City holds fourth annual Chicago Ideas Week

By Assistant Metro Editor

CHICAGO IDEAS WEEK, an annual conference that brings leaders together to inspire conversation about issues affecting the city and world, is being held Oct. 13–19.

CIW is one of the world’s most accessible ideas conferences, with more than 160 events set to take place throughout Chicago according to Brianna Huy, the director of media relations for CIW. The event maximizes the public’s opportunity to participate in arts and culture, foster cultural innovation and pro- mote lifelong learning, Huy said. Most events are open to the public for $15 per ticket.

Chicago’s Cultural affairs is equally enthusiastic.

“Chicago Ideas Week is a wonderful platform that inspires and educates us through compelling stories told by thought leaders, innovators and everyday people,” said Michelle T. Boone, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in an emailed statement.

CIW will bring more than 150 globally known speakers, including Captain Richard Phillips, George Lucas, Joan Cusack, Naomi Judd, Sean Combs and Rev. Al Sharpton.

“We’re proud to welcome global leaders to experience our city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an Aug. 4 CIW press release. “This event not only showcases our city’s vibrancy and diversity, but also encourages new initiatives and ventures while fostering a rich community of people who have the power to achieve great things.”

The week long event will kick off with talks highlighting the future of military, politics, science and explorers, according to Huy.

“[They have] traveled the world and have amazing stories,” Huy said. CIW is chaired by founder Brad Keywell, Emanuel and Groupon co-founder and CEO Eric Lefkofsky. The ideas week features 21 talks, lasting 90 minutes each, and two summits. At the events, speakers share insights on topics that range from politics, business and sports to pop culture, brain research and end of life issues.

CIW also holds almost 100 hands-on labs, providing attendees behind- the-scenes looks at some of Chicago’s most innovative organizations and businesses. Some labs include an inside peek at the Chicago Tran- sit Authority control room, a work- shop on the art of coffee roasting at 

Bowtruss Coffee and a design session with BucketFeet Shoes’ creative design team.

CIW will have four types of events to attend. The public can choose to go to either a talk, summit, conversation or lab. Each section differs from the other as some include interaction with speakers and some are only to listen to.

Talks are 90-minute platforms with between four and six speakers. For example, a “politics’ talk would feature political leaders who will discuss their expertise and talk about current events in politics.

Future Global Leaders, the most recommended summit for college students, is a new summit that CIW 

is offering to the public this year. “Future Global Leaders is really cool and [is] relevant for [many college students] because it’s all amazing men and women under 35 years old that are making a huge impact,” Huy said. “They are going to be on stage talking about all the different things they’re doing in their communities to make the world a better place.”

The leaders, who each represent one of the five continents, will share new ways they are tackling hunger, inventing globally accessible technology, empowering immigrants and refugees and creating cut- ting-edge art, music and comedy.

Conversations are smaller, last an hour and generally will host smaller audiences. After a presentation is given by the speaker, the 

floor is open to the audience for a Q–and–A session.

“The labs are really exciting,” Huy said. “Labs actually highlight Chicago, and they highlight the businesses all around the city. You get a behind-the-scenes from what- ever business is hosting the lab.”

One lab, called Rags of Honor, spray-paints t-shirts and employs only homeless veterans. At the lab, attendees will be able to go to their facility to learn about their business and screen-printing.

“There [are] over 100 labs,” Huy said. “Another one is the Chicago Transit Authority. They’re giving a behind-the-scenes look in their control room, and [showing] the new things they’re doing.”