Voting now open for Room for Thought

Last month we mentioned an initiative by American Express that was offering the opportunity for few lucky Canadians to work with prominent mentors like Marc and Craig Kielburger, Les Stroud of Survivorman and Emily Haines to bring an idea to life. Now, after all entries have been reviewed by the three mentors and American Express, the nine finalists for ROOM FOR THOUGHT have been chosen and voting for the best ideas have begun.

Over the course of the next two weeks, anyone can vote on these nine ideas and decide for themselves which ones they feel has the best potential to make a difference. The three most popular entries (one per category) will then get a chance to work with the aforementioned mentors to bring their ideas for life. In addition, all entrants will receive exclusive content from the School of Life.

The three finalists in each category are detailed below.


Survivor Garden (Lisa Shanker)
This idea is to start a therapeutic garden for people recovering from serious illness. As a cancer survivor Lisa has spent time with other survivors talking about the things that they've done on their healing journey. One activity that gave many of them peace and joy was spending time in a garden. She would love to start a therapeutic garden for people recovering from serious illness to give them access to gardening skills.

The Rupali Project (Jody Cason)
Jody's idea is to send sewing machines to women in India whose skills may be exploited in sweatshops. What they sew could be sold in Canada, with proceeds going directly back to them. This could create an entire industry: from manufacturing to market. By recycling unwanted machinery, the initiative can create prosperity for third world women.

Miracle on Your Street (Christina Parkhurst)
This idea is to take a community Christmas Spirit Dinner nationally. Over the last 21 years, the Annual Christmas Spirit Community Dinner has gone from feeding 75 to 1,000 people who need a hot meal and friendship over the holidays. They want to take their efforts nationally, by creating a manual for other communities, and with its proceeds start a program that supports these families all year.


Preserving Time (Robert Postma)
This idea is to photograph remote parts of Canada to document climate change. Living in Northern Canada, Robert is surrounded by mighty mountains, clear rivers and broad expanses of untouched boreal forest, all of which is threatened by climate change. He proposes to travel to remote areas, photograph what may be lost for future generations, and raise awareness of what's at stake if climate change continues.

Canadian Road Trip (Carl Fortier)
This idea is to take the underprivileged on a cross-Canada road trip. Carl proposes a travel group for the under privileged: a chance to see Canada in its awesome entirety through a good ol' fashion road trip. With the high price of gas, road trips are becoming a thing of the past. He'd like to create a contest for people to win seats on a cross-Canada adventure to show people what they are missing.

The Second Chance Travel Co-op (Evan Malach)
Evan's idea gives the opportunity to travel the world to underprivileged youths who have experienced a survival quest. Helping those who have overcome abuse, disease, or a near death experience, The Second Chance Travel Co-Op offers the adventure of a lifetime to those whose lives were almost lost.


GHOST II (Andrew Huang)
This idea is a music installation piece that lets users interact with music in a unique way GHOST II is an interactive exploration of music. Multiple videos, each containing a different audio track, will be controlled by the audience. The audio will be constructed in such a way that simultaneous playback of the videos, regardless of when each one starts or stops, will result in a pleasing piece of music.

Everyone's Recording Studio (Sasha Spachak)
This idea gives people free access to instruments and recording equipment. Sasha's idea is a center with instruments and recording equipment that people can walk in off the street and use. This would be a fun way for people to express themselves and share their music. Sasha would also love to see an area with free, live music for everyone to enjoy, because quality concerts can be out of reach.

Music Mentors (Nicole Vanderburg)
Nicole's idea gives elementary school students who can't afford private music lessons free, one-on-one musical instruction from high school music students. Students will be matched based on musical interest and musical background. A year-end concert will be held to celebrate achievements and promote future interest in the program.

Which ideas do you like the best? Go ahead and vote on this Facebook page.

blogTO is a promotional supporter for ROOM FOR THOUGHT. The ROOM FOR THOUGHT will be located inside the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts during November 2011. The winner's idea will be showcased for a three day period with the venue being open to the public. American Express will also help make the idea an ongoing reality by offering the winner $10,000.

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