath, executive director of Each One Teach Once literacy program.
Carolyn Heath, executive director of Each One Teach Once literacy program.

people right here in San Antonio! We all encounter low level adult learners every day – on the job, in our neighborhoods, and at places where we do business. But they are very adept at keeping their secret because they are embarrassed, ashamed and fearful for their livelihoods.

So how is it that an adult doesn’t learn to read, and why should we care? The causes for illiteracy are numerous and complex: pressure from family to leave school for work, a disruptive home environment, poor educational opportunities growing up, criminal involvement, and early marriages/pregnancies to name a few. Illiteracy costs all of us in terms of attracting good jobs, crime, health care, social services, drop out rates, and other socio-enonomic issues.

The Each One Teach One Adult and Family Literacy Program of San Antonio (EOTOSA) is the only non-profit offering services to low level adult learners. EOTOSA provides one on one tutoring to adults who: 1) perform below 8th grade level academically, or 2) are studying to pass the GED exam. This in a city where one in four adults read below 5th grade level! San Antonio ranks 7th in the U.S. in population, but 60th in literacy. It has the second highest illiteracy level among adults in the state, behind El Paso.

Our program works by using dedicated volunteers from all walks of life to serve as tutors. Tutoring sessions are a minimum of 2 hours. EOTOSA’s staff of 3 recruits and trains volunteers, enrolls and assesses students, and prepares customized lesson plans for each session. We serve over 200 students at four locations in the city. More than 100 people currently serve as tutors.

We provide the resources, support and dignity adult learners need to improve their lives!

How I will use the money:

We will purchase curriculum materials for the new 2014 GED test . We will buy workbooks for beginning readers. We will purchase bus passes for students experiencing financial hardship to attend sessions regularly.

Furthermore, we have been awarded a “challenge grant” by the Full Force Foundation, based in San Antonio. For every dollar raised, the Foundation will match it, up to $25,000! So a gift to EOTOSA will be highly leveraged both with volunteer services and financial support.

How will this benefit San Antonio as a whole?

There are few issues with a greater benefit to San Antonio than the education of its of its citizens. While the city focuses its attention on high profile initiatives such as Prek4sa and Cafe College, there is a large population whose educational needs are unmet. EOTOSA fills a void for the functionally illiterate adult, who otherwise would go unserved. Literate adults positively impact the literacy of their households and communities, thereby benefiting the entire city.

How did you hear about Awesome SA?

We are a previous applicant that was selected as a finalist.

Related Stories:

$1,000 for wabiStory App: Placemaking via Digital Storytelling

Awesome SA <3?s 1005 Faces

Gallery: 1005 Faces by Sarah Brooke Lyons

Amazing! The Awesome Foundation Spreads to San Antonio

San Anto Cultural Arts & Awesome SA: Paletas, Bikes, Youth Engagement

UPDATE: January Awesome SA, $1,000 Towards a ‘No Kill’ San Antonio

$1,000 for Awesome Little Libraries

Who Will Win December’s $1,000 Awesome SA Grant? Find Out at Third Brewsday

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org