How to ignite Philly (and drink some beer, too)

What would you get if Portland had a baby with New York?

Answer: Philadelphia.

I love that line. It was the tweet of the night last Thursday during Ignite Philly 7 at Johnny Brenda’s.

 OK, now I’ll translate that for the youth-impaired. A tweet is a message on the social media platform Twitter. Ignite Philly is a very cool celebration of dynamic things happening at the grass-roots in our town.

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 And Johnny Brenda’s is a bar in Fishtown with a little performance stage upstairs. At Ignite Philly, people take the stage to talk about ideas or projects that are making our city more organic and awesome (to quote the even’ts two favorite adjectives). Each speaker gets just five minutes, as their Powerpoint slides fly by on two big screens, relentlessly changing every 15 seconds.

 For speakers, it’s nerve-wracking. For the cheering crowd, packed in several hundred strong, it’s great, because no maundering narcissist can hog the mic and kill the buzz.

 If you’re still puzzling over the Portland/New York joke, that probably means you’re a) a Philly native over the age of 40 and/or b) a suburbanite whose view of the city takes the shape of the 11 o-clock chalk outlines on Action News.

 Let me cut to the chase: The point of the joke is that Philly is GREAT!  It combines Portland’s green, aerobic, crunchy vibe with a manageable dose of the Big Apple’s grit, scale and glamour.

 Some may struggle with this concept, but it is possible to fill a room on a cold winter night with people who actually think Philly is fantastic. Their only problem with the town is all the negative people who don’t see it that way.

 So they came to cheer Bryan McTear’s Ignite about Weathervane, his way-cool non-profit indie music studio, and many others, including Emerald Street Urban Farm, the central Delaware riverfront plan, and the Philly Science Festival. One guy gave a sweet talk about the blog he’s doing on the long-ago love letters of his Greatest Generation parents.


Among the folks quaffing craft brews and cheering speakers were Claire Robertson-Kraft and Michelle Freeman, who power a group called Young Involved Philadelphia.   They’ve got a new Twitter campaign to gather messages from people telling why they love Philly. To see some, plug #WhyIlovePhilly into your Twitter search bar..

Then, thus inspired by the words of others, tell the Twitterverse why you love Philly.

 Here’s Technically Philly’s account of Ignite Philly 7 and here’s the event site.

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