Kicking off Dallas's "Idea Week" With an Impromptu "Speed Ideating Session" Downtown

Kicking off Idea Week at Backbeat Cafe. That "12:00" in the circle? That was kick-off time. Quite the idea.
Kicking off Idea Week at Backbeat Cafe. That "12:00" in the circle? That was kick-off time. Quite the idea.
Maddi Williams

In advance of TEDxSMU this weekend at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, this week has been dubbed "Idea Week," with daily events popping up around Dallas to promote conversations about hot-button topics -- like, ya know, transportation, schools and bullying. Just ... stuff.

"Our goal is to get a good cross-section of thoughts building upon each other," said SparkFarm's Christine Rodgers, who's handling the PR for the brainstorming sessions. "The results will be presented, discussed and hopefully rolled up to insight some change."

We found ourselves this afternoon at one of five "speed ideating sessions" -- this one, at downtown's Backbeat Café, where reactions from attendees were split. Many flat refused to speak; some chimed in with off-the-wall comments; a few others had big changes in mind.

The discussion about preventing bullying elicited suggestions that included students carrying Tasers, everyone getting a large dog, mandating karate classes and to "smoke 'em out their hole," but one of the more serious ideas came from a middle school boy who said, "It's actually not that hard ... we just need smaller classes."

To improve North Texas education, the consensus among the crowd was that more money, better teachers and more involved parents are needed. The only suggestion on how to implement any of these ideas was to use lottery proceeds.

When people claimed to be out of ideas, speaker Rev. Omar Jawar wasn't shy about picking their brains or switching his questions. Ernest Mason, Jawar's self-proclaimed sidekick, never backed down, following departing folks half a block or more.

"We're not asking for money," Mason said. "We need ideas!"

All of the ideas generated during the week will be presented on Saturday during the sold-out TEDxSMU event. (Live streaming will be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) On Sunday, TEDxKids @SMU hosts 350 middle school students for a free four-hour conference in exchange for completing four hours of community service.

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