IgniteMPLS Sparks Passion In The Twin Cities Community

November 27, 2013

ignite“How do you stay fresh?”

“Where do you find inspiration?”

“What can I do to feed my creativity?”

These questions always seem to pop up when talking about work/life balance and creativity, whether discussing with a seasoned veteran, a curious student, or anyone in-between. And they’re questions I often consider as I explore new ways to learn and feed my curiosity through events in the community: drawing co-ops, networking events, concerts and most recently, IgniteMPLS.

Possibly the love child of TED Talks and improv, IgniteMPLS takes place twice a year and is described as “a high-energy evening of five-minute talks by people who have a burning idea – and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd.”

Each speaker has been selected from a pool of applicants and has 20 slides and five minutes to wow the audience, who have come ready to learn and be inspired. It makes for a compelling, fast-paced evening.

(Check out the above talk from IgniteMPLS speaker Anna Kruchowski. FYI – I already confirmed the Snatch is indeed an Olympic weightlifting event.)

And our conversation took many turns throughout the night, from satire to policy to food science and everything in between. The talks evoked laughter, smiles and an occasional tear from the captive audience. Becoming a mixologist and creating our own simple syrup suddenly felt like it was within our grasp, as was saving a life, picking a lock and creating our own straw bale garden. We laughed while deconstructing pharmaceutical advertising, navigated the world of online dating and became a global unicorn while on sabbatical in Brazil.

And we were reminded about how little it means to learn these things if we don’t choose to live. Eric Brown, a local doctor who was recently diagnosed with ALS, moved the crowd to tears – and to their feet for a standing ovation – while sharing his hatred for the disease, but passion for living with his family and friends.

It’s hard not to be taken with each of the talks and the gumption of those willing to share their passion, the secret to how they stay fresh, with 700 peers. But I also was taken with the crowd. Speakers were respected, encouraged, applauded, and cell phones were largely left untouched. Stowed away until a break.

Was it a collective recognition of the courage required to get up on stage and talk the talk? Was it the fast-paced environment? Perhaps both. But the audience disregarded the digital experience in favor of the [insert superlative] moment unfolding in front of us at the Riverview Theater. Because we are a community of individuals, each with unique interests, who are passionate about living life and igniting that same passion in others.

Now that’s inspiring.