Once inside the majestic Engineer’s Club for the live streaming of Ignite , I doffed my monsoon apparel and headed for the bar. On my way I reconnected with an acquaintance from undergrad. Then, in line I chatted it up with a few brand new friends. Even while in my seat I managed to exchange some witty repartee with the women sitting behind me. It is easy to see why #6Ignite Baltimore took home a City Paper Best of Baltimore Award for “Best Nerd’s Night Out” in 2009. Everyone is there to meet people and revel in the new ideas and concepts being presented.
At every Ignite, 16 artists, technologists, thinkers, and personalities take the stage to voice their point of view in 5 minutes with 20 slides. Their goal is “to spark new conversations and collaborations across cultures and disciplines.” Everything from the humorous, like Heather Holland’s Why I Don’t Want Children (or, How My Uterus Became a Shriveled Walnut); to the emotional, Ellen Cherry’s Hard Times: Great Depression vs. ‘Great Recession’; to the controversial, Major Neill Franklin’s Cops Say Legalize Drugs: Ask Me Why or Why Baltimore City Needs a Socially Liberal Republican Mayor from Keith Scott, came to the forefront last night at Ignite Baltimore’s sixth event.
It is clear to me that Baltimore’s creative class is bringing their “A” game to the field these days. With City Paper giving Best of Baltimore awards to The Cabaret at Germano’s, Everyman Theatre, and Brian Sacawa/Mobtown Modern the entire city is starting to realize it too. Baltimore is the type of city that inspires underdogs. We are the entrepreneurs of the Mid-Atlantic. We’re not New York or Silicon Valley, but we are certainly not the middle of nowhere. Baltimore is coming to realize it has creative power and influence. With the addition of the Ignition Grants, purses of $1500 for “new, innovative projects to help improve the quality of life in Baltimore within a six month timeframe,” the creative class is showing their monetary support for Baltimore’s pioneering spirit.
And although the Silicon Valley model comes up again and again, particularly among younger people who are more mobile, [Dave Troy, founder of Social Devcamp East] emphasizes that transforming Baltimore’s tech culture into a clone of Valley culture is the wrong way to go.
“There was a really good tweet this morning from a friend up at Philadelphia who runs a co-working space up there,” he said. “It was ‘Why do cities want to be like Silicon Valley? They should instead try to be themselves, but with less suck.’ That’s spot-on. We’re never going to be Silicon Valley. We can just be ourselves, but with less suck.” – from Martin L. Johnson’s City Paper Article “The Wired” 2009.
After my nerd’s night out last night, I am more convinced that Baltimore is on the right path to “less suck.” I am very excited for what this means to the music/opera scene in Bmore. Unfortunately, I missed Brian Sacawa giving his presentation Hybridity: Remaking the (New) Musical Horizon in Baltimore and Brendan Cooke’s Saving Opera, One Voice at a Time at Ignite Baltimore #5. (Maybe they will let me re-post here?… Worth a shot.)
What would you talk about in your five minutes plus twenty slides? Would it be music related? Leave it in the comments below.
- Two Great Baltimore Gardens Revealed (sustainable-gardening.com)
- Cities in Flux: From D.C. to Baltimore (thecityfix.com)
- Baltimore Can Do It (slog.thestranger.com)
- WordCamp Mid-Atlantic: Where It’s Been, Where It’s Going (technosailor.aaronbrazell.com)