City Full of Dreamers

Jennifer White of ICT SOS wrote this in a letter to me when I asked her about her Wichitalks experience and I’m incredibly humbled by it.

I wasn’t able to attend the first Wichitalks. To be honest, I didn’t really “get” what it was until after that first event as I started seeing people post about it online. There was an instant buzz about the event and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. In my role with ICT SOS, I have spoken publicly many times but I’m not a polished speaker by any means. The structured format intrigued me and I saw it as a way to polish my speaking skills a little by forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I found videos of past presenters and watched them multiple times to get a feel for the format. (Sorry for stalking you, Kenton & Aaron) It scared me. Like, really freaked me out. But I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring. When I got the acceptance email my first thought was, “Yay!” My next was, “Oh, crap. What did I just do to myself?”

I also knew that I couldn’t just pitch my organization which is what I had mostly been asked to do in the past. I would tell my story of how I got involved, how ICT SOS got its start and what opportunities we had for people to join in our work through support or volunteering. I had that down. The format and “No Pitches, Just Passion” rule was going to force me to do something different. And while that scared me, it was the reason I wanted to do it.

I have never practiced so hard for a speech. Like, ever. I worked on my slides, printed them out, rearranged them, set timers, practiced, rearranged and did it all over again until I felt I had something worth sharing. My final Wichitalk product is something I’m very proud of. Was it perfect? No. But I got the chance to share something that really meant a lot to me with a crowd that was so welcoming and receptive. As a speaker, it doesn’t get much better than that.

After the event, I was approached by several people who said they were moved by what I had shared. I was hugged, congratulated, invited to collaborate on projects, and offered help in my mission. Some of those people were friends or acquaintances. Some of them were strangers who are now friends. I met people who are passionate about our city. Some are passionate about business, or information, or pride in our community or technology. But, every one of them freely shared that passion with the crowd and we got a glimpse into what is driving our city forward in 5 minute chunks.

Since the event I spoke at, I have also volunteered at an event and that was also a great experience. (And required much less prep work and stress on my part!)

Our city is so full of dreamers. But if we don’t know about those dreams, we can’t help each other get there. I think what Wichitalks does best is provide a platform for people to share their dreams. Whether it’s a little free library in every neighborhood, a new way of thinking about community, a brilliant business idea or race cars and explosions… when we know what others are dreaming about, we can help each other make those dreams reality. (Maybe with the exception of blowing things up, Sean Amore!) As dreamers, when we put those dreams out there for others to hear, it’s scary and hard and did I say scary? But, when you look out into that crowd and realize that for 5 minutes that whole room is dreaming with you, it is magic. And when a few of those people connect with you to move that dream beyond a 20 slide presentation into actual implementation, it changes our city.

So, in conclusion: Wichitalks is scary, magical and changing our city 5 minutes and 20 slides at a time.

Stay included by signing up for our newsletter or following us on the web. The greatest compliment you can give us is by letting your friends and family know about us as well as sharing these ideas and inspiring each other to keep giving back to our community.

Jennifer White | 04 June 2017

Sustaining Wichitalks

2016 was a great year for Wichitalks. Every event pulled in more and more new people as our popularity grew. With over 100 people at our first event, our audience had doubled in size by the most recent one. We couldn’t be more humbled by the welcoming and passionate Wichitans who chose to spend their evening at Wichitalks.

Providing a rich Wichitalks experience does not come without a cost. To have what we need to create the Wichitalks experience, we have relied heavily on donated items and services, and sometimes were forced to cancel something we were fighting to have.

Wichitalks was technically hibernating this winter; yet, in truth we were strategizing a game plan to keep Wichitalks sustained. Wichitalks is not a non-profit organization, but we run it that way nonetheless. A prime example being our organizers being classified as volunteers. Still we are determined to ensure you that our most important assets are being served in the best way that we can. With all of this in mind, we set about determining standards for all of the following: a budget for the event’s vibe and audience experience, costs for necessary services such as photographers, videographers, and catering. We then took those standards and created a strategic plan to execute them.

To ensure Wichitalk’s sustainability, the following three revenue streams are necessary:

  • Tickets - There will be a reduced-price pre-sale and a regular sale for the tickets. The pre-sale opens when an event is announced, and the regular pricing opens when speakers are announced.

  • Donations/Sponsorships - We welcome these opportunities and will be working with each individually.

  • Patreon - Anyone who may be a part of the community and wants to support Wichitalks can choose a monthly donation tier where, while you are supporting the event, you will also have the opportunity to receive special offers and extras from Wichitalks. Check out Patreon here!

Wichitalks is a labor of love for all of its organizers. We hope that you enjoy seeing individuals from our vibrant Wichita community sharing their passion, and will support these necessary changes to ensure we continue to provide you the Wichitalks experience that you’ve come to expect.

Thank you,

Stay included by signing up for our newsletter or following us on the web. The greatest compliment you can give us is by letting your friends and family know about us as well as sharing these ideas and inspiring each other to keep giving back to our community.

Kevin Falting | 23 April 2017

Wichitalks Ethos

Ethos — the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.

I am often asked what Wichitalks is and my typical response is something along the lines of: a mini TED-like talk from passionate Wichitans where each talk is 20 slides, 15-second auto-advance, no pitches …” and the description usually died off from there on out. What this describes could be any event and doesn’t demonstrate the full spirit of why we’re doing this.

Wichitans are some of the most creative, hard-working, and inspiring people I’ve ever met. I believe in Wichita, its diversity, and most importantly its audacious opportunity. Recall the eye-opening numbers measuring Wichita’s status, and contrast that with how you feel, what is happening, and where you viscerally go when thinking about our beautiful city. To me, there is a disconnect, and that gap is a sign we’re not giving up without a fight. Wichitalks exists to harness this ethos and spread awareness of our rallying optimism.

Many of the communities in Wichita don’t communicate with one another. Their efforts are applied toward many different visions of the future. These visions, as diverse as every one of these leaders, represent Wichita’s future. Wichitalks gathers them together for an evening at a space that encourages open-minded and collaborative conversation. Yet, this isn’t always in the form you’d imagine.

It’s the passion Thomas Stanley has for running, Kim Burton has for neighborhood literacy, Lamont Anderson has for inspiring action, Alex Pemberton has for the spaces we inhabit, Kelsey Ryan has for data driven reporting, Seth Etter has for open data, and Claudia Amaro has for immigrant families. The number of visionaries and the opportunity for everyone in the city to contribute in their own unique way grows every single day.

We’re not going to get anywhere by shouting that we’re the best, the loudest. That part is obvious. While we are home to some of the greats, Wichitalks presenters lean passion-forward in the most humble manner. By sharing and teaching without any expectation of return, a meaningful connection with the community forms. You leave feeling inspired, armed with new philosophies and viewpoints, yet not tired from sales pitches. In essence, these talks or ideas taken as a whole end up being greater than their individual sum - a real investment in the people we do business with every day. The very individuals who shop alongside us at Dillons, run down Douglas, or are the parents of our children’s peers.

Wichitalks envisions a Wichita of opportunity for everyone, a Wichita not afraid of taking on controversial topics, and a Wichita with that HQ swagger by offering a space for these ideas to radiate and grow.

Thank you,

Stay included by signing up for our newsletter or following us on the web. The greatest compliment you can give us is by letting your friends and family know about us as well as sharing these ideas and inspiring each other to keep giving back to our community.

Kevin Falting | 06 April 2017

Wichitalks 2017

Thank you for supporting Wichitalks at Roxy's this past July; we had a blast. We've taken notes, gathered feedback, and have come up with a gameplan for our next event. Stay connected because we'll be announcing the next Wichitalks event soon! In the meantime though, check out our Alumni and sign up for the announcement-letter at the bottom of the page!

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