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Women own IgnitePhilly9, Philadelphia Orchard Project wins $1,000

Like some kind of sustainable Vaudeville act, a giant check made out to The Philadelphia Orchard Project danced past Paul Kimport, co-owner of Johnny Brenda's, where Ignite Philly 9 was underway last Thursday. The Ignite 6 winner received $1,000 for its urban fruit tree initiative.
 
There are a few truly key vantage points with good sight lines to the stage at JB's, and Kimport stood at one of the best, with a view of the entire area. To the right, bathed in the blue light of a photo booth, speaker Yasmine Mustafa practiced her talk about bringing GirlDevelopIt to Philadelphia. Straight ahead, past the attentive bartenders, Jessica Moore was onstage talking about her startup, Philadelphia Cow Share.
 
This was one of the best Ignite Phillys we've done," says co-organizer Dana Vachon. "The speakers were diverse. The crowd was diverse. It was awesome! It's always exciting to see a couple hundred people get so excited about the good things in our city."

Co-organizer Geoff DiMasi adds, "I am really proud of the diversity of speakers. Some cities make Ignite into a tech and start-up event while ours is a celebration of the city."
 
Perhaps the most mind blowing moment came at the top of the program. Keya Dannenbaum, founder of ElectNext, opened IgnitePhilly not with a talk about politics or civics, as expected. In five minutes, with very simply illustrated slides, Dannenbaum brought the house to tears with a story about a bridge, a note, and a great love.
 
"I was pretty nervous since it was so personal, and I knew the expectation would be something different because, one, I'm always talking about ElectNext and two, because I felt that it would be more typical of an Ignite event to speak to a specific accomplishment directly relatable to Philadelphia," says Dannenbaum, who had absolutely no idea what the response would be. She'd only ever told the story once before, at her wedding. "I ultimately decided to tell it because I just really, really love that story." She intentionally left out all mention of ElectNext, which continues to grow from its headquarters at PMN's Project Liberty.
 
It was a night that went to the women. Pam Selle's speech, entitled Go the Fuck Home, was about finding a balance between work and life, and received dozens of twitter and real life accolades. Mustafa, who turns 30 this week, won for Best Overall presentation. Sisters Emaleigh and Aine Doley talked about their grassroots neighborhood renewal work in Germantown. Diana Lind of The Next American City asked us to consider blowing up Interstate 95, for real. 
 
Some pretty sharp guys also took the stage, like the Bicycle Coalition's Alex Doty, up and coming stand up comic Doogie Horner, the brilliant Dave Martorana, Tim Bennett of Bennett Compost, as well as Jeff Friedman and the Code for America fellows, who are in residence here this month. 
 
While  DiMasi could not get over the fact that he's already organized nine Ignites (when he can still recall creating the first) the packed room begged for Ignite 10. Says Vachon, "So far, we do not have a date for Ignite 10, probably sometime in the late spring."

As far as rumors of moving to a larger venue? Not true. "We love the venue and while we would love to accommodate more people, we think the impact of an intimate sold out event is perfect for now," replies DiMasi.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, ElectNext, Dana Vachon, Ignite Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan
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