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ANDREW GUNN CONSULTING is a boutique, mobile firm focussed on facilitating impact philanthropy in small cities and rural areas in southwestern Ontario.
Our focus is on urban renewal and youth engagement. We aim to accelerate economic and cultural development by reinventing philanthropy and community collaboration. Details of our projects are shared through our innovative media platform, young & free press.
We provide an entirely innovative approach to philanthropy and community-building that is integrated and always-evolving. There are three main components:
First … we consult with municipalities, charitable corporations, school boards, colleges and universities, business improvement areas, economic development offices, and not-for-profit organizations to design projects that will succeed in small cities and rural areas.
Second … we connect continuously with donors, including private companies, foundations, individuals, and estate executors, who are passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of others, and would like to start-up and support new, high-impact community projects. Additionally, Andrew Gunn will serve in select circumstances as the Trustee of estates.
Third … we link the right donors and partners with the appropriate projects and organizations, facilitate the funding required, and assist with implementing the projects, too.
Throughout this process, we add an interesting twist! Our in-house media outlet, young & free press, features teenagers as journalists who cover local culture and events. This gives us countless opportunities to connect with individuals and businesses wherever we go, and our cast of commentators develop new ideas to bring to our network of donors and partners! In this way, we involve young people directly in the culture and decision-making that goes into shaping the future of our region. Visit the young & free press website and our Instagram page.
On an ongoing basis, we consult with all parties to ensure the most positive results possible, as well as long-term sustainability and accountability. This is impact philanthropy.
past and current projects
Many of our recent projects have been focussed on urban renewal, as well as providing young people opportunities in small cities and rural areas. Here is a short list:
Track to the Future Mural Project
Our team has worked in collaboration with the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation and Railway City Tourism to coordinate the ongoing Track to the Future mural project. Featuring artwork by Mediah, Meaghan Claire Kehoe, Denial, Andrew Lewis, Laura Woermke, Kelsey Montague, SBUONE, Nancy Deleary and many more, the project has added depth and beauty to St. Thomas. We arranged financial support for the project through the Estate of Donna Bushell.
Railway City Little Free Library Boxes
In this unique project, we developed fun names for neighbourhoods around St. Thomas and gradually installed one of our distinctive ‘Railway City Little Free Library’ boxes in each one. The boxes feature signs that provide insight into local history and culture. This community-building initiative is inspired by the study of psychogeography, which aims to contemplate neglected yet fascinating aspects of urban environments. Our team assembled funding for this project from a number of private sector donors, and we have benefitted from strong relationships with community partners like the STEAM Education Centre and the St. Thomas Public Library.
Forest City Playground Murals
Members of our team worked with Tourism London, Downtown London, and Museum London to organize the funding required to support the installation of new artwork in Market Lane, the walkway that connects Dundas Place and Covent Garden Market. The murals by artists Hawlii Pichette, Meaghan Claire Kehoe, and Steph Boutari have combined to form a genuine landmark space in the city, which is now utilized by the municipality, local businesses, and a variety of organizations for special events. Subsequently, the team at EXAR Studios activated the murals through a new augmented reality attraction available in the Engage ARt app.
Downtown Simcoe BIA
Simcoe is the largest urban area in Norfolk County, one of the most diverse and productive agricultural zones in the country. Our team has worked with the Downtown Simcoe BIA to install murals and other public artwork with the goal of reflecting the fascinating intersection of urban and rural life in the community. Thousands of seasonal farm labourers come to Norfolk County each year to drive the productivity of large fruit and vegetable operations. We coordinated funding to have artist Meaghan Claire Kehoe paint murals that showcase the local food culture; further, we arranged for artists to paint picnic tables to animate and activate the outdoor space at the Norfolk Arts Centre (also referred to as the Lynnwood Arts Centre). Along the way, our team employed social media storytelling to highlight local businesses and the new art projects.
Students Build Cities
Our team has collaborated with the Thames Valley District School Board to develop the new Students Build Cities program. The focus is put on engaging local elementary and secondary school students in a variety of real-life community projects. Through this process, students have worked on the development of new murals and public art, informed augmented reality projects, assisted with the conceptualization of a health care facility, pitched design ideas for a housing project, and shared ideas for the new $2M Westlake-Evans Civic Park in downtown St. Thomas.
We have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting local businesses and supporting the communities where we live and work. One noteworthy effort was the introduction of the new pop-up street patio program in St. Thomas, which we organized in 2020 and 2021 in collaboration with the City of St. Thomas, St. Thomas Downtown Development Board, and Pop-Up Street Patios Inc. The patios provided outdoor dining spaces during the pandemic.
STEAM Community Studio
One of our most innovative projects has been the STEAM Community Studio. We arranged funding from the Estate of Donna Bushell to support this initiative. Here is a quick description of how the program works: municipal staff, community members, businesses, and local organizations identify persistent challenges facing the St. Thomas and Elgin County area; staff at the STEAM Centre organize subject matter experts and students to analyze the dynamics involved and make recommendations; and finally, funding is available to prototype potential solutions to each issue! This has proven to be a wonderful way to build engagement in the community, and gradually develop ways to address various challenges, including how to divert waste, encourage transit use, and support active transit including walking, cycling and skateboarding.
There are lots of other projects happening, and new ones coming together all the time! Follow along with Andrew Gunn on Twitter @agconsultinginc
PHOTO: Denial with Emily Stage of young & free press in September 2020 as the finishing touches were being put on the 'Strange Adventures' mural at 930 Talbot Street in St. Thomas.
PHOTO: Andrew Gunn and Maddie King at one of the Railway City Little Free Library Boxes at the Elevated Park in St. Thomas.
PHOTO: Avelea Thorne and Emily Stage from young and free press highlight the 'Forest City Playground' murals at Market Lane in London.
PHOTO: Andrew Gunn and Emily Stage featuring one of the pop-up street patios along Talbot Street in St. Thomas.
PHOTO: Andrew Gunn and Maddie King at the Transit Station in St. Thomas.
bio + contact info
Every great project begins with a conversation! Please feel free to get in touch with Andrew Gunn directly. In most cases, Andrew will arrange a time to meet with you, and will be joined by our Vice-President of Youth Engagement & Strategy, Maddie King.
ANDREW GUNN is a graduate of Queen's University and McMaster University. In recent years, he has participated in the development of a series of significant community projects in southwestern Ontario through consulting on estate giving, volunteering, as well as working in the advancement office and teaching agriculture and business at Fanshawe College.
MADDIE KING is currently pursuing post-secondary education. She is one of the originators of young & free press and continues to develop many of our projects and social media concepts.