‘Let’s continue these great conversations,’ he said in so many words.
Before an intermission of Ignite Philly 4 that could have been easily overlooked, Make:Philly‘s Harris Romanoff made a modest call to presenters that the Ignite series has sorely lacked: an opportunity to keep the conversations and inspiration flowing and perhaps create truly definable, actionable steps.
“Make is extending an invitation to speakers past and present to speak and to answer more questions,” Romanoff said to a crowd of more than 250 gathered in the upstairs of Johnny Brenda’s bar in Fishtown.
Though it was apparent that no one was yet booked for Make’s monthly DIY tech/hack meetings, it was a notable recommendation for Ignite, having now surpassed four sold out events since 2007.
Seats have gone so fast in the past that this time around, organizers put a premium on guaranteed access – a $5 donation to the Food Trust. An oversized check made out to the local nutrition nonprofit for $750 was presented during the festivities.
After a half dozen presenters gave five minute presentations on topics ranging from quantum physics to design, food canning to mentorship, members of Philly’s chiptunes scene played songs using vintage gaming equipment during an intermission.
But the momentum – along with the attendance – dipped noticeably in the second half of the show. Whether that was the result of the easy flow of Brenda’s beer taps or the fault of a bloated nearly-two-hour event bill is for attendees to decide.
Still, the event wasn’t without its shining moments. Our favorites are below.
Best of Show
Mike Worth of Videogame Growth Initiative wants to create the “Liberty Bell of Death” a visible and economy-boosting gaming industry in Philadelphia, as we covered in August. “Hollywood comes to the city, rapes, pillages and leaves after three months,” the energetic and passionate game designer said. Worth was adamant about staying in Philadelphia over moving to cities where game design is perhaps more established.
“We’re a bunch of stubborn 35-year-old men who have three-year-old daughters who do not want to pack up and move to San Francisco,” he said to shouts of support and a round of applause.
Worth was quick and effective, citing global gaming statistics, like the fact that World of Warcraft’s quarterly revenue of $1 billion is only a fraction of the $41 billion industry, comparing them with Philly numbers; Like how 80 game developers graduate from Penn and Drexel each year, taking with them more than $5.6 million in taxable revenue, he said.
Watch Worth’s invigorating lecture below.
Twitter frequenter and gay rights activist Chris Bartlett shared his new Gay History Wiki, what he calls the “social network for the dead.” On it he shares stories of those 4,600 who have passed away from HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. He envisions a time when Facebook could include a “Dead people you may know” feature and everyone’s story lives on.
Shmitten Kitten‘s sarcastic Anna Goldfarb got laughs with her sketches of suitors, her 0-47 track record with the “human male” and the site’s Mix Tape Speed Dating events with a photoshopped image of two unlikely reptiles smittenly face-to-face inside a heart. “If a T-Rex and a Shark can find love in this city, anyone can,” she ended.
Free Library President Siobhan Reardon hit the stage to loud applause before firing off more than a dozen bullet points illustrating a “different library,” one that embraces Twitter, offers the power and reach of the Internet and is hopeful for a new facility. It was a refreshing change of pace from the oft-cited library activism that arose from Philly’s summer budget crisis, what she called an “awkward visibility,” but it left us wondering about the stories behind the scenes of the library system, some of which have been stalled for years.
We’re trying not to fault City of Philadelphia Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steuer for mentioning that he was a Mets fan, before he moved to Philly, of course. But the crowd didn’t hide their emotion, booing the mayoral cabinet member — and his early mention of the 67th ward — as Ignite Philly crew members fumbled to load his slideshow. But Steuer backs a public art policy that he hopes could rival Chicago’s Millennium Park, or something like it, he says. One might suspect the idea that a member of the mayor’s cabinet presented at Ignite was lost on most of the audience altogether.
Architect Greg La Vardera slammed the suburban McMansion and offered hope to potential builders with accessible and modern new home designs.
Audra Wolfe, Carrie Collins of Fabric Hors, Sarah Feidt of TerraMar, Nathan Solomon & Branimir Vasilic with their DIY money presentation, Amanda Dillon stepped in for Drew Olanoff of Blame Drew’s Cancer, Jason Marziani, Brian D. McTear of Weathervane Music, Jonny Goldstein, Shannon Pelcher of Music & Mentorship, and Justin Witman & Fraser Marshall, Masters of Industrial Design Students, UArts. More information is available at the Ignite Philly site.
Our slideshow from the evening is below.
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