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IgniteMadison #4, October 8th, 2014

Attainable Sustainable

Acting Today for a Better Tomorrow

The next Ignite Madison is on the books! It’ll be October 8th, 8-10pm at the High Noon Saloon as the others were.

This Ignite event will feature ten people who are passionate about reusing, repurposing and making the most of our natural, social and economic resources — be it through business practices, food choices, making (or remaking) things, home dwelling decisions and much more.

Be sure not to miss it – as the evening will also include DJ Mike Carlson, pre-, mid- and post-speaker social/bar time, a raffle and in general, a great night with at least 200 of your closest Madison friends! This event is truly a party — one that celebrates the people who are all about putting thought into action.

Ignite Madison is also a philanthropic event — with all proceeds donated to Sustain Dane. Partnering with Sustain Dane is important to Ignite on a night with these great sustainability stories, as their mission is to foster a rich and diverse community of sustainability champions. Think of them as connectors, facilitators, educators, organizers, sustainability entrepreneurs and networks. They connect world trends to local needs and interests to create innovative new programs and projects.

Tickets are $9 in advance and $14 at the door. All proceeds go to Sustain Dane.

Buy Tickets Online Here »

Our Sponsors

Our Presenters

The Rude Awakening: The Transition to Sustainable Livelihood

Selamawit Zewdie

Selamawit Zewdie a Ph.D. student at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her research area looks at how emerging markets can leapfrog flawed systems to create and adapt to holistic sustainable models that function equitably, ecologically, and economically.

From Cringe to Crave: How I Got Over My Disgust for Eating Insects

Eric Bescak


Eric Bescak is a 2015 MBA candidate at the UW-Madison School of Business—specializing in marketing and entrepreneurship. He most recently worked as a healthcare marketing professional for General Electric. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in literary study from Kenyon College and the University of Chicago. He’s been thinking about starting a business involving edible insects. He is not crazy about eating bugs and he blogs at

Net-Zero Housing for the Rest of Us

Kristopher Steege-Reimann

Kristopher Steege-Reimann has developed rural electrification and efficient lighting initiatives throughout Chile; consulted with homeowners about energy efficiency improvements in Madison; started an LED lighting business; and remodeled two homes to be more beautiful and energy efficient. He lives in Madison’s Darbo-Worthington neighborhood with this wife, a naughty shiba, chickens, and honeybees.

Creating My Own Sustainability Job

Shannon Bunsen

Shannon moved to Madison in 2008 to become a badger. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology and Spanish, but contrary to popular belief, she does not teach monkeys how to speak a second language. She spends her days exploring music and the outdoors, different perspectives and new opportunities.

What I’m leaving my daughter

Jim Carrier

Jim was raised on a farm where the circle of life was plain to see. Roaming the American West, he wrote about climate, water, air, waste. Later, Jim built a house off the grid and sailed the Atlantic in a small boat – they showed him what sustainable

Every THING Has a Purpose

Laura Distin


Laura Distin is an expert furniture re-finisher with 18 years’ experience, which began from dragging home curbside finds to make them her own. She sees the beauty in others’ unwanted items and her goal is to help you see their potential too, and in turn, in yourself.Read more at the Ironstone Nest web site and blog.

Spring Harbor Sustainable Greenhouse

David Ropa

David Ropa began his career as a research coordinator, promoting the use of U.S. agricultural ingredients in food product development. For the past 15 years, he has been an environmental science teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District with the primary mission to get young people outdoors.More about the Spring Harbor Greenhouse

How Become a TetraPAKMAN and the Dreams



TetraPAKMAN, is a Mexican artist working in social sculpture. His work focuses on issues of sustainability. His community-generated projects are made from thousands of repurposed, everyday objects gathered via the USgathering Project, combining participatory workshops, energetic public activities, school visits, monumental pieces, abstract art, education, and environmental activism.Tetrapakman: The Meadowridge Art Project

Farm Fail: The Unforeseen Benefits of Neglect

Keefe Keeley


My failures to become a farmer have been oh so beneficial. I’ll tell a few tales of how the very nature I was out to restore turned on me. I’ll thank the wild animals who wholly destroyed my tender crops had planted for convincing me I’m better off not trying to hack it as commercial farmer. I’ll touch on opportunities this redirection offered me to make the world more sustainable by supporting other farmers of greater skill and thicker skin.Keefe is the ED at the Savanna Institute

Dual Development – Thousands of Miles Apart

Trevor Franda


Trevor Franda is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin Business School studying Finance and Economics. He likes to believe that he can solve the world’s problems through business sustainability initiatives, and runs a non-profit organization that gives out micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Ignite Madison #3 Recap

Another great night!!

10 speakers each gave 5 minute presentations with the theme of the night “All Things Food.” The night included DJ Mike Carlson and all proceeds went to the Community Action Coalition.

Watch the videos below or on the playlist on YouTube.

Peter Allen – Eat Your Ecosystem

Bowen Close – Overcoming Fears for Joyful Eating

Scott Kesling – Think Globally, Act Locally

Jim Jelak – My Dinner With Grandma

Kelly Maynard – Trigger Happy

Dan Bonanno – Tradition Behind Cooking

Megan Cain – How I Became a Gardener

Branden Byers – Why I Ferment Food

Gray Miller – The Ravenous Horde: Single-Parent Meal Planning

Andrew Gierczak – Beer a Personal Journey

Great Door Prizes for May 21st Ignite, Thanks Sponsors!

The Madison community  has come through and we have 5 great sponsors of door prizes for the May 21st Ignite Madison event.

Door Prizes: For Those Who PRE-PURCHASE Their Tickets (you also save $5)

Home Brewer Kit from the Wine & Hop Shop

12(!) YumbutterGO! packs

$30 A Pig In A Fur Coat gift card

$100 Gift Card from the Willy Street Co-op


2 Brow and Bikini waxes from Velvet Waxing studio


Read about the Presenters »

Buy Tickets Now »


We also have DJ Mike Carlson for the time before, between, and after the talks

IgniteMadison #3, May 21, 2014

All Things Food

The next Ignite Madison is on the books! It’ll be May 21st 8-10pm at the High Noon Saloon as the others were. We are raising money and awareness for the Community Action Coalition which provides many services in south central Wisconsin including several programs targeting food security.  We’re super happy to have them as our event non-profit.

Buy Tickets Online Here »


Our Presenters

How I Became a Gardener

Megan Cain

Megan Cain helps people create gardens that feed their bodies and souls through design, education and consultation. Her business, The Creative Vegetable Gardener, is the go-to resource for home vegetable gardening in the Madison area. Her popular weekly garden blog is read by hundreds of gardeners around the country. She and her husband recently sold their former house and garden and are on the hunt for their new urban homestead.@creativeveggies

Tradition behind Cooking

Dan Bonanno 

Bonanno, 29, is a first-generation American who grew up in Kenosha. His Italian parents always cooked from scratch and preached the value of good food. After attending Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, he left for Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy. After a stint at Spiaggia in Chicago, Dan and Bonnie Arent opened A Pig In A Fur Coat in 2012.

The Ravenous Horde: Single-Parent Meal Planning

Gray Miller 

Gray uses five minutes to talk about the hard and fast lessons he learned as a single dad raising four daughters. Practical ideas and techniques will be woven in with a wider message about sustainability, nutrition, and the often unreasonable expectations we have for ourselves and others as parents.

He blogs at:

Think Globally, Act Locally

Scott Kesling

Scott has been involved in food service for over 18 years from dishwasher to owner and has become more focused on sustainability during that time. He believes in the think globally, act locally ethos and has put that thought into action with his new 100 Mile Sauce company which sources most ingredients from the local area.

Overcoming Fears for Joyful Eating

Bowen Close

Bowen Close loves food made from the heart, sharing meals at big tables, and whipping up cocktails to drink on the porch. Bowen grew up in the Midwest but spent 11 years on the West Coast and 13 months traveling around the world before moving to Madison with her husband. She blogs at:

Why I Ferment Food

Branden Byers

Branden Byers is the creator of, a blog and weekly podcast about anything and everything fermented and is soon to be a published cookbook author. Having fermented foods at home for years, Branden realized it was finally time to share this knowledge and enthusiasm with others.@brandenbyers

Trigger Happy

Kelly Maynard

Kelly Maynard has always been a meat-eater. Thanks to her Peace Corps experience in Paraguay and the thriving hunting community in Wisconsin, she now participates more actively in the gathering of meat that she eats. Her work and life in Madison revolve around building a more diverse and vibrant local food system.

My Dinner With Grandma

Jim Jelak

Jim likes to tell the story of his family through sharing favorite family recipes handed down from one generation to the next. One such family story includes immigration from Europe, the Great Depression and the realization of one family’s American Dream . . . all the big stuff plus one tasty dish that brings it all together.He blogs (sometimes) at:

Beer, A Personal Journey

Andrew Gierczak

Andrew is a Microbiologist/Food Scientist that is obsessively compulsive when it comes to fermenting anything that can be eaten or drunk. Brewer for Mobcraft Beer, Andrew is interested in the intersection of restoration agriculture, fermented foods and beverages, quality of life; and how those impact our survivability within the ecosystems that support us.@brewersalchemy

Eat your Ecosystem

Peter Allen and Maureen Carlson

Peter and Mo used to be vegetarian, commuted on bikes, worked at the University, and lived in a comfortable apartment in Madison. They now eat meat daily, drive a diesel pick-up truck, raise grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, goats, and poultry, and live in an off-grid yurt. They used to study and research environmental science and ecology and now spend their days planting trees, raising animals, and restoring healthy


Buy Tickets Online Here »

Ignite Madison #2 Recap

What a great night!!

10 speakers  each gave 5 minute presentations with the theme of the night “Crafted by Hand.” The night  included DJ Mike Carlson and all proceeds went to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Dane County.

Jon Alling – Becoming a Maker

Bill Winfield – Bipolar Woodworking

Yuyen Chang – I see therefore I Make

Adriana Willsie – Paint, Fur and Serendipity

Ryan Browne – Poetry & Pints

Giovanna Couey – A little bit of Frosting and a lot of Elbow Grease

Jeff Szpak – Cigar Box Guitars, An Unexpected Journey

Nicholas Schmidt – The Jean-etic Makeup of Success

Robin and Marty Lawson – Geek + Art = TechnoFashion

Pete Prodoehl – Making Without A Choice


Our Sponsors For This Night Were…




Awesome Door Prizes for February 12th Ignite, Thanks Sponsors!

The Madison community  has come through and we have 5 great sponsors of door prizes for the February 12th Ignite Madison event.

Door Prizes: For Those Who PRE-PURCHASE Their Tickets

Two Home Brewer Kits (each valued at $95)  from the Wine & Hop Shop

Six $25 Food Fight gift cards

One $150 Lands End gift card

AWOL Overnight bag from Duluth Trading Company ($289 value)


Thanks to our friends at Karben4, 30 people have purchased tickets to Ignite which includes a free pint of Karben4.



Read about the Presenters »



Buy Tickets Now »



Thanks to World Run who is supporting us by making the DJ happen.

IgniteMadison #2, Crafted by Hand

February 12th, 8pm

At this Ignite, we’ll learn from ten people who are using their creative talents in unique ways to craft or engineer items from scratch. This could include making artisanal foods, 3D printing or prototyping, screen printing, metal working, illustration, and much, much more!

Being a “maker” certainly casts a wide net – some have turned these talents into a profitable business model, while some turned them into a hobby cherished by friends and family. By any measure, they’re out there making things happen, making a positive impact, and inspiring Madisonians to join them.

Backed by 20 slides (which auto-advance every 15 seconds) for a total presentation of only 5 minutes, they are sure to enlighten and inspire us (and perhaps get us all making something of our own).

Make sure you don’t miss it – the evening will also include a DJ, pre-, mid- and post-speaker social/bar time, and in general a great night! Make no mistake — this is a party, a celebration of all things handmade. All proceeds will be donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dane County.

Sara Nics, Producer for Public Radio International and Wisconsin Public Radio, will be the guest MC for the night!

View the recap and videos

Our Sponsors




Our Presenters

Geek + Art = TechnoFashion

Robin and Marty Lawson

Lumen Electronic Jewelry is the joint project of Robin and Marty Lawson. Life-long tinkerers, siblings, and fourth generation engineers, they take the guts of circuit boards and make distinctively awesome solar powered designs to showcase the uniquely beautiful and strangely organic soul of

Poetry & Pints: Crafting Beer Like Writing Verse

Ryan Browne

Ryan Browne has a degree in poetry. Seriously. And has published a book of poetry. Seriously. And he taught poetry in maximum-security prisons for four years. Serious. Now he has the best job on Earth because he talks about brewing and beer all day at The Wine and Hop

Paint, Fur and Serendipity

Adriana Willsie

Adriana Willsie is an unapologetically upbeat artist. After a silly misunderstanding launched her painting career, Adriana spent years searching for the right subject matter. She finally found it — and she has now hand-painted over 200 quirky pet portraits.

Becoming a Maker

Jon Alling

Jon lives on both sides of the fence. He co-founded his company’s sustainability movement, yet is slowly killing off the worlds forests with his excessive use of post-it notes. And he has spent most of his career designing products for other people, until one day he started making for

I see therefore I Make

Yuyen Chang

Yuyen Chang is interested in relating egalitarianism to beauty, the human body, and the ways we view our mundane surroundings. She has explored these ideas through jewelry, mostly in the demanding medium of metals. She values metalsmithing’s long tradition of craftsmanship, and the subtle aesthetic differences hand work could

Making Without A Choice

Pete Prodoehl

Pete Prodoehl has been attempting to make things since he was a small child, and occasionally, he succeeds. Some people can choose to make things, and some people can’t not choose to make things. Pete stands firmly in the second

Cigar Box Guitars, An Unexpected Journey

Jeff Szpak

Husband, Father, Front End Developer, tech lover, and extreme app junkie, Jeff recently found the joy of creating Cigar Box Guitars by hand from junk parts and a box of forgotten dreams.

A little bit of frosting and a lot of elbow grease

Giovanna Couey

Giovanna Couey works for Shine United. She lives in downtown Madison with her husband Robb and their dog Lola.Giovanna has always loved baking- and started thinking of seriously opening a bakery in 2007. In 2012, she had her first cupcake order, and Frosted Cupcakes was born.

Bipolar Woodworking

Bill Winfield

My life as a woodworker has been a journey of discovery of the connection between my brain and my hands. For years I built custom kitchens, furniture and restaurant fixtures. I now build smaller products using both new and old techniques. I use 3D computer designs and a CNC to cut inlay parts. I use eighteenth century French marquetry techniques to create designs inspired by the graphically rich Art Nouveau

The Jean-etic Makeup of Success

Nicholas Schmidt

Before I found tailoring, I was caught in addiction. Life was hopeless; there was no tomorrow. I found the value in creating something beautiful with my hands, so I decided to pursue being a designer and craftsman. I’m also taking that passion and sharing it with children and adults

IgniteMadison #1, September 25, 2013

10 speakers  each give 5 minute presentations with the theme of the night “Wisconsinites at Play.” The night  included DJ Vilas Park Sniper and all proceeds went to the UW Organ & Tissue Donation Education Fund.

It was a great night!

Jane Schmieding – Adaptive Sports

Kelly McDermott

Scott Krause

Ryan Dexter


Jonny Hunter

Danielle Lee

Mike Keegan

MIchael Lemberger

Shana Martin


Our Sponsors For This Night Were…