What do the Backyard Growers school salad days, Cape Ann Art Haven’s Lobster Trap Christmas Tree work, and Chris Frontiero’s Giant Gloucester Chess game have in common?
They are, according to one local group, all part of what makes Gloucester “awesome.” And they —along with the Cape Ann Social Club, which was seeking money to sustain its efforts to serve those with mental health or emotional challenges — are among those who have received a $1,000 micro-grant under the Awesome Gloucester program.
Awesome Gloucester, based on the model of the international Awesome Foundation, is comprised of a group of 20 local members who, headed by folks like “dean” Sal Zerilli, the YMCA’s Rick Doucette, Amanda Nash, kick in money on a monthly basis to support and award grants. That cash, in turn, goes to applicants who pitch proposals on the third Monday of each month at either The Gloucester House or at LaTrattoria.
The criteria for the awards? Which of the projects, chosen as finalists from a number of other applications, is deemed to have the most potential for making Gloucester even more awesome than its backers believe it is now. And, yes, those winning proposals can include Frontiero’s, which involved purchasing a giant Gloucester-centric chess set, bringing it to schools and varying locations, and welcoming challengers, all in an effort to promote Gloucester.
Is the idea cute? Sure. Is it fun? You bet. Does it work?
By all accounts, yes — and not just because of the commitment and generosity of the trustees in funding these projects. The fact is, this project has sparked a unique surge of innovation and community spirit that can only make Gloucester more “awesome” in the eyes of us all.
That makes Awesome Gloucester one truly awesome grass-roots effort — and one we can only hope grows stronger every day.