Okay, before I begin, I didn’t attend Ignite 3.0. I did make it to 2.0, so I know what it’s about: I support it whole heartedly. It is part of this larger movement, I’ll call it the #LoveLansing movement, that we have been engaging in the past couple of years. This group of people who love tweetups, happy hour, and breakfast. Who champion community, smart ideas, and supporting local business. Ignite is made up of this community, and today, Ignite got some bad press.
We all read John Schneider’s blog post about Ignite Lansing 3.0. We all agree that John Schneider didn’t get it, and he didn’t get it in a very nice way. We also know that what happens at Ignite (and after Ignite) is incredibly important, and good, for a number of reasons (see above link and comments…thanks @aribadler for a great post). But this is a big moment for our community of #LoveLansing-ers. It’s big because the noise we’ve been making is starting to be heard. John Schneider came to see what the commotion was about, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, he didn’t get it. We can poo-poo him as some old fuddy-duddy who doesn’t get it and won’t get it. Or, we can ask ourselves a much more important, reflexive, and constructive question:
Why didn’t he get it?
What is it about our community that John Schneider missed? What wasn’t made clear to him? And even more importantly, how do we make it clear next time? These are important questions because, in Lansing, John Schneider is someone you want on your side, because people in Lansing have been reading his column every morning for a long, long time. They trust him and his opinion, and this movement should want their trust as well, because it’s trying to revive a city. And a city is hard to revive when the majority of people in and around the city think our bright idea is a 5-minute presentation, and miss the fact that the bright idea was the whole event itself: the process of a community doing, creating, and sharing something together.
So, we have two choices: blow off John Schneider and dismiss him as a boomer who “just doesn’t understand”, or call him up. Personally invite him to the next one. Give him an inside pass so he can watch (and report on) the whole process from start to finish. Tell him when the next TweetUp is, or breakfast club. Why not ask him to be part of the planning committee for the next Ignite? Engage with him and the community he represents. Learn from him what sort of message will ignite their fire, and bring their ideas to Lansing, so that we can all be a part of this movement together.
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