Introducing Protostars Season 2
50 of the wildest, most creative passion projects we could find.
Friends, it's my absolute privilege to introduce you to Protostars Season 2.
Our future leaders are not just sitting in a university lecture hall or doing an internship at an investment bank. The next generation is also breaking down complex issues through rap on TikTok, peering through a camera lens, or sitting at a piano composing, leaning over a workbench, painting, writing, or programming. Their passions are as diverse as they are dynamic, and they will be the ones to solve the most significant challenges we face tomorrow.
Protostars is our microgrant program designed to find these people, and fund their passion projects.
These are the earliest cheques Blackbird has ever cut, and in the future, hopefully, we can go earlier.
Our objective was to find beautiful examples of creativity, supercharge their work through funding and community building, and use their stories to inspire more young people.
We received over 300 incredible applications running wide and deep on the creative spectrum: engineers, poets, theatre-makers, scientists, musicians, podcasters, bloggers, artists and activists. We ended up finding 52 of them.
We are all building in public - myself included. Protostars will be sharing weekly updates, and I will be sharing those across our channels. To follow along, hit the Blackbird Foundation on Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to this Substack. Or follow me directly on Twitter.
Without further delay, please meet the brilliant Protostars from Season 2.
Lana Dewan is creating a new kind of academic journal. "Arting the Ancients" is an illustrative blog that aims to make Ancient History accessible to the general public. https://www.instagram.com/artingtheancients/
Grace Dumas is a psychology student, artist and mental health advocate. She is creating a series of artworks and recorded interviews showcasing young people's experience of mental illness in the Australian mental health system.
Isabella McCulloch is an astrophysicist working at the Australian Space Agency. She is producing a 3 segment podcast to inspire everyone from all fields to find their place in space. https://www.instagram.com/_bella_mcc/
Sam Pannifex is putting on a collaborative mixed medium art exhibition featuring works of Ikebana created by his grandmother, Elizabeth Angell. In addition to hosting the exhibition, Sam is composing music to accompany each of his Grandmothers artworks.
Jae Brieffies is hosting Bright Generation - a one-week travelling careers fair, touring rural and regional Western Australian schools, bringing resources and experience to support rural students in raising their ambitions and putting in place practical steps to create their dream future. https://www.instagram.com/siena.bordignon/
Emilie Morscheck is writing a novella about a young woman who finds out she is to be claimed by three fairies on her 16th birthday. https://twitter.com/EmilieMorscheck
Gilbert Garden is building interactive instruments that will turn conductive ink into sounds. Effectively creating music from art.
E Wen Wong is hosting EnviroPAST - a series of talks designed to inspire, educate, connect, and challenge young people to make positive environmental change, particularly in plastic pollution. Wellington on the 9th and 10th of July. https://www.enviropast.com/
Brodie O'Halloran is producing a compilation album of songs written and recorded by secondary aged musicians from Cardinia Shire. The album will be the outcome of a 10-week mentorship program that takes students through the stages of songwriting and equips them with a specialised tool for self-expression. https://www.instagram.com/magdaliamusic/
Kieran Fellowes is creating his dream guitar from locally sourced materials and timbers.
Izabela Barakovska is curating a new publication, Culture & Conversation. Think: The New Yorker x Aus. https://www.instagram.com/localanaesthetic/
Elly Williams is an engineer and visual artist building an interactive artwork. The work features motorised anemones that shrink away in the presence of a viewer, returning once the person moves away. https://www.instagram.com/elly.williams.art/
Niel Reitmann is building an online Distributed Autonomous Community (DAO) called Flaming Galahs. The project brings together five thousand of the country's most ambitious students in a new kind of community that organises itself and creates value using web 3 technologies like NFTs, DAOs and social tokens. https://galah.community/
Siena Bordignon is producing GEYAE (GEM Emerging Young Artist Exhibition) - a cutting edge exhibition featuring 12 emerging young Sydney artists. The exhibition is centred around the theme 'Fantasy Worlds', demonstrating how valuable cultural exchange is when met with a creative and playful approach. https://www.instagram.com/gem_connect/
Brandon Young is creating an original rock musical called "Manic Pixie Dream Band." This brand new work of Australian musical theatre will be released as a concept album / audio-drama hybrid before taking the stage. Based on true stories, MPDB centres around a torrid love affair between two musicians in a band together, which quickly spirals out of control. https://www.instagram.com/thebrandonyoung/
Marco Junarta is making a voice-controlled head and neck of a Stars Wars character called K2SO. K2 is a reprogrammed imperial droid. The byproduct of his reprogramming is that he lost all manners and is incredibly funny. He will serve as a google home/ amazon Alexa like living room speaker/ display piece. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marco-junarta-7b6436234/
Dan Brockwell is running a 3 month hacker house for young founders & creators to co-work and co-learn, surrounded by beach & bush in Northern Wollongong. https://earlywork.notion.site/Earlyhome-a216db2bdfd9400abf5f17180b6eac0f
Amira Skeggs is building Kindred Mental Health - an online search tool that connects young people to mental health resources in their community. https://twitter.com/AmiraSkeggs
Seb Fergusson is redesigning the Surf Life Saving Rescue Board. It will have enhanced abilities to save lives in our oceans with improvements in speed, strength, stability and sustainability. https://linktr.ee/Seb_fergusson
Oliver Coates is making an educational video game featuring the history, economics and politics of New Zealand during the 1980's. https://olivercoates1.itch.io/turning-point
Aaron Ellis-Bloor is the editor of Elucidate - a media venture that democratises academia by distilling academic research into fun, short and story-like articles. The content is written by a growing community of passionate, curious and sceptical university students who are obsessed with trying to make people think differently about the world. https://elucidatemedia.org/
Romanian Asche is making a music video for his song 'cold house', about a friendship that dissolved. https://www.instagram.com/romaanasche/
Bella Kent is producing a documentary about Charlotte, a 15-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. https://www.instagram.com/charlottedocumentary/
Jesse Pretorius is a fine art photographer based in Perth. She is creating a new semi-annual zine that features local and emerging student creative practitioners. https://www.instagram.com/goofy_jpegs/
Lara Yelavich-Coddington produces Six Cents, an artist-run publication distributed all throughout New Zealand. They aim to amplify new voices in art and encourage higher public engagement with the arts in Aotearoa. https://www.instagram.com/6cents_/
Katie Glasgow Palmer is producing an exhibition exploring the changing species layout of the Waitemata Harbour. She's combining interactive crochet pieces with auditory interviews with fishermen who have watched species decline and fluctuate over the year. https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-glasgow-palmer-42ab82152/
Melanie Philippou and Angelina Das are developing a menstrual health education resource to be utilised by primary and high school teachers in Australian schools. Follow peried on Instagram.
Helen Shen is creating EnviroSound - a concert series featuring music about our climate, wildlife, and humanity. Helen aims to inspire a love for nature and motivate climate advocacy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFZZ35t40heWDzh-0hvIx-w
Loredana Podolska-Kint is developing interactive poetry workshops for New Zealand primary school children. https://www.instagram.com/loredana_poetry/
Ella Kolomyjec is producing Forth - a quarterly magazine that will give practical support, effective skills and resources to people looking to manage their own mental health and wellbeing. https://www.instagram.com/forth_mind/
Rafe Skidmore is a designer who is refurbishing old cameras, selling them and donating all the profits to the Fred Hollows Foundation, who work to cure preventable blindness. https://instagram.com/viewfindercameras
Amber Clyde is producing a skate video to showcase girl skating talent in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. https://www.instagram.com/girlsskatenz/
Ivan Medrano is creating an immersive digital fashion exhibition in the Metaverse, accompanied by a physical book that will double up as a catalogue. https://www.instagram.com/ivvnvvi/
Declan Cole is directing a short film that explores a man’s journey into the depths of the internet, and the consequences for his girlfriend. https://www.linkedin.com/in/declan-coyle-831344219/
Ari Kwasner-Cats & Renee Kypriotis are creating a film exploring the relationships between 3rd generation Greek Australians with their ethnic and contemporary identities. https://www.instagram.com/_arikc_/
Laneikka Denne’s play, Dead Skin is being performed at Hollywood Fringe and Off-broadway in New York. Blackbird Foundation is helping Laneikka with her flights so she can work towards producing a film adaptation of her play. https://www.instagram.com/laneikka/
Brendan Lewis is a contemporary graffiti muralist and fine artist based in Perth. He is producing a poetry/Grafitti book that will be published alongside an exhibition featuring his watercolour paintings. https://www.instagram.com/hope_perth/
Cassie Hamilton is developing a queer theatre show about identity and patriarchy called Daddy Developed a Pill. https://www.instagram.com/cassievehamilton/
Thomas Walker and Samual Drown use satellite imagery and historical weather data to train a machine-learning algorithm to examine and predict how flooding accelerates road degradation.
Tom Geary founded The Tempest Collective to produce a sustainable natural-wax based cologne. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-geary-b612a6215/
Margarita Bassova is producing Verve - a niche counter-culture Music, Arts and Culture publication sharing creative writing, thought pieces, art, music and fashion. vervezine.com/
Abbey Shen is creating an online compendium showcasing the nuances and complexities of Chinese culture intertwined with the Australian experience. She will use film, audio, photography and text. https://twitter.com/abbyshenn
Monique Gawn is producing art-based workshops to educate people on strategies and resources to support victims of sexual assault. https://www.instagram.com/gawme_/
Jacob Parker and Hayden Tonazzi have written and directed the theatre production, Tell Me Before The Sun Explodes, a queer exploration of death, anxiety, and how the words gay and dead are used in the same sentence more than we'd like to admit. https://www.instagram.com/haydentonazzi/
Eddy Robinson is making an enclosure for a CNC milling machine to be used for machining aluminium CubeSat frames for his new start-up. https://www.instagram.com/ras.space/
Zac Matariki is a student studying product design at the Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin. His passion project is learning traditional Maori carving under the guidance of his Whakapapa and Koro (teacher) Rua Paul. Zac is exploring his Whakapapa (heritage), his identity as Maori and the role and use of Whakairo in a modern context.