10/100/1000: The Finalists 

These nine ideas have what it takes to change Tampa Bay for the better.

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Spec Performance
“Spec is an extravaganza of live original performance artwork! Every few months, artists from different genres show off their hot new works.”

Last year, writer/director/choreographer Erin Tracy gave a presentation during Pecha Kucha, the unpronounceable but fruitful series during which creative types get 20-minute slots to show slides of work in progress. The experience led her to an epiphany: Why not adapt the format for performing artists? Spec Performance Series will do just that: Artists in theater, dance, live music, film, performance art or any combination thereof will get 7-11 minutes apiece to present highlights of their latest work, followed by a moderated discussion with the audience. With her Spec partner Tina Tidwell, a dance and yoga instructor, Tracy hopes to create “a local sustainable performing art scene through new work development, encouraging artistic risk-taking, building community within different artistic disciplines, and creating meaningful conversation with our audiences.” The first performance is Sat., June 2 at 8 p.m. at The Roosevelt 2.0 in Ybor City and is open to the public. specperformance.org

Learning is for Everyone, Inc. (LI4E)
“Like a library but with far more than books, makerspaces provide community residents with the tools, training and resources to become active and empowered creators of their futures instead of passive consumers.”

Learning is for Everyone (LI4E) is a not-for-profit education resource organization dedicated to supporting the “Curiosity Driven Life” through activities ranging from an award-winning community-based robotics team to the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, a gathering of local inventors and self-confessed science geeks. So LI4E President Terri Willingham was naturally drawn to the concept of Makerspaces, a community education movement that originated in Wisconsin. The goal in Tampa, says Willingham, is to locate “a true public community space open to all, with machines and tools and computers, with classrooms and offering workshops and meeting spaces, for everything from robotics to yoga to powder puff mechanics and entrepreneurial learning.” She says the idea has attracted strong interest from the University Area CDC, who believe they have a lead on a building. “But UACDC directors need to be assured that there is support and commitment for the idea.” li4e.org

Gene May
“If you hate bugs, mosquitoes or, even worse, pesticides, then the Tampa BAT-nitiative is for you!”

The puns may be irresistible (it’s a batty idea, etc.), but Gene May’s notion of building inexpensive housing for insect-eating bats has a precedent. “My sister lives on a farm in Texas,” he told CL, “and the entire state uses bats and bat-houses.” (His sister has 500 of them.) He was also inspired by a bridge-turned-bat-colony in Austin, where the nightly exodus of an estimated 1.5 million bats has become a tourist attraction. May envisions bat-house building parties, using pre-cut pieces and free house plans to bring the cost per domicile to about $8; each house would hold 100 bats, and each of the bats would eat an estimated 800-1,000 bugs in an evening. His suggestion for an ideal time to hold such events? Just before Halloween, of course.

Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association
“This entrepreneur garden is 128 sq ft., growing vegetables and skills.”

Opened just last August, the Tampa Heights Community Garden at 605 E. Frances Ave. is living proof of how important a garden can be to a neighborhood’s quality of life. Located in the shadow of I-275 on Department of Transportation-donated property, the garden encompasses family, individual and communal plots; table-height gardens for the disabled (including Wounded Warriors); and a special area for gardeners aged 6-11, who sold so many veggies last fall that they decided to use the funds to expand (after doing a market analysis, of course). The Tampa Bay Garden Club and Metropolitan Ministries are among the garden’s partners, making it not just a source of nutrition but an essential community gathering place. Check out the garden during its Earth Day observance, from 10-3 on Sun., April 22; there may be no better place to celebrate. tampaheightscommunitygarden.org

Future Founders Lab
“A camp where kids learn to grow great solutions to problems… and apply the scientific method to execute a sustainable startup.”

With his Future Founders Lab, Web entrepreneur and educator David Harris wants to “put the cool back in school.” The weeklong camp, launching in the summer of 2013, would teach teenagers everything from the art of the pitch to how to create a business model, from market research to how to attract investors. Mentors from UT and USF business schools, seasoned entrepreneurs, and instructors from Forward Thinking Iniatives will be on hand to guide the students. Harris will target kids from low-performing schools to give them the chance to experience “a full week of creativity, startup empowerment and the deep feeling that they can manifest solutions in our community” — and who knows, maybe create a company before they’ve even graduated high school. futurefounderslab.com


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