Sunday, April 21, 2013

One Spark Is All It Takes To Fire The Imagination

I don't believe I have ever been more proud of my hometown than I am this weekend.  Well... maybe I was more proud on the day the mayor announced a program to spend $300 million acquiring preservation properties which made the city's park system the largest in the nation, but this weekend runs it a close second.  What, you might ask, could have happened to make the cynical old Mr. C beam with such civic pride?  Someone in our fair city dreamed up and brought to reality the niftiest festival I have ever attended.

It's called One Spark and the whole idea is to create a giant crowd source spark of encouragement and outright cash to creators for their projects.  Everyone from artists to musicians to inventors to entrepreneurs to educators to scientists to adventurers set up display booths throughout the downtown area and hawked their idea and talent to thousands of people who passed by.  Displays lined the streets and could be found in every nook and crannie of nearly every building in the downtown area.  It was frigging fantastic!

  The idea was that we, the public, registered to vote, either by cell, web, or on-site, and as we saw projects that we particularly liked, you voted for it.  In my case, I used my cell so I simply had to text the number of the project to One Spark headquarters.  The top 10 vote getters will split a $250,000 cash prize to help them fund their idea.  Additionally, our new NFL team owner, Shad Khan, a billionaire Pakistani immigrant who made a fortune off of auto parts, put up a $1 million match for anyone who contributes hard cash to any of the start-up projects.  Additionally, Khan has a group of investors who will look critically at any good idea that comes along.  There's no telling how far this thing can go.

Unfortunately, Saturday morning dawned cold and wet so the day I had planned to take my camera to the party was ruined, but I did take some shots with my iPhone to share with you.

I love art in public places and the Great Big Picture project placed neat stuff all over town.
Music everywhere.  Five outdoor stages and music in every club and restaurant.  Most of the musicians were looking for money to fund their first CD or tour.  These guys were playing a sort of jazz-reggae-rock jam that so reminded me of the very early days when the Allman Brothers used to jam in the park.  Note the drum kit.  Way cool.
Whimsy everywhere.  Hoola hoopers, belly dancers, Star Wars invaders.
A vendor promoting sustainable, urban agriculture.  They simply wanted to expose the idea to everyone.
A vendor hawking cold brew coffee that somehow comes out hot.  They were looking for seed money for marketing.
A 20'x80' wall of photos of people who "make a difference".   Mr. C made the wall (circled) as an environmentalist and non-profit grant writer.  Don't ask me what the dog did.
One of my favorite projects and one I voted for;  an artist who wants to paint 20 murals in one year throughout the city.  The kind of shot in the arm many downtowns need.
This is the most excited I have been about an urban event in years and I can clearly see how this thing can become huge.  The promoters are talking New Orleans Heritage Festival, South x Southwest huge.  It wouldn't surprise me at all.  In fact, I'll be surprised if it isn't twice as large next year.  Check it out, HERE.


  1. This sounds like a great event! I was going to ask if this was a one-time event or an annual occurrence, and then your last sentence answered my question.

    One of my friends, Michael McArthur, a musician from Lakeland, was there, too.

  2. That's really cool. I hope it's twice as large next year. This is the kind of thing we need more of.

  3. Totally awesome, wish South Carolina had that much foresight.

  4. Another good thing about this idea is that it brings so many people together, which has to be perfect for furthering understanding and tolerance.

  5. Very cool to put some joy and hope into the urban jungle! I am somewhat pleasantly surprised and relieved that they didn't use the portrait of you from the Post Office.

  6. I love outdoor festivals, especially ones centered on art and environmentalism. And that frog mural is fantastic.

  7. Glad to see you made the wall - although I'm not a bit surprised.


Sorry about the comment thingy folks. Too much spam.