Barry Kudrowitz stood in front of an estimated 220 people on Thursday night, his PowerPoint presentation displayed behind him as he—a University of Minnesota director of product design by trade—used an engineer’s eye to correlate humor with creativity.
His message was simple: Too often people don’t think in innovative terms because they think their ideas might be too far-fetched or laughable. Kudrowitz argued laugher just might be innovation in disguise. And the more laughs you have, the better your odds for finding that new idea that sticks.
“The best way to have good ideas,” Kudrowitz said, “is to have a lot of ideas.”
The Minneapolis Idea eXchange hosted its launch event on Oct. 2 at Minneapolis City Center with keynote speakers hammering home that idea of innovation and networking. MiX, a product of the Downtown 2025 Plan’s Festival of Ideas committee, aims at bringing the people of Downtown Minneapolis together in hopes of finding new ways to continue the development of our city.
MiX’s purpose is to bring visitors, innovative thinking and civic energy to Minneapolis—a city already noted for its citizen involvement. Thursday’s free launch event helped give people an idea of what MiX is and how it can help better our community. In 2015, MiX will begin an annual multi-day festival that helps bring people together and brainstorm ideas and concepts that will help advance the vitality of Downtown Minneapolis.
On Thursday night, City Center’s southeast store space was transformed into a gala with multi-colored lights, a stage with prominent projection screens, tables and chairs for audience members, appetizers, a cash bar, photo opportunities and more. The event kicked off with City of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges addressing the crowd about the importance of forward thinking, and Minneapolis Downtown Council President & CEO Steve Cramer followed the mayor with the MDC’s quarterly forum update.
The Theater of Public Policy took over from there, crafting sketch comedy on the fly based on speakers throughout the night. Kudrowitz did his speech on humor and creativity, Minneapolis Foundation President & CEO Sandy Vargas highlighted innovative ideas born out of donations, and Studio/E co-founder Nate Garvis emphasized the importance of exploring ideas and focusing on making MiX a uniquely innovative brainstorming conference.
MiX Chair, Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen (Westminster Presbyterian Church), and Vice-Chair Mary Shaffer (University of Minnesota Capital Planning/Project Management) addressed the crowd at the end thanking the committee for its hard work in preparing
The crowd was engage throughout the night with speakers who drove their points home with visuals, humor and strong insights.
“We want your best ideas, your most interesting ideas,” Hodges said. “All of them are welcome here and all of them are needed. Because it’s what it’s going to take to meet this goal of growth—the 2025 Plan goal of bringing more people to live downtown. … This is an opportunity for us to get together and know one another and forge these relationships and do networking to spark new ideas for where we can go together over time.”
Vargas’ speech hammered home the importance of giving back to the community. She noted the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which began as 640,000 acres of protected land, has now grown to 1 million acres and is a natural treasure for visitors in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Foundation itself began with $25,000 in 1915 and has crown to giving back $47 million in 2013 to charities that help build a better future for the community.
Garvis said MiX has the opportunity to create great ideas through working together. Thursday’s event featured people from all across the downtown community, and this group—as well as those who join the MiX as it heads into 2015—will have the opportunity to build on what has already been established in Minneapolis with hopes of building and even better future.
“Let’s do something that hasn’t been done before,” Garvis said.