Last night, more than 100 dreamers and doers gathered at CL Space to find out who won Creative Loafing/Creative Tampa Bay's 10/100/1000 Challenge. The room was abuzz with creative (of course) energy, starting with something we called a Pitch Party, in which anyone with an idea got two minutes to sell it to one of our visiting judges, a team of students from USF St. Pete's Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation Alliance. When the two minutes was up, some yutz with a cowbell (that was me) rang the bell to indicate it was time to move on and pitch the next person, and so on. (The students and some volunteers wore "Pitch Me" nametags to be more easily identified.) Dennis Gallagher of The Green Can was cited for giving the best pitch of the evening, and he got special props for bringing a prop: one of the titular green receptacles that are part of his recycling system for apartment communities.
Then came the main reason for the proceedings: the announcement of the finalists in the 10/100/1000 competition.
CL and CTB launched the contest in January with a simple goal: to solicit ideas for making Tampa Bay a better place to live. Over 100 days (give or take a few weeks), we received over 80 applications, chose 10 as the most promising, and awarded one of them the $1,000 grand prize from Creative Tampa Bay.
You can read about the 10 finalists here: Suffice it to say they were all eminently worthy of support. But one caught the judges' imaginations the most, and that of the audience, too, I think: Swings, a USF student's so-simple-it's-genius idea to install homemade swings in unexpected places.
But the vibe in the room really didn't need any assistance. From the Pitch Party on, you had the sense that this was a gathering of people jazzed by the opportunity to share their ideas with other innovators. Carissa Caricato of Hoola for Happiness; Ron Weaver of Real Estate Lives; Alayne Unterberger of FICS and her amazingly poised teenage Advisory Board members; idea machine Neil Cosentino; Rudy Arnauts and the Readers' Choice-winning Roosevelt 2.0 crew; the charming community gardeners of The Giving Patch and the godfather of community gardening, Rick Martinez of Sweetwater Organic Community Farm; intrepid Tampa CHANGING photographer Bryan Weinstein; Daniel James Scott and his USF St. Pete "Pitch Me" posse; Jake Filloramo of UT Entrepreneurs at the University of Tampa plus the dedicated bunch from the Creative Tampa Bay board, led by Chair Michelle Royal: all in all, this was a remarkably fun, forward-thinking crowd that left me hopeful for the possibility of positive change in these parts.
So thanks, everybody. Keep in touch with us, and with each other.