Ignite Portland 2 was one of the best nights of my life!

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to recover, here’s my recap post about Ignite Portland 2. It was, in short, one of the best nights of my life. It was so amazing to see how it all came together – the volunteers, the presenters, and the crowd. The crowd! We filled up the Bagdad – they had to cut people off at about 750, and we were so sorry to have to turn away about 150 people (from what I was told). Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist has done an incredible job of rounding up everyone’s take on the evening. Don’ t miss his roundup post.

The best moment of the night came when I was sitting in my seat, down in front, surrounded by people who had worked so hard to make this happen, and who had become good friends in the process. And we, in turn, were surrounded by all the amazing volunteers, speakers, and sponsors that made it even possible. And we were all in turn surrounded by a crowd of exited people, enjoying themselves in a very cool theater. It all just sank down on me right then, a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling. I realized that this was the coolest thing I have accomplished so far in my life. πŸ™‚

So, here are some photos and commentary of how the evening went, from my point of view. I was the first to arrive at the Bagdad, at about 3:00 PM, to get set up. Plus, I had never been to the Bagdad, and I wanted to check the place out. It’s a beautiful building, and has a very cool “Portland’ vibe.

I was also surprised to see “Ignite Portland” up on the main marquee, since I thought we had asked them not to put it up there (we knew we didn’t need help drawing any more of a crowd!):


I went inside, and looked around before Todd, Dawn, and the others arrived. I fell in love with the Bagdad – it’s a very cool place. As you’ll soon see…

By about 4:00 PM, we got started setting up the short-lived registration area.

Registration area

Right about then, we noticed that people had actually started lining up outside. One hour and 15 minutes before we officially opened the doors at 5:15 PM. You guys were hardcore! It was rainy and windy and COLD outside. I salute you and thank you, early line waiters!

The Line began a 4:00pm

The Line

We had a tremendous outpouring of volunteers – almost more than we could keep busy. One of the “nice” problems to have. Ann Marcus was the “chief volunteer wrangler”, and did an awesome job. But I can’t her in any of my pictures! I’ll make it up to you, Ann. Here are some of our other volunteers:

Our Awesome Volunteers



We had some food – appetizers, mostly – catered by the Bagdad (and the McMennamin’s restaurant there). And there’s also a bar, where in addition to drinks and theater popcorn, you can order a burger, fries, and other snacky stuff. The bar/food line was long all night, but it moved fast. If you ordered something other than a beer or wine, they’d give you a number, which you took back to your seat in the theater, and they’d run your order out as soon as it was ready.

The Food

Bagdad Bar

Bar Line

The theater started to fill up quickly, and there was a definite buzz in the air. This is about when I started to get really excited and slightly euphoric. πŸ™‚

Filling Up

By this time, the line was still so long, and we had so many people that hadn’t made it through registration that we made an executive decision to bypass registration, and just let people file in until the Bagdad cut us off and we were at full capacity.

The Line Around the Block

Filing In

I snuck across the street to take some pictures of the colorful marquee:

Marquee at Night

Before we knew it, we had reached capacity. We counted more than 750 people that made it in, and there were still 100 to 150 that got turned away. It really sucked to have to make people wait in a long line in the cold, and then to have to turn people away. But, on the positive side, that’s another one of those “nice” problems to have. πŸ˜‰

Every seat in the theater (580 total) was soon full. We knew we’d be “standing room only”, and boy was that the truth.

Standing Room Only

With that, we got started. We did the welcome/housekeeping items, which seemed to drag on a little longer than we thought they would when we were planning the agenda (we got feedback to that effect from lots of people, so we’ll make it better next time). The sponsors got to do their 30 second Ignite-style blurbs. My group, Intel Software Network, was a sponsor again, but my boss Bill couldn’t make it, so I stood in for him giving a little spiel about how ISN loves developers.

Sponsor Slides

Rick Turoczy, Silicon Florist

And then, we were off, directly into Scott Kveton’s “What is Ignite?” talk. I took lots of photos of the presenters and slides, but I haven’t processed them all yet, and may not post them at all, since video of all the talks was posted in less than 24 hours by the awesome, amazing A.J. (a.k.a. linuxaid). So check out this post over on and watch the videos for yourself.

We also had John Hartman and the video crew from AlphaGeekTV, who not only provided a live video stream for people who couldn’t make it to the theater, but they also recorded the talks from various angles, and are going to edit them together all nice and fancy like. We’ll post those, when they’re ready, on the “Watch” page on

After 7 talks, we had a break to network and chat with everyone. We also did some door prizes with schwag from our sponsors. Someone even took Todd up on his tongue in cheek offer of a prize for anyone who came to Ignite on a first date (which he mentioned during the Oregonian interview as a joke, but hey!)

First Date at Ignite!


Intermission, Bar Line

What’s up with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant? Well, it turns out that in addition to being “Super Tuesday” for primary elections, and “Fat Tuesday”, the biggest party night of the year, that night, February 5, 2008, was the 20th anniversary of the “historic” WWF championship title match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Raise your hand if you remember that? Yeah, I do. I watched it. It was the most watched televised sporting event to date in 1988 when it happened. So we had a little fun with it. Ask someone who was there for details. πŸ˜‰

After the intermission, the last wave of seven talks took off, and they were just as awesome as the first. Adrienne Fritze’s talk on “Living a Made Up Life” was unexpectedly personal and touching, and there were moments where all 750+ of us were silent, hanging on Adrienne’s every word. Contrast that with the roaring laughter that overcame us when Mario Schulzke explained “Die Hasselhoff Conspiracy”, and you begin to get an idea of the breadth and variety of the talks that we had. And we only saw 14 of the 54 submitted ideas! There’s another one of those “nice” problems to have – way more cool, interesting, funny, informative, and amazing presenters and ideas than we could ever present in one night,

The Presenters - Thank You!

As the night wrapped up, I was floating on a high. So many people came up to me and said “hi”, shook my hand, complemented us on the event. I found myself actually speechless. I couldn’t find the right words to respond. I can’t recall that ever happening to me. And that’s why Ignite Portland 2 was one of the best nights of my life.

We have something really special here, and in the last couple of days, I’ve been absorbing and pondering that. From the few emails I’ve had with the other organizers, they feel about the same. So we’re going to work even hard to make future Ignite Portland events just as special. More special. And bring this awesome community driven, rooted-in-Portland spirit to other events. I can’t wait to see what comes next. πŸ™‚


5 thoughts on “Ignite Portland 2 was one of the best nights of my life!

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  2. Pingback: » Ignite Portland 2: Let the rounding up begin - Silicon Florist

  3. Kelly Guimont says:

    Josh, you are absolutely right! Once people started filing in I had to force myself to stay in volunteer mode so I wouldn’t lose it before my talk as people kept coming in, and coming in, and coming in…

    So as I went around in volunteer mode, directing people to seats and making sure things were as they should be, at one point I had a moment of pause where I realized all these people came to the Bagdad and waited forever and hung out for an event that I helped with. And that was awesome. Then I completely came apart as my talk got closer and closer. (:

    I know there’s been feedback on the crowd control and so on, but honestly I think we had a fantastic crowd. It could have been a LOT worse. I was in the lobby when someone said that no more people were allowed in the building, and since I was still in volunteer mode, that was a great feeling.

    I am honored that The Legion let me show up and help out, not to mention let me talk about pepper in front of a crowd that was more than half the size of the town I grew up in. Whenever people ask about Ignite I always tell them the same thing: There was a conference in Seattle last summer and some Portland folks were there. They got to go to Ignite Seattle and thought it ruled, so they thought there should be a Portland one. And they made it happen.

    You have every reason to be thrilled and proud and excited about Tuesday night. Enjoy it!

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