Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ignite Festival 2015 - A Lesson in How to Hold a Conference

My last post about the 2016 Launch Party made me want to travel back in time for a little bit and write about the Ignite Edmonton Festival. I know it was over a year ago, but it remains to this day the best damn festival/conference/event or whatever you want to call it, in terms of organization, inspiration and beauty. Ignite was held Sept 9-10, 2015 and it brought together entrepreneurs, thought leaders, creative types, and change-makers from across Edmonton. Edmonton Economic Development put it on, and they did a mighty fine job! 

There were main stage sessions with some big names like Nir Eyal who talked about how to "hook" people on a product, and Jane McGonigal who talked about the importance of games. There were also lots of workshops on everything from community building to crowdfunding, and it was super cool to listen to people like Andrew Ference and Karen Unland, who both work hard to make Edmonton a better place. 

Before it was called Ignite, the same festival existed as E-town, and it was super cool as well, with lots of interesting speakers (my life was changed by listening to Peter Diamandis talk about the future and abundance) and dynamic musicians. The E-Town version of the event had live music in the evening (Barenaked Ladies one year and Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk the next), while the Ignite version had networking and drinks instead. Although I love a live musical performance, the networking was actually better, as I made tons of connections, including meeting my boyfriend. It's too hard to talk to strangers with a band playing, and so some drinks and lounge music is better suited to encouraging people to meet one another.

The sad news is that this event has ended, likely due to the economic downturn. I do hope that organizers realize how valuable and wonderful it was. Heck, even the "break out rooms" were carefully designed by locals, and the results were fabulous. Take a look at these gems, and you will see the Shaw Conference Centre looking the best I've ever seen it!

I truly hope that if the economy picks up, this fabulous conference re-IGNITEs itself, as it was my fave festival and I've learned so much from it. I still follow Peter Diamandis, Tom Peters, Bruce Croxon, and Chris Hadfield (they even had Canada's most famous astronaut here!) on Twitter. I think thought stimulating and inspiring conferences with an inter-disciplinary twist are exactly what Edmonton needs. I never really expressed my gratitude for these three events, and then they were gone. So while it's a bit late - I just want to say, "I love you E-town and Ignite." Thanks EEDC!

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