Ignite Memphis Doubling Event Capacity

By Andy Meek

Ignite Memphis, an event at which Memphis creatives give a series of slide-based presentations on a range of diverse topics, sold out its gathering in November.

That’s why the next incarnation of Ignite is more than doubling its venue capacity by moving from Crosstown Arts to Playhouse on the Square, where 12 speakers next week will challenge, inform and perhaps inspire the crowd that’s come to hear them.

That’s the goal, anyway. What will definitely happen is the dozen Memphians participating in Ignite on April 8 will fire off 20 slides in five-minute, rapid-fire talks covering such topics as film, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Barbie, corporate America and Japanese media.

Undercurrent, which holds regular events around the city to help people connect with fellow Memphians, produces Ignite. Based on the national Ignite model created by O’Reilly Media, Ignite was first organized in Memphis by Start Co. and the New Memphis Institute in 2010.


“Since its beginnings in Memphis, Ignite has always emphasized the importance of creativity and innovation,” said Undercurrent founder Patrick Woods. “Ignite Memphis has become a catalyst for entrepreneurs, executives, nonprofit leaders and artists to get in a room together to be challenged and inspired. It’s where the people who are making things happen come to connect and learn.”

Ignite Memphis next week will be taking place in the midst of the Midtown Opera Festival, so tickets – which are $15 and include beer, wine and snacks – also include an opera festival discount code. The presenting sponsor is Launch Tennessee, and other sponsors include Start Co., Opera Memphis and the New Memphis Institute.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the event starts promptly at 7:30.

Speakers include Sarah Petschonek, founder of Volunteer Odyssey, who’ll be giving a presentation titled “Stop Trying To Change The World.”

It “focuses on the principles of goal setting and motivational theory as the platform for driving social change,” said Petschonek, who has been working to promote volunteerism across Memphis. “Ignite Memphis attracts community members intent on bettering themselves and bettering the world around them, which makes this event the perfect venue for sparking change.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Watt, co-founder of Paper Moon Films, is giving a talk about what his job as a movie producer entails.

“I’m presenting ‘What Does A Film Producer Do?’ to show what’s involved at each stage of making a film,” he said. “It’s a question that I’m often asked, and Ignite seems like a perfect forum. My favorite aspect is the wide variety of topics, (and) I know I’m going to learn a lot from the other presenters.”

Other Ignite speakers and their presentation titles include:

• Laurel Amatangelo, “Otaku: Geeking out on Japanese Media”

• Bryant Williams, “Tactical NeoFuturism”

• Theresa Gasinski, “Let's Move, Memphis!: Bicycle-Based Mass Transit”

• Chef Phillip Ashley Rix, “Chasing Willy Wonka: Leaving Corporate America in Search of the Ultimate Golden Ticket”

• Taylor Berger and Tommy Pacello, “Pre-Vitalization: A New Calculus for Redevelopment”

• Katrina Coleman, “Women Aren't Funny”

• Chris James, “The Memphis Symphony Orchestra - Reflecting the face of the Memphis Community”

• Mark Hackett, “Using Film To Move People To Action”

• Audrey Jones, “How Barbie Single Handedly Ruined The Image of Technology for Girls”

• Evan Katz, “Bridging the Gap”