We are prepared, concise, and visual. We are Ignite Bainbridge.

After months of prep and hours of what felt like near-chaos, the performance Tuesday night was pure relief and delight. It was the second time our Bainbridge community had put on our own local flavor of the international trend called “Ignite”—a high-energy evening listening to many inspirational 5-minute talks, each accompanied by 20 slides. Ignite speakers need to be prepared, concise, and visual with their presentation, but not necessarily experienced or comfortable in their role. That’s what I love about Ignite—it’s a big challenge, but achievable if we care enough about what we want to share.

Leigh Calvez at Ignite Bainbridge 2

So who is Ignite Bainbridge? How does it get done? How is it changing? Our first Ignite a year ago was inspired by Beth Robson, who introduced the idea, guided the volunteers, and was our first emcee. It was amazing: 14 presentations, 150+ attendees, some essential sponsorships that kept costs down, an enthusiastic crowd at the mixers before and after the event, and videos on YouTube for each speaker by island filmmaker Steve Stolee.

For this year, we wanted to lock in a culture of community support for return performances. I think we made progress! Over 210 attendees, 16 presentations, new volunteers and sponsors, and stories in the local papers to promote the event. Alex Sanso set the tone with some beautiful updated designs for our materials. Lynn Smith, Karen Hallis, and Leigh Calvez were three volunteers who came to so many weekly meetings in the past couple months to manage promotion, food, ticketing and more. Bhama Roget, a dangerously funny frequent flier with the Edge Improv hosted the stage as our Emcee.

Chiara Patricio at Ignite Bainbridge 2

Many of the night’s speakers evolved their talks dramatically over the four months of Tom Leurquin’s weekly workshops, reformulating their stories in response to coaching and feedback. I was so impressed with the overall preparedness and quality as a result. And dedication like Tom’s is rare.

One talk from the night that blew me away was by Chiara Patricio, titled “Coal: Counting the cost.” Now many of you know that Chiara is a high school senior, so it would be safe and expected to offer kudos to a precocious and courageous student. But that doesn’t begin to do her justice. Her poise, preparedness, and story-telling skills ranked somewhere near the top of the night. I hope that our future Ignites always  have students with important stories to tell, and Chiara has set the bar high.

The 'X band', a jam band of Xpat coworkersIgnite Bainbridge is all of us listed here and many more. Managing the next Ignite, whether a year from now or ambitiously sooner, will hopefully be easier as we continue to build the infrastructure. This year we created the newsletter and ramped up the social media. This year we built web content that showcased alumni videos and the international Ignite trend, promoted the workshops, and thanked our sponsors. This year the slides advanced flawlessly. This year we hung a big banner in the Pavilion. This year a jam band joined the fun after the event. Join us as we discover… what’s next?