The Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise reached capacity on Thursday night with people eager to participate in Ignite Boise, a two-hour symposium that featured 14 speakers, all of whom gave five-minute speeches accompanied by 20 slides on a projector screen.
Every one of the 740 seats in the historic hall were filled, including the seats in the overhead balcony.
“We’ve all agreed to come here to discuss big ideas,” said Josh Gross during his presentation. Gross presented “Why Your Ignite Speech Sucks,” during which he suggested that Ignite was a public forum to share ideas rather than a gateway to business promotion.
In 2006, Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis initiated the original Ignite in Seattle. Since then, Ignite has spread to over 100 different
Ron Baker and Jeff Reynolds founded Ignite Boise with the help of four other board members in 2008. These volunteers work for free, but they find sponsors to fund the event itself. Due to sponsors, admission to Ignite was completely free.
Since 2008, Ignite has been held at the Egyptian Theatre twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Thursday’s event was the ninth Ignite event in Boise.
The purpose of Ignite in any city is to share innovative ideas with community members without solicitation or harassment.
“We need to have the voices of our community heard by the people in the community,” said James Gravatt, a Boise State student, during the last segment of his presentation.
Gravatt gave a speech entitled “A Very Potter Intro into Social Systems and What We Can Do with Them.”
Positive audience participation is a trademark of the world-wide event. Each speaker talks informally with the audience, like a discussion rather than a speech. These speakers feed off of the energy of the audience members who have no qualms with cheering, clapping and hooting whenever a speaker makes a poignant point.
For example, when Gravatt reached his climactic claim “We should love one another,” the audience agreed by erupting in applause. When stay-at-home dad, Michael Matson, made a side comment about keeping Big Bird on PBS, the audience members shouted their approval. And when Stephanie Walker revealed her father survived a motorcycle/semi truck collision, the audience cheered for her and her
Audience participation is a focal point of Ignite because without the audience, the purpose of Ignite would be null and void.
Every Ignite Boise has yielded more audience members than the one before and that trend is expected to continue. Boise’s next Ignite event will occur in April.
Ignite Boise 9 Presentations:
Brett Kennedy—“Sign Language”
Kennedy discussed panhandlers, or those who beg for money with cardboard signs, and why people should stop giving them the money they ask for. He validated this claim by stating that people should join a charity organization of their choice because it does more good than giving money to panhandlers.
Burke contested the use of rats as food for household pets like snakes. She discussed her work at a rat sanctuary and she explained why rats make excellent pets.
Erica Crockett—“Leave America, Come Back More Awesome”
Using her travel experience as an anecdote, Crockett discussed the benefits of extensive world travel, focusing on third world countries. She included information on how to attain a passport and how to get the courage to leave the United States.
James Gravatt—“A Very Potter Intro into Social Systems and What We Can Do with Them”
Harry Potter, being the most internationally known book aside from the Bible, was Gravatt’s basis for his speech on social systems. In Harry Potter, wizards are categorized based on blood purity (mudbloods, half-blood and pure bloods), and Gravatt compared this to categorization of people in society based on gender, sexuality and ethnicity. He then asserted that the solution to this segregation is love.
Jesse Baker—“Is That a Banana in Your Pocket or…?”
Baker taught the audience about the evolution of male genitalia and why it matters as far as natural selection in primates and in human beings.
Jonas Estefanos—“Cultural Learning Foreigners Have in America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of U.S. and A”
Estefanos discussed the variation of nonverbal communication in different parts of the world and the potentially offensive meanings this form of communication can have. For example, in some Middle Eastern countries, a casual thumbs-up can mean the same thing as flipping the middle finger.
Josh Gross—“Why Your Ignite Speech Sucks”
Gross declared some speeches unfit to be presented at Ignite Boise because he believed them to be too commercialized. He asserted Ignite should be a place to express ideas rather than to up-sell a person or a company. His speech caused a significant amount of controversy on Twitter.
Kathy Griesmyer—“When the Next American Idol Becomes U.S. President”
Griesmyer compared voting for American Idol contestants to voting for presidential candidates and urged people to vote in the general election on November 6. “ Nothing celebrates democracy more than people getting out and voting,” said Griesmyer.
Michael Matson—“A Stay at Home Dad in a Stay at Home Mom’s World”
Youth-group leader Michael Matson discussed the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home dad with his two young children. This included never being able to wear anything clean but also having the ability to be directly involved with his family.
Richard Newman—“Ain’t Nothin’ but My Hammer Suckin’ Wind”
Drawing from the children’s story, Newman talked about John Henry and the impact he had in terms of whether or not man can be more than “just a man.”
Ricky Lyman—“So You Want to Learn the Web Design?”
Lyman gave a brief history of web design, including examples of websites earlier this century compared to the more interactive, modern websites. He then discussed why web design is important to all people with Internet access.
Seth Ashley—“The Internet Will Set Us Free? New Media and Democracy”
Ashley, a Boise State professor and The Arbiter advisor, stressed the importance of using media and the responsibility that comes with using the Internet. He also gave a brief history of technology, including the reason for the organization of keys on a keyboard.
Seth Mortensen—“I Am Not Zach
Mortensen, who closely resembles celebrity Zach Galifinakis, suggested that being a celebrity look-alike isn’t always a good thing. He told the audience to think whether or not the comparison could be taken offensively and urged people to think before they speak.
Stephanie Walker—“A Road-Biker Story: My Gear Saved My Life”
Last October, Walker’s father was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a semi truck. The truck ran over his ankle twice and crushed his head. If he had not been wearing a helmet and a protective jacket, Walker’s father would have died. She discussed the importance of wearing protective gear during any ride on a motorcycle.