Sustainability was the name of the game in every sense of the word at Ignite Philly 6. Most presenters spoke of modest but long-term goals for their projects and the city, and many presentations involved environmentalism, though most were just looking to improve our fair city.
Now on its sixth edition, the Ignite process is familiar to most of us: presenters get five minutes and 20 slides to present on any idea they’d like. The event raised $1,000 for former presenter West Philly Tool Library (printed on a giant wooden check) thanks to the ticket proceeds of a sold out Johnny Brendas.
Below, we give out some awards including Best Entrance, Best Dressed and Best Overall:
When Azeem Hill took the stage he did so with a huge black “X” marked on his hand. The high schooler may be too young drink, but he’s old enough to want to reform the way our schools operate.
“We need schools that develop leaders and problem solvers, not test takers,” said Hill.
Ignite Philly was full of inspirational stories about the great things happening in Philadelphia, but none more inspiring than the West Philly Hybrid X Team, a group of West Philadelphia high school students who competed for the automotive X Prize: a $10 million award granted to the team that could make a car that could be mass-produced will getting over 100 MPG.
The students beat teams from MIT and large corporations to make it deep into the competition. While they didn’t win, the project helped inspire an entire school to rethink the way we educate our youth and the group even earned praise from President Obama. Plus, the sports car they built was damn cool.
“It’s a teenager’s dream come true, and a middle-aged man’s dream come true,” said student presenter Azeem Hill with a glance to his teacher, Simon Hauger.
Honorable Mention: Organizer Geoff DiMasi’s “Bye-95” a semi-serious call to demolish 95 between the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges.
Though Lord Whimsy gave the Eric and Ryan Berley a run for their money during his presentation about the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the old-school ice cream makers were the best dressed speakers of the night. The brothers and owners of the Franklin Fountain showed off Early 20th century photographs from ice cream shops around the country and they looked good while doing it. We’re told that the duo plans on opening an ice cream museum above their beloved shop on Front and Market.
From the “I wish we would have thought of that department:” Mary Beth Hertz and Julie Haynes of the South Philly Food Co-op talked about their efforts to get a co-op in their ‘hood. But what made the presentation shine was the way Haynes marked each new slide by tapping the wind chime at her hip.
Quote of the night
The Ship It Society, created by Independence Hall members Johnny Bilotta, Andy Mroczkowski, Jake O’Brien and Joe Walsh to, well, ship apps told the audience how collaboration and their special meeting style are helping the creatives there crank out applications under the IndyHall Labs brand.
Everyone involved has a stake in the project, an idea masterfully summed up by O’Brein:
“Employees play solitaire, partners bust their ass.”
Best chance to make fun of Technically Philly
The West Philly Hybrid X Team knows a little something about getting things right. So when their slideshow sputtered and turned off about 30 seconds in, teacher Simon Hauger and student Azeem Hill didn’t even blink. The two left the stage and restarted their presentation like nothing happened, garnering a second round of applause and making them the only Ignite Philly presenters ever to get two entrances.
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The complete Ignite Philly 6 lineup:
- Dan Gasiewski- First Person Arts
- Simon Hauger and Azeem Hill – West Philly Hybrid X Team
- Lindsey Baron, Mike Zaleski, Andy Sharpe – Philly Transit
- Geoff Dimasi- I-95 proposal
- Johnny Bilotta, Andy Mroczkowski, Jake O’Brien, Joe Walsh- The Ship It Society
- Paul Blore- Power Up Gambia
- Eric and Ryan Berley – Franklin Fountain
- Ken Fink – Intermission- Wondergy
- Stuart Kennedy – Knight Arts Challenge
- Chris Wink, Brian James Kirk, Sean Blanda – Threesomes
- Allen Crawford aka Lord Whimsy – protecting the Pine Barrens
- Mary Beth Hertz, Julie Haynes – South Philly Food Co-op
- Toby Altman- Sustainable 19125