This past Thursday was Ignite Boulder 11 at Chautauqua Auditorium. This was my first time going to the event, but I can say that I'll never miss one again. Ignite featured 15 different speakers, called "Sparks," from the Boulder community who have something to say, whether it is to inspire, teach or enlighten. Each speaker is limited to 5 minutes, with Keynote slides (NOT Powerpoint, that was made very clear... nerds) backing them up that auto advance every 15 seconds. This keeps Ignite lively, fast paced, and interesting. Presenters are chosen by the community and event organizers.
The Ignite format is a worldwide phenomenon, but the one in Boulder is the biggest in the world. In the past, Ignite was held at Boulder Theater, but the demand for tickets pushed the event to the larger Chautauqua Auditorium. Ignite 11 began with a presentation by organizer Ef Rodriguez, who rattled off my favorite line of the night. Ef talked about his awkward high school years, pain lessened slightly by cool nicknames he would give himself to heighten his self esteem. His chosen title was "The Beekeeper," because "he gots all the honeys. "
Next was the charming Anna F. Sawyer with a presentation entitled "How to Marry the Rich." After many helpful hints such as "jogging suggestively," and "the rich have to marry someone, why not you" she finally concluded it was better to be adopted by the rich instead.
Crystal Watson and Korene Gallegos delivered "10 Selfish People Who Accidentally Changed the World for the Better." Their list included Judas, Robin Hood, Hans Christian Anderson, and your parents. They were followed by Ryan Wanger, with "10 Selfless People Who Accidentally Changed the World for the Worse." His comical but truthful list named Oppenheimer: the inventor of the atomic bomb, Hildebrand: the inventor of Autotune, and God- "lots of people have been killing each other over him for years." He suggested that everyone should be a little more selfish, because you can't love someone else before you love yourself. Aww.
Jason Cole presented "Movie Quotations You Should Never Use at Work." He explained that context is everything, and why you wouldn't use Hans Solo's line "laugh it up, fuzzball" to a bald guy. Basically, you don't want to have to explain yourself to HR, he said. Jason was followed by the amazing presentation by Ceci Ervin and "My Polish Catheter, a Tireless Search for a Cure for MS." She told us about her struggles with multiple sclerosis and the moment her life changed when she discovered an Italian doctor by the name of Zamboni. He believes that MS is not an auto-immune disorder, but a vascular disease he treats with his "Liberation Treatment." Funded through a friend who won a Joe Cocker giveaway, Ceci flew to Poland for the treatment. She reports now that she has increased feeling in her legs and and feet.
Other speakers at the event included Jim Macay with "Ageism Among Geeks," Josh Frasier, who suggested that there is an unexplainable separation between things we are scared of and things that are dangerous (Stairs- 210640 deaths each year, public speaking- 0), and Larkin Carey, who enthused the crowd with a game of Never Have I Ever. Kristina Wang and Ryan Schilt presented about visiting all counties in Colorado in 10 days, encouraging us to leave the "bubble." Cindy O'Keffe explained the benefits of grumpy enthusiasm, and Josh Mishell encouraged us to "Be Your Own Guitar Hero," and learn to play a real instrument. Zach Shapiro suggested we learn better when paired with people who are smarter than us, while Spike Ilaqua explained life according to Calvin and Hobbs. Justin Crowe ended the night with a rousing presentation entitled "High Fives and Livin' on a Prayer," and encouraged us to give more high fives, supplementing with a education how-to slide.
Bon Jovi and Twitter (of course) were common threads throughout Ignite 11, oddly enough. Everyone was all smiles as they slowly trickled out of the Auditorium into the warm summer night. Smacking hands from high fives could be heard across the lawn as people made their way home with a little more fire in their hearts.
Thanks so much to everyone who made Ignite 11 happen; it truly is a special event. If you attended, make sure to take the feedback survey here. Stay tuned for dates for the next Ignite Boulder, and check out Tedx, a similar event coming to Boulder August 7th.
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