Author Archives: Christian Caldwell

SparkClub kicking off TEDxSMU Idea Week

We are excited and honored to announce that we will be kicking off the TEDxSMU Idea week. Idea week is described on the site as

Seven days in October where the conversations are about substance, new ways of thinking, collaboration…that’s the idea behind Dallas Idea Week. Dig in and check out the different events and initiatives going on in Dallas during the week of October 11, 2010.

For our part, SparkClub is hosting a a meet and greet at 511 N. Akard from 6:30 – 8:30 on Monday, October 11. Come out and see the social mission of City Walk at Akard. Hear about the exciting project unfolding on the second floor, and meet some of Dallas’s most dynamic, innovative do-gooders.

This is a chance to meet others involved in Idea Week and share experiences and ideas. It is guaranteed to spark innovation.

Sign up here.

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bigBANG Spark Lounge Menu

Section of the Spark Lounge at the bigBANG on Thursday June 10

a corner of the Spark Lounge

Well if you didn’t get a chance to make it to bigBANG yesterday, no fear, we will be sharing everything we can get our fingers on right here.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this article in the Dallas Morning News today. It is a really good article.

I’m still working on a good summary of what all happened. It was immense and I spent most of the day in the Spark Lounge with Teri Walker, Cone Johnson, Turner Jones, Mikal Hughey, Jasmin Brand, Tyler Fields, Sarat Nidasanametla and Lacy Mahone so I’m collecting details from our organizers and volunteers.

The Spark Lounge was probably the coolest place to be at the bigBANG. We had comfy chairs, air conditioning and brilliant minds talking about everything from Facebook to Kiva.org. The room was set with all those experts as a place where the attendees could come and get one on one time to talk about a range of subjects. After the jump, you can see the menu of topics. The discussions ran the gamut from “How do I use twitter” to “How do I integrate my social media with my company’s other marketing” and much more.

Continue reading

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Pecha Kucha Dallas


Pecha Kucha Dallas

Originally uploaded by d double u

David Wilson has a beautiful set of photos from our Gamechangers meeting Thursday night from SparkClub and Pecha Kucha Night. Check out the full set from David on Flickr.

We’ll have some videos from the presentations soon.

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Gamechangers Among Us

In 1979 I had a t shirt that said, “if you can’t win the game, change the rules”. I was constantly razzed for changing rules. Last night, I quickly realized I was among good company.  At the SparkClub + Pecha-Kucha = Gamechangers event we heard from an array of people who have realized that no one is winning the game, so it’s time to change the rules and they are doing just that.

The ability to get things done in a meaningful way was a core tenant in all 8 presentations. Four community organizers, two architects, one artist, a developer and restauranteur all shared the stories of their passion projects and business models which are making our community a better place to live.

THIS IS DALLAS!  What a pleasure to hear innovative thinkers approaching their work and communities.  they showcased their drive, their vision the higest calling for our community.

Jason Roberts talked about his vision inspired by trips to Europe in which he began asking “where are my plaza’s with fountains, coffee shops and children on bikes”?  Chris Zielke and Brent Jackson talked about a guerrilla restaurant at an abandoned taqueria to benefit the Mass Care Task Force and a new mixed use development anchored by a grocery store featuring sustainable, locally grown and produced foods. Marianna Griggs is inspiring a movement of community gardens to address food security and social justice.  Tori Trad presented an approach to architecture and design that celebrates community leaders and cultural richness in the newly renovated building for the The Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center.

Greg Metz shared images and philosophies on how art pushes our thinking, questions the norm and catalyzes change.  Omar Jahwar talked about invading the culture of the youth to provide positive exchanges and stem youth violenceBenje Feehan‘s shifted our thinking from how do we “create something beautiful” to how do we “preserve what is beautiful”.  Finally, Stacy Caldwell ended the night with a call to look beyond the “Land of Non” (the old world of nonprofits) to change the game, innovate the structures and realize the passion that is often lost in the institution.

An inspired film showing the power of Pecha Kucha.  The lesson encouraged people to abandon the old-school, check-writing philanthropy and just get “engaged”.  For, without action and personal involvement, we are not going to address the challenges our communties face.

We are greatful for the fine crowd that gathered at Sons of Herman Hall representing an amazing mix of do-gooders from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and geographies.  I was unbelievably proud to be here in Dallas among such kindred spirits.

All of this would not have been possible without the generous and brilliant work of Scott Horn who came through on the A/V. Scott is a Gamechanger himself as artist, event planner, and co-curator of the Magnolia Gallery. I would also like to thank the SparkClub co-conspirators, sound by David Wilson, Sons of Hermann Hall and PKN.

Brian Murphy and Sarah Jane Semrad have brought our little city a major gift with Pecha-Kucha Night. They are doing more, so watch for future events like the one we had last night. It is amazing, inspirational and lots of fun.

We will have videos of each of these presentations soon from our man Jax Daws, so stay tuned.

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Put Wall Street Bonuses to Social Good

Bomb in Wall Street, 1920

Image via Wikipedia

There have been many stories over the last couple weeks about Wall Street Bonuses. The bonuses are given after many of these institutions recovered huge profits in 2009. However, the source of the investments that led to the profit comes from us, the taxpayers, in the form of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP.) Reports suggest that the largest firms receiving these funds are giving out over $90 million in bonuses. The outrage comes, logically, as it seems that the money that the government invested was meant to jump start the economy and get the same banks making loans. Instead of making loans, however, many many millions have gone directly to bank execs and investors, the very people blamed for the economic crisis. As a result lawmakers are looking at ways to regulate or even tax these bonuses. The UK has already instituted large taxes on bonuses. Our own congress is debating 50% taxes on bonuses over $50k and using the tax to help small and midsized businesses. Instead of adding more bureaucracy to these funds, the government should consider encouraging a ‘good returns,’ or social venture model.

I propose giving tax cuts to people receiving these bonuses if they invest 100% for a year or more in social ventures. Many organizations have begun giving microloans to the nation’s and world’s poorest people, helping spur entrepreneurship among the most poverty stricken people, as we heard at our second Spark Club meeting from Salah at Soap Hope. His organization withholds a year of profit to grant microloans to women in poverty in the DFW area. These loans are repaid and there is only a 2% default rate. However, the businesses and entrepreneurship spurred by these loans create further wealth in the community, potentially making more customers for Soap Hope and the businesses they have inspired.

I am all for spreading the wealth, however the Robin Hood methods of government agencies moving wealth from one place to another has proved inefficient and unsustainable. Social Ventures and microfinance however are offering very interesting models that are creating social change that is sustainable. If the government wants to do something about these greedy bastards and their fat cat bonuses, stop looking at old tax and regulation policies and start looking at ways to inspire social good.

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