Ignite Phoenix 8

Ignite Phoenix 8 was last week, October 15, 2010 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The volunteer-organized event has grown from a 2-person team putting on an event in a 100-person capacity office/classroom to being a committee of passionate volunteers orchestrating an 800-person theatrical experience with a professional stage crew.

The content hasn’t changed, though. It’s still 5-minute lightning talks by regular people who want to share what they’re passionate about. There are still talks by people I know, shedding light on aspects of their lives I was unaware of (to people who don’t know them, they’re just fascinating talks). There are still talks that give you chills. There are still talks that cause an uproar of laughter. There are even still talks that break the rules (in a boo-hiss way).

At this Ignite, there were several stellar talks. I have two favorites.

“Surprise! Your child has autism. Now what?” I’d met Jim St. Leger and his son, the subject of Jim’s Ignite talk. They came to Gangplank and participated in hardware/circuitry meet-ups, where Jim’s son amazed everyone with his knowledge of electrical components. Jim gave an amazing talk about discovering his son had autism and the impact it had on his family. The word “impact” coming after “autism” sounds scary and negative. Autism isn’t necessarily a handicap. Sure, it comes with challenges, but it also comes with strengths. Don’t fear being different. Embrace it. Autism and Aspergers can be assets for certain lines of work.

“The Year of Music.” Brandon Franklin is a friend of mine, and he talked about changes in his life that I was lucky enough to witness. Brandon was inspired by an Ignite presentation about Taiko (Japanese drum). Brandon had abandoned one of his passions, music, in order to pursue work in technology. Not long after that Ignite, and hearing Brandon say, “That’s it, I’m going to take a Taiko class,” I saw him change his Facebook profile picture to one of him in class, striking a Taiko drum. He wasn’t just saying it. He also went on to co-found Desert Bloom Phoenix, a music & art event that has already been put on 3 times. Brandon also formed a band with Nicholas DiBiase, called Rocketship. Music is back in Brandon’s life in a big way, and the Ignite audience got to hear a 5 minute version of his year of change.

Not all the talks were so deep. There were some excellent, fun, and entertaining talks about stuff like beer, donuts, and building a desert compound impenetrable by the federal government. You know, the usual.

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