Maybe it’s because the dust of sweethearts and candy wrappers is still in the post-Valentine’s Day air, but Ignite Philly 9 had a lot to do with love: romantic love, programming love, neighborhood love, tough love, and love for Ignite Philly, which celebrates its 10th birthday at its next iteration.
During intermission, this year’s Code for America fellows, Michelle Lee, Liz Hunt and Alex Yule, took the stage with Jeff Friedman of the Mayor’s office and all told the crowd the reason why they love Philly had to do with its people.
“I love Philly because the people who live here love it,” Yule said. “People really love the city and they want to make it a better place.”
Then, longtime organizers Geoff DiMasi, David Clayton and Dana Vachon showed some financial love to Kim Jordon of thePhiladelphia Orchard Project — she spoke at Ignite 6 — with a $1,000 check. Jordan told the crowd that the money would go toward planting more trees to make the city more beautiful and grow more food.
As in the past, the ninth rendition of the popular event featured a wide array of topics celebrating Philadelphia — just three, at best, were directly tech related. The two-hour event, which crowded Johnny Brenda’s, did sell out, though the audience in attendance numbered closer to 150 or so.
Below we show a little recognition love with a few prestigious awards, including Most “Awww” Factor, Most Inspiring, the Eye Popper Award and Best Self Help Advice.
The award goes to Yasmine Mustafa, who recently exited her small development shop, for her talk on bringing GirlDevelopIt to Philadelphia this past September. After trying to launch a startup with no programming experience, Mustafa said, she wanted to learn how to code.
“I thought that development was magical work,” she said.
When she discovered GirlDevelopIt, an organization launched in New York by Sara Chipps and Vanessa Hurst, she went to check it out. Since bringing the female-oriented programming classes to Philadelphia, over 100 students have attended class, Mustafa said. It’s empowering to learn how to code, she told the crowd.
“Program or be programmed,” Mustafa said.
Most “Awwwww” Factor
A clear nod needs to go to Ignite’s first speaker, Keya Dannenbaum, from ElextNext. She told a heartwarming “Un-Valentine’s Day” personal story set near San Francisco about a magical Sausalito dinner she shared with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) and an older couple, inspired by the strength of the younger duo’s bond, that anonymously picked up their check in order to share a heartfelt message.
It seemed much of the audience was offering a collective awww at the love story, though this reporter seemed most taken by the mention of hiking in the Marin headlands at sunset — old habits die hard. Either way, props to Dannenbaum for all-around “awww” factor.
The night’s last speaker, Varissa McMickens of ArtsRising, wrapped up the night with verve and passion for promoting youth arts education. McMickens asked everyone to shut their eyes and remember the time when you first realized you were creative and could contribute something to the world.
“What if that moment never happened?” she said. She told the crowd that should never happen to any of the city’s youth.
ArtsRising advocates for youth arts education in Philadelphia and has reached about 7,000 Philadelphia youth, according to the Ignite Philly hosts.
The Eye-Popper Award
This award goes to Andrew Simonet for his whole presentation, “This House is a Mystery,” but specifically for his introspective look at the homes of people who post naked shots of themselves online.
It may sound R-rated, but Simonet showed slides of images in which he’d removed the naked bodies to leave only white negative space, freeing the viewers’ eyes to focus on the homes these people live in.
Simonet hit directly on the usually suppressed fascination many people have with the inside of other people’s homes.
Best Self-Help Advice
Pam Selle, an Indy Hall member and instructor for GirlDevelopIt, had some hard truths to share with the overachieving Ignite Philly crowd.
“You’re a factor of production,” Selle said. “Go the fuck home.”
Selle reminded everyone that no one — employers or workers — wins from working overtime.
That’s life advice anyone could stand to hear.
Comedian and graphic artist Doogie Horner was a fix to get laughs, so there was no surprise when his deadpan style took on some of his historic steps in Internet usage.
1. Keya Dannenbaum – An Un-Valentine’s Story
2. Simon Kim of University of Pennsylvania on the combination of robotics and architecture
3. Dave Martorana – “Three revolutions of the information age”
4. Doogie Horner – “South Pole”
5. Emaleigh and Aine Doley – “West Rockland St.”
6. Alex Doty – Bicycle Coalition
7. Diana Lind – ‘Bury I-95’, which deserves some credit for following her TEDx talk on the same topic and catching Inga Saffron’s attention.
8. INTERMISSION: Code for America fellows say why they love Philly; Ignite Philly money goes to Kim Jordan of the Philadelphia Orchard Project.
9. Jessica Moore – Philly CowShare
10. Tim Bennett – Bennett Compost
11. Darla and Jim – Philadelphia Sculpture Gym
12. Yasmine Mustafa – GirlDevelopIt
13. Pam Selle – “Go the Fuck Home”
14. Andrew Simonet – “This House is a Mystery”
15. Varissa McMickens – ArtsRising
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