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Ignite Phoenix 8: Entertained and Enlightened on a Friday Night

photo by Ashley Naftule
Jason Silberschlag, of Cartel Coffee Lab, presents "Building a desert compound impregnable by the Federal Government".
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If the eighth installment of

Ignite Phoenix

that happened last Friday at the

Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts

wasn't outright the most entertaining and diverse Ignite Phoenix event yet, it would definitely be in the running for second place.

A quick rundown: Eighteen presenters each had five minutes to share their passions, ranging from love of Barbara Streisand and donuts to observations of airport city codes and Polynesian pop culture -- all in front of a packed theater. And with a few exceptions (of course), the speakers were charming, eloquent, and interesting.

Our full observations are after the jump ...

Courtesy of Ignite Phoenix
Ignite No. 9's T-shirt was designed by Jenny North of Yeager North Creative Marketing

For those unfamiliar with Ignite, the best way to sum the event up would be to take Jean-Luc Godard's famous quote: "The cinema is truth 24 frames-per-second" and rephrase it as "Passion is 20 slides-every-15-seconds." Past presentations have touched on tarot cards, "The Transformers", office coffee, and on being left-handed.

A few of the earlier presentations on story-telling and sustainable travel were a bit rough to watch; while the subject matter was interesting, the speakers seemed a little ill at ease onstage. But as the night went on most of the presenters proved to be engaging speakers.

There were also two invited speakers (a first for Ignite, as usually speakers must apply): Kimber Lanning, of Local First Arizona, talked about the benefits and necessity of buying local, while Jason Silberschlag, of Cartel Coffee Lab, discussed how to go about building an underground desert compound on hand-drawn, coffee-stained slides.

Some of the more impressive presentations dealt with raising children with autism, the oddly hilarious world of airport city codes (the code for Port Antonio, Jamaica: POT; seriously), and how your mini-fridge could kill you in your sleep. A few presentations made us long to hear more, like Brandon Franklin's "Year Of Music" that put forth the notion that all humans are capable of being musicians -- most people just choose different life paths.

Photo courtesy of Ignite Phoenix, by Jason Garcia

The show was divided into two sets of speakers, with a half-hour intermission as well as a round of Ignite Karaoke (where three audience members come onstage and do an improvised presentation, reacting to slides they haven't seen before). The programs for Ignite No. 8 were tucked inside CD compilations of local music, featuring acts like the Whisperlights and Black Carl. Live bands played in the lobby, and in a nearby theater room they had a video confessional booth set up where folks could talk about their feelings about the show and about their own personal passions.

The Piper Theater was a good fit for the event in most respects, though the theater had terrible cell phone reception and we heard grousing about the WI-FI from quite a few folks -- two technical complaints that can be very problematic when you consider that many Ignite presenters and attendees are tech-happy, social media-savvy nerds that like to Tweet every 10 seconds (something that we happen to be guilty of as well). After all, part of the joy of Ignite is sifting through a mountain of #ignitephx Twitter hashtags as the night goes on.

Courtesy of Ignite Phoenix

Ignite is now taking submissions for Ignite No. 9 that will be happening at the same venue on February 11, 2011. Event coordinators also announced that Ignite Phoenix will be accepting submissions for a new adult version of Ignite (free of the family friendly restrictions and considerations that Ignite Phoenix uses when they pick their presentations) called Ignite After Hours that will be taking place at the Ballroom in Scottsdale on Friday, December 3rd.

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