It’s unfortunate that the only exposure some people in the mid-Michigan media market will have to Ignite Lansing 3.0 is a poor review on a blog post by Lansing State Journal columnist John Schneider.
I’m not sure exactly what Schneider was expecting and, I’d agree with his point that some of the promotional activities for this round of Ignite may have over-promised on the total package. But to give a scathing review after only staying for one-third of the event isn’t fair.
I bring a unique perspective to this discussion. I was one of the winners of Ignite Lansing 1.0 with my presentation about the characters you meet on Twitter. At Ignite 2.0, my wife, Jessi, and I presented “How to Survive Planning a Wedding.” We didn’t win, but we had a blast. I submitted a presentation for Ignite 3.0 but was asked to step aside so that folks who had never presented had a chance. Still, I remained involved in the planning committee in a small way by assisting with media promotion. I had my doubts about the event being over-produced, that it might be getting away from its core mission by adding in so many extras. But in the end, I attended Ignite 3.0 and saw something very different from Schneider. This is what he saw:
…we entered a Knapps Office Centre filled with some kind of fog and a throbbing crowd of young, hip-looking young folks holding bottles of beer.The emcee told Lansing’s hipperati that the Lansing they were about to see in the presentations was not their parents’ Lansing; he didn’t say it would be, instead, their grandparents’ Lansing.
What I saw was an interesting laser-light show, a powerful sound system and exciting entertainment bringing life to a building long-ago abandoned by the movers and shakers Schneider usually pays homage to. I saw a community of people joining together to celebrate networking, entertainment and the chutzpah it takes to get on stage and make a presentation in front of a crowd of more than 600 people. (Ignite Lansing 1.0 had an attendance of more than 200, so you can see it has grown exponentially in less than a year.)
I saw a high-tech voting system and webcasting of the event to hundreds of people who couldn’t get in because all the free tickets were snatched up within 24 hours. Let me stress a point here: this event is free. A big reason it’s free is because of the tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, supplies and labor donated by area businesses and community members. It’s free because the Michigan Brewing Company stepped up and helped with alcohol costs. It’s free because Cravings Popcorn is committed to being a part of this community and provided a huge popcorn bar without charge. It’s free because of all the other sponsors listed here. And it’s free because the Eyde Company opened the Knapp Center to a group of young community members who have a vision and the backbone to lead this region some day to where their parents could not.
Schneider said he was disappointed because the emcee didn’t tell him he would see “his grandparents’ Lansing.” Well, if our grandparents’ Lansing is one filled with hope, creativity, compassion, passion and raw talent, then that’s the kind of Lansing I hope we see every day.
As Jessi and I were leaving the Ignite after-party at MBC, we both commented how alive Lansing still was at close to midnight. I told her “it felt like a city,” and that’s something we haven’t felt downtown for a long time.
What I also saw that night was a news organization that cares about finding good things in its local community and offering a positive story about it. So a tip of my hat goes to TV 6 for coming to the event and producing a positive piece about it, which you can see here.
I haven’t heard if there’s going to be an Ignite Lansing 4.0. But if there is, I hope John Schneider and any other doubters get involved as more than Monday morning quarterbacks. But even if they don’t, it won’t matter. The next generation will not sit idly by and wonder what Lansing could be when they know they have the ability to make Lansing what they want it to be.
3, 2, 1…ignition.