Ignite Phoenix 7: What We Liked and What We Could Have Done Without

Maybe you were watching for the World Cup. Maybe you were preparing for a day of drunken debauchery on the Salt River. It doesn't matter, you missed Ignite Phoenix 7: the Valley's presentation series that gives 18 people 5 minutes and 20 power point slides to share their passions with the world.

Since its inception, Ignite's prime function has been too inspire people to get off their duffs and get involved with some of the cool things their peers are doing around town. Ignite 7 did just that with presentation topics ranging from "The Art of Cycling" to "The Art of Winning the Nobel Peace Prize." But there was a lot more to Ignite 7 than just the topics. See what was new and what we liked after the jump.

Liked: The new venue. Tempe Center for the Arts was home to Ignite Phoenix 4 and 5. Ignite Phoenix 6 went down at Mesa Center for the Arts. Both had their pros and cons, but we'd definitely prefer to see Ignite 8 right back at the Phoenix Art Museum. Watching presentations surrounded by wall art installations elevated the event to a brand new level of cool.

Liked: All the extras. Ignite encourages the audience and the presenters to mingle over drinks during intermission and at the after party. In addition to a bar, Ignite Phoenix 7 featured a free performance by the Haymarket Squares and a buffet line from Joe's Real BBQ for $10. Trust us when we say we can be inspired while munching down a pulled pork sandwich.

Liked: Presenters had designated spots in the halls of Phoenix Art Museum to set up and talk to the crowd after the show. Not having to track down that presenter who talked about Tarot cards or the one who studies movie poster art made it much easier to engage with the presenters.

Liked: Bryan Mok's "The Art of Bastardizing Culinary Traditions" because he taught us how to make fusion cuisine without actually cooking anything. We also liked Stephanie Horn's "The Art of Talking to Strangers" because she is so passionate that we may just talk to 3,000 strangers. "The Art of Bad Writing" by Sara Dobie was great because she's convinced us to stay away from ellipses...for now. We really enjoyed "The Art of Videogames, as illustrated by Shadow of the Colossus" by Adam 'Pi' Burch because he showed hundreds of people that Video Games are more than just a never-ending barrage of bullets and violence.

Disliked: The theme. We're really nitpicking here, but because of the theme we were expecting a series of how-to presentations. Instead, we got the usual Ignite Phoenix presentations with "the art of" tacked on to them. Sara Dobie, for example, passionately wants people to stop writing like idiots. That's not so much an art as an ultimatum.

Disliked: The chairs. Not to pull a Kevin Smith here, but the chairs were stacked very close together. We also missed the stadium seating from Mesa Arts and the TCA simply because it was easier to see the slides. At Phoenix Art Museum, the audience was confined to one level which meant bobbing and weaving to see around the attendees in front of you. 

Do you have a passion you'd like to declare to the world? Now's the time to submit your presentation idea for Ignite 8.

Full Disclosure: Jonathan McNamara presented at Ignite Phoenix 5.

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Jonathan McNamara