Ignite challenges community with big ideas, and fast

With 12 local speakers with just five minutes of time, Ignite offers a rapid-fire platform to share ideas, passions and creativity.
Undercurrent brought the ninth iteration of Ignite Memphis to life Monday, Nov. 23 with 12 local speakers tackling a variety of topics in just five minutes. The event took place in front of a sold-out show at the new Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education downtown.
 
Undercurrent, an informal group now in its fourth year, hosts monthly social events at popular spots around Memphis. The organization’s mission isn’t solidly defined, but the people behind it maintain an understanding of their goals. As Patrick Woods, one of the Undercurrent founders, said from the Ignite stage, Undercurrent hopes to make things happen in Memphis from the bottom up and the inside out. For Woods, city change does not come through committees or mandated initiatives, but with hustle, drive and creativity.
 
And that’s the reasoning behind producing Ignite each year. "We love producing Ignite because it gives us the chance to bring 12 interesting, creative, and entertaining people to the stage. It's become a platform for all sorts of people to share their stories and inspire the city," Woods said. "We've sold out four Ignites in a row because people love being challenged by big ideas, as well as learning what others are working on in Memphis. The attendees are every bit as interesting and plugged-in as the folks onstage. Ignite truly has become a catalyst and connector for the groups in this city who are working on important things."
 
Sponsors of Ignite included Presenting Sponsor, Launch Tennessee; Event Sponsors ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and United Capital Financial Life Management; partners Start Co. and the New Memphis Institute, and the after party was sponsored by My HQ Downtown Memphis.
 
Ignite Vol. 9 kicked off with Wiseacre’s Brian Balough, who took the audience through the process of making beer and his own personal growth in the time he has spent making it, with his talk, "Brewery Misconceptions: I Don’t Just Drink Beer All Day." Balough was the first of 12 speakers who took the stage for fast-paced 5 minute presentations. The ideas and inspiration come every 15 seconds in the form of 20 auto-advancing slides.
Watch the video here.

Ruby Powell, a former administrator in an underperforming school, shared “You Can Help a Low Performing School (Without Being a Teacher or a Parent).” Powell offered suggestions for every price, style and budget that could be used in any place at any time to reward teachers who are in need of help. She let us know the offices know of the needs as well.
Watch the video here.

Stephen Hackett is one of the cofounders of Relay FM and spoke on “What's Special about Podcasting,” from huge hits like Serial to the Pen, Ink and Paper aficionado podcast fan group that that scheduled a meet-up in Atlanta. The internet, Hackett argued, allows people with very specific interests to find each other, and those audiences can be surprisingly passionate about supporting that subject matter.
Watch the video here.

Vishant Shahis is a recent transplant to Memphis and his talk addressed fitting in to new surroundings. In his talk “The Difference between Brown and White,” he focused both on the differences and similarities between himself, an Indian American, and his father, who is white.
Watch the video here.
 
Laurel Amatangelo­ discussed the importance of preservation and methods of creation in her talk “ART-IS-ANAL: The Importance of Artisans in Modern Society.” Artisans and Craftsmen are disappearing around the globe and the beautiful goods they make are either fading away or being appropriated by others. She communicated the value in preserving these gifts.
Watch the video here.
 
Paul Morris offered some post mortem insight in “What I’ve Learned as Downtown Memphis Commission President.” Morris gave an overview of how he helped lead the good fight to get downtown booming again, focusing on the importance of attention to detail (or “sweating the small stuff”). His photos of recent improvements to South Main showed how changes that may seem minor on their own can accumulate quickly to make a neighborhood attractive to residents and businesses.
Watch the video here.

John Markham took a non-traditional approach, talking about his early adulthood journey through Central America in a 1960’s era Volkswagen in “How to Bribe a Central American Military Check Point Guard.” To tell the story, Markham had returned to the sites decades later and re-photographed the people, places, and things he saw.
Watch the video here.
 
Andre Gibson laid out his suggestion for Memphis public transit in his talk “Making Public Transit Work for Memphis' Millennials.” He highlighted the importance of good public transit to attract talented millennials to Memphis, as well everyone else.
Watch the video here.
 
Brendan Larkin of Relevant Roasters explained “Why Your Cup of Coffee Costs $5.” Everyone likes good value, but often if everyone in the process is paid a proper wage for the quality coffee they are providing, it should in fact cost about that much, if not more. Larkin feels making those choices as consumers is important.
Watch the video here.
 
Emory Williamson’s moving presentation was later voted a crowd favorite. Titled “Dear Monster, the talk paid homage to Williamson’s lifelong personal struggle with depression and his current management and daily victories controlling that “monster.”
Watch the video here.
 
In her talk “How to Look like You Know What Hell You're Doing,” Katrina Coleman spoke about running the Memphis Comedy Festival and several successful organizations by just diving in and faking it until she pulls it off.
Watch the video here.
 
Author Chris Burns introduced the crowd to “The 30 Day Project: How Daily Dedication Can Lead to Something Amazing”, the second book in his One Hour to Wealth series. He took the audience through his trademarked B.O.M.B and P.O.P.I.T. acronyms for how to responsibly turn a passion project into a successful venture.
Watch the video here.
 

Read more articles by Chad Riggs.

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