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Idea Week: Last Night's Spark Club
by Anne Bothwell 12 Oct 2010

Taking a shot at speed networking; gearing up for the rest of Idea Week


I’ve been to Spark Club meetings. Attended the Big Bang conference that Dallas Social Venture Partners put on earlier this year. But hadn’t tried the “speed networking” offered at every event. Until last night.

So we were on two floors of 511 Ackard St. One unfinished and unairconditioned area was for general conversation and displaying the ideas that came out of a sort of multiple flash mob Monday afternoon – little living rooms set up around town where people were asked what could be done to make Dallas a greener city, to make education more effective. Their ideas were posted around the room. What becomes of them? We’ll see as the week, and beyond, goes by.

One floor up was a comfy reception area with food (thank you Smoke) and wine and, on the terrace (!), the speed networking. A few minutes to tell your partner what you do; a few minutes to hear her story. And then, a gong sounds, and you do it all over again with another person.

I admit, I got off easy – my first few partners were people I know – the fundraiser for a charter school, the marketer for a food bank, the interpreter. But eventually, I wound up talking about Art&Seek to new folks. Which led to some interesting – and unexpected – connections:

  • A gal with a corporate day job who’s helping a friend start a dance company and convert it to a non-profit
  • Jared White, an architect with Architecture for Humanity. His name sounded familiar. Turns out it’s because Tina Aguilar, one of our guest bloggers, interviewed him last week. Duh.
  • And my favorite, a junior at Skyline High School who spent the summer studying environmental issues at SMU and the Audubon Center through a local program. He’s decided to form a group to empower students at his school to surface ideas for making their immediate world a better place. A few weeks into the school year, he’s found them very receptive; apparently, no one’s ever asked before. Now they’re creating a plan to choose the best and execute them. Let me tell you, this kid is gonna do it. He pitches like a pro, and I’m hoping he keeps in touch – like most juniors, he didn’t have a card to share.

Mingling later I ran into two artists/idea men who, I hope, will show up on Art&Seek in the future. And a guy I’d been emailing about donating supplies to Art&Seek’s Con Artist Gallery at Art Conspiracy. (I’m looking at you Jax, and thanks so much!) A financial planner who plays the piano. Sharon Lyle, the leader behind TEDxSMU and Idea Week. Sarah Jane Semrad (Art Conspiracy, La Reunion, etc.). Maria May and Christine Rogers, who’ve done the heavy lifting on getting the word out about Idea Week. And many others.

All of this was free. And not for the first time, or exclusive to TEDxSMU. One of my favorite things about North Texas is that, relative to other areas I’ve lived, it’s much easier to find people excited about new ideas, and possibly, just maybe, able to help you, in ways big and small, make them happen. Or at least enjoy hearing what they’re up to. We’ll tell you about the next Spark Club. Or you can just follow them here.

Meantime, here’s the Idea Week schedule. Next up for me: Pecha Kucha Wednesday at the Wyly, followed by Carrotmob at LaGrange. State of the Arts on Thursday. And so on.