Exploring the 8th Continent – Cindy Wu – Ignite Seattle 37

With a title like “Exploring the 8th Continent,” the geographically-inclined among us are certain to be interested. There are, after all, only seven continents. Right?

Not so, according to Cindy Wu. Cindy says there’s a mysterious continent below all of our feet: caves.

Stepping into a cave, according to Cindy, is like being an astronaut stepping onto the moon for the first time. In her talk, Cindy tells the story of her first time exploring a cave, and how our audience can safely explore caves themselves.

(Interested in exploring a cave? Here’s the website Cindy mentioned.)

photo by: Brady Harvey

Physician, Speak Thyself – Sam Blackman – Ignite Seattle 37

Sam Blackman started his professional life as a philosophy major, but the fact that he spent his nights reading medical journals might have been a clue to where his career would end up.

The thing in those journals which fascinated Sam? The case studies — stories with the (often gory) details of the treatment of a patient, in a narrative format.

In his Ignite talk, Sam explains why this sort of storytelling makes medicine work, makes a case for the humanity of medicine, and urges us not to lose track of storytelling as medicine increases its reliance on technology.

photo by: Brady Harvey

What Military Peacekeeping Taught Me About Humility – Urs Koenig – Ignite Seattle 37

Twenty-two years after completing mandatory military service — and approaching the age of fifty — Urs Koenig decided to enlist in the military peacekeeping force KFOR in Kosovo.

Many readers may be wondering, “Why does Kosovo need a peacekeeping force at all?” By the time he deployed, Urs thought he knew the answer. Until he watched a school play which made him reconsider not only what he knew about the war, but also the role of peace-keepers.

In his Ignite Seattle talk, Urs explains how his time as a military peacekeeper taught him to ask better questions, and how that can make us all a little more humble.

photo by: Brady Harvey

A Survival Guide for Black Millennial Single Mothers Striving to Slay – Sydney Swonigan – Ignite Seattle 37

“So who in here has absolutely just fucked up before?” That’s the question Sydney Swonigan started off with during her Ignite Seattle talk. (Judging from the audience reaction, the answer was: a lot of us.)

In her talk, Sydney discusses the time she fucked up: accidentally becoming pregnant shortly after graduating college. (“#whoops-a-daisy”) After years of striving to overcome the stereotypes placed on young black women, she found herself worried about becoming stuck in a negative narrative of a single black mother. She didn’t want to just survive, she wanted to slay.

In her talk, Sydney talks about her experience deciding not to choose between being a mother and a leader, owning her own story, and why there’s no better time than today to fuck up.

photo by: Brady Harvey

Juliet Wasn’t Dumb – Emma Broback – Ignite Seattle 37

With a single statement, “Juliet wasn’t dumb.” you know who Emma Broback is talking about. Her talk challenges popular misconceptions about one of Shakespeare’s most famous characters.

Far from the passive, reckless, dumb teenager we’re taught she was, Emma shows how Juliet was a strong, independent woman who was an intellectual equal – if not superior – to the other characters in the play.

Juliet had agency. She had wit. And if it wasn’t for Italy’s favorite “golden retriever of a boy”, Romeo, she would have had the world.

photo by: Brady Harvey

So You’re Black in Tech? – Rovina Broomfield – Ignite Seattle #37

After Rovina Broomfield moved from Chicago to Seattle to start working at a large tech company, she wanted to become part of the local community. As she’d meet people, though, many would start by expressing their surprise at, well, a black woman moving to Seattle and working in tech. One day, at a brunch, she heard another black woman in tech describe herself as a “unicorn,” and decided she’d had enough.

When we see someone who is, as Rovina puts it, “a rare, or an only”, she asks that we realize: they know they’re rare. They pushed through that and decided to act, despite having few role models. But throughout history, many people had to start as an “only.”

Instead of focusing on their uniqueness in our community, we need to focus on making them part of our community. Like a transplant who’s just moved to a new city, people who are rare need to feel welcome and cool, not rare and untouchable. So, you’re black in tech? As Rovina puts it, “let’s go from being transplants to being locals.”

photo by: Brady Harvey

Oceans and Robots and Volcanoes, Oh My! – Dana Manalang – Ignite Seattle 37

Let’s play a game called “Ocean or Land.” Which one covers more of the Earth’s surface? Where are there more volcanos? Where is there more plant life?

Dana Manalang usually plays this game with elementary school students, but the Ignite audience did a bang-up job answering those questions. While many know the answers, there are many questions about the ocean that no one knows the answer to.

Learn more about these questions, and how to get kids, and adults, excited about the ocean, in Dana’s talk, “Oceans and Robots and Volcanoes, Oh My!”