Admit it: There's some sort of subject that you're especially obsessed with or have a tendency to nerd out over. And if that's the case, you ain't alone. As Ignite Phoenix founder Jeff Moriarty puts it, most folks are passionate about something, even if they're afraid to discuss it or feel it's too trivial. It isn't. Fact is, he believes it should be shared with the world.
"Everyone has a passion. I think it's one of the things that keep us going. We work jobs we may not love, deal with banks and bills and laws and stress, but there's always something that makes it all worthwhile, that let's us escape," Moriarty says. "And when you share what you really love, what really geeks you out, that connects you with [other] people."
Such is the M.O. behind Ignite Phoenix, the ongoing presentation event where local residents discuss the hobbies and interests they're crazy about in front of a crowd. The next edition takes place in October, and Moriarty and other organizers are still accepting submissions, but only until next Friday.
And there are a few other caveats, such as the fact that everyone only gets five minutes of stage time, as well as 20 slides, to discuss their topic. It not only adds to the rush of speaking in front of others, Moriarty says, but also requires participants to be short and snappy.
Besides keeping things concise, presenters also have to stay pretty clean, since stuff that's vulgar, lewd, or explicit is verboten. Ignite Phoenix is an all-ages event that's usually attended by many families, teens, and tweens. No one is allowed to attempt to sell anything as well.
Beyond those rules, Moriarty says, its pretty much open in terms of what people can talk about. And while organizers receive submissions for anything and everything, stuff that's are either outside the box or of an unusual or unique bent -- like such previously featured offbeat discussions as female bodybuilding or dealing with a zombie apocalypse -- tend to get noticed more. He says people should be themselves.
"It doesn't have to be weird or bizarre. But if what [excites] you is something a little off-base, then Ignite is made for you. We're your people," he says. "We've got enough platforms to share warm and fuzzy things. The best Ignite talks are ones that are concrete, and real, and more than a little unusual. Life coaches need not apply."
And if you're worried about having stage fright, Moriarty says that their crowds are pretty supportive and friendly.
"The Ignite audience is one of the best groups you could ever speak in front of. They know the speakers aren't pros, and they support the hell out of them," he says. "We've had people forget where they were, and our audience applauds and cheers and gets them back on their feet."
He also suggests that people should avoid "overthinking things" and just try to be themselves. If you need further advice, however, the Ignite Phoenix website also offers a list of tips and suggestions, albeit presented in tongue-in-cheek fashion.
"[My] advice for submitters: forget all the advice you've ever heard about crafting a message for your audience," Moriarty says. "This is the time to get selfish and share what you love, why you love it, and who cares what anybody else thinks."
As of this writing, more than 55 submissions have been made for Ignite Phoenix No. 15, which will take place on October 18 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The list of potential topics is quite...um, varied and includes such disparate things as roller derby, beekeeping, ninjas practicing parkour, the utter coolness of bow ties, learning how to trust in our often-cynical society, and being a karaoke superstar.
Moriarty expects a couple dozen more will be sent in by the deadline at midnight on Friday, September 13. Event organizers will then sift through the submissions week and announce who will fill the 18 slots available for Ignite Phoenix No. 15 by September 20.
He encourages anyone to take a shot and send in their submission, even if they don't think it's important enough.
"Lots of people think nobody else would care about their passion, or that they need to dress it up and have a 'reason' for it. That's ridiculous," he says. "If you really love a thing, taking the audience inside that is what Ignite's all about."
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Vintage Phoenix guru Marshall Shore, also known as the "Hip Historian," gave a presentation concerning the history of neon lights in the Valley at Ignite No. 13 last year and later discussed in a video clip why participating in the event and sharing stories is so important.
"There's so many amazing stories in this Valley that if we don't keep them alive, they're going to wind up under asphalt," Shore stated.
Ignite Phoenix No. 15 takes place on October 18, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $15 and will be available on September 28.