‘Aanii Nichii Drones’ wins Awesome Kingston July grant

Every month, Awesome Kingston awards a $1,000 grant to a local project that the trustees think will keep Kingston awesome. Last week, the July grant was awarded to Paul Carl for his Aanii Nichii Drones pitch.

For the past two years, Carl has been learning how to use a drone to capture the world from a different viewpoint. He first invested in a drone to take some family photographs, and quickly realized drone photography (and piloting) takes a lot of practice.

Finding a place to practice his aerial photography, while following all the regulations that come with flying a drone, led Carl to the Indigenous garden on Highway 15.

The Walking the Path of Peace Together Indigenous Food Garden offered Carl the space to fly his drone and practice his craft. “It has sort of morphed into a ‘while you give me the space to learn how to fly my drone and give me time to fly, I will take footage,’ and that’s what I do,” he explained, adding that he gives the images to the organization free of charge, and considers the photos to be the property of the garden organization.

Now that he’s more comfortable with his drone, Carl offers his time and energy to not-for-profit organizations and collects no fee for his work.

“Because of my disability issues, things I used to be able to I can’t do anymore. This is just another way of me getting older and being able to still give back to humanity in a productive way.”

When asked why he applied for the Awesome Kingston grant, Carl told Kingstonist he hopes to document many of the awesome things going on in the Kingston area.

“Our Indigenous community here is awesome. There’s so many great things happening locally,” he said, noting that he has plans to purchase a better drone, which will provide more options for the organizations he supports and hopes to support in future.

“I would love to be able to work with nonprofit gardens and the Indigenous community to document the whole year using the drone, so aerial footage via photography, mapping, and thermal imaging.”

While that dream might be a bit further away, Carl plans to use the Awesome Kingston money toward a drone that’s one step closer to his goal. He currently uses a DJI Mini 2 and would like to upgrade to DJI Mini 3 Pro, which he believes will provide him more capacity.

“My goal is to get a drone that has mapping and thermal capabilities, but also to give back. If I get this better drone, someone else in the community could join me,” he expressed. “There have been people that say they would love to drone with me, would love to learn about this, so I want to help them — give them the opportunity.”

Carl acknowledged that his aerial photography is not likely at the standards of some of the other drone photography businesses, but he’s had great feedback from those he’s photographed so far.

“Everybody knows the level I’m at, and everybody’s very appreciative of what they get from it and they do love it,” he stated.

“My final thing is to really make sure that I’m supporting the community and food sovereignty and climate change [efforts], because that’s what the gardens are doing. Indigenous cultures are celebrating their culture and making people proud of who they are, and I can get them seen in a different way.”

He also has a soft spot for what Awesome Kingston is doing with their microgrant each month.

“It’s just another way of giving back, and sometimes it’s just someone sitting at a kitchen table, coming up with an idea, and it’s been run and become a great thing.”

Learn more about Awesome Kingston and its monthly microgrant on the Awesome Foundation website.

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