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Kitchener man’s video wins $70K solar panel system for MCC Ontario

Mirko Petricevic/Record staff

A low-key video is going to generate loads of power for Kitchener-based Mennonite Central Committee Ontario.

In the two-minute clip Ken Ogasawara simply strolls down a local tree-lined street, looks into the camera and delivers a monologue about how each person can care for the Earth.

To conserve energy without too much effort, you can turn off your power bars before going to bed. Or if you’re more ambitious you can install solar panels on your roof and crank out kilowatts for decades to come.

In short, you can go big or go small.

And in Ogasawara’s case, his little video won big.

This past Saturday (Sept. 24) Ogasawara’s entry took first prize — a $70,000 solar panel system — in the WattsNext? video contest run by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, a non-profit group that promotes renewable energy and community power generation projects.

Video entries were posted online. The winner was determined by the one that collected the most clicks. Ogasawara’s video — entitled Go Big or Go Small — attracted nearly 5,000 viewers.

Ogasawara created the video as part of his part-time communications role at MCC Ontario’s office in Kitchener. So the panels are destined to be installed atop the relief agency’s new office planned for construction in 2012-2013.

Darren Kropf, MCC Ontario’s community engagement associate, said making the video and entering it in the contest was a creative way of spreading the agency’s “creation care” message. It was also an opportunity to use it as part of the agency’s new social media strategy for spreading its values among agency supporters.

After Facebook and blog posts urged people to watch the video, nearly 5,000 tuned-in — more than enough for first prize.

“To win was really a bonus,” said Kropf. “Even if we hadn’t won we would have felt like it was a success.”

He said part of the video’s appeal is Ogasawara’s script.

“It’s funny,” Kropf said. “I think we need that kind of humour, particularly in the environmental movement that can very easily lead to guilt.”

The film features Ogasawara strolling down the street and speaking to the camera as animated sketches, drawn by Ogasawara’s filmmaking partner Jonathan Steckley, appear on screen.

“We like to keep things simple, but very effective,” Ogasawara said.

And he hopes winning the solar panel system will brighten their filmmaking days.

“It’s a good calling card for future work,” he said.

The WattsNext? competition was the first video contest organized by Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, said Kristopher Stevens, the agency’s executive director.

The six entries drew more than 7,000 views.

“For the first time, it’s great,” he said in a brief interview Thursday. “We’re talking about doing it again next year.”

The video is posted on the MCC Ontario website at

You can also view the video on Youtube at

The OSEA website is at


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