Celebrating Stoke’s 3rd anniversary and the thriving culture and economy of Denton, Kevin Roden, VP of education technology startup ReadyRosie, and Heather Gregory, executive director of Stoke, hosted Big Ideas - a lil d creative mixer, inviting community members to deliver three minute pitches about their big ideas for Denton.
Frio’s Denton brought their gourmet popsicles in a nifty pop cart; Kevin Roden treated us all to a keg of Armadillo Land Yacht IPA (coincidentally, it was National IPA Day on August 1st); and there were about a dozen bowls of popcorn of various flavors to graze on (the perfect finger food for spectating).
Dentonites from all backgrounds gathered to speak, to listen, and to collaborate: musicians, business owners, film-makers, alumni from UNT and TWU, residents concerned about recycling, parents envisioning a more family-friendly Denton, and more. (You can read a summary of their pitches at the end of this post).
Heather and Kevin kicked off the night by recounting how and why creative mixers began and some of the past results, one of which was the creation of Stoke, which was an initiative brought forth by the tech and startup community, in large part TechMill, as an idea during a creative mixer.
As Denton is full of potential, Kevin talked about the many platforms upon which community members can create and build opportunities for oneself and others. Denton has a population of about 130,000 and two vibrant universities within a mile of the square, with a new NCTC campus opening in late August.
Combined with these factors, the support, infrastructure, and a network for entrepreneurs at Stoke and through various industries in Denton (manufacturing, distribution, service, retail) that enable residents to work and live here means that gathering the best and the brightest of Denton to share their ideas could only produce a positive and fruitful outcome, as history has shown to do. The spirit of creative mixers has long been one of positivity, enthusiasm, and hope - three necessities in helping to move Denton forward.
The speakers were a mix of people from different backgrounds with ideas on a range of types of topics, answering the questions of “What can Denton be and what can I do as an individual to make Denton become the best?” and “How do I make what I do work in this city?”
Big Ideas for Denton included:
Today’s Needs in Downtown Denton - Neighborhood Grocery Co-op by Jacob Moses
Produce and nutritious food should be accessible to downtown neighborhoods. Let’s open a grocery co-op in downtown Denton to serve the thousands of families there.
Growing Explorium Denton Children’s Museum by Anyah Martinez
This hands-on experiential learning venue for children and their families has had over 25,000 visitors since opening one year ago, and it’s growing. Support this growth by joining the board or volunteering, and help Explorium Denton continue to enrich young Dentonites’ lives.
Community Block Party by Georgina Ngozi
There’s a “cool cultural corridor” just a block or two off of the square. Let’s invite people into these spaces and throw the party of the century, a community block party that is, that includes GDAC, Armadillo Ale Works, Boca 31, Rubber Gloves, SCRAP, makers from the Community Market, and onward! Plenty of potential and creative energy to be harnessed.
Place Making - South of the Square by Rachel Weaver
On that note, let’s create walkability and connect the businesses and entities south of the square to the happenings on the square and vice versa. There are some amazing nonprofits and creative minds itching to make this happen.
Video Games and Continuing Ed for Denton Adults by Jacqueline Gan-Glatz
Let’s make sure we can keep up with tech advancements and prevent leaving adult learners in the dark by creating educational video games that have a low learning curve and enable everyone to keep up with the times, stay marketable, and help with moving careers forward.
WTFemme Podcast by Danielle Marie Longueville
Hear from femmes and learn their stories. Check out and support the WTFemme Podcast with Marie de Menthe and Birdie Holly and help create queer friendly spaces in Denton (both virtually and in person).
Downtown Digital Kiosk by Kyle Taylor - President of TechMill
What services are people looking for when they visit the square? What are people who are already on the square in need of? Let’s capture that data with a downtown digital kiosk.
Youth Music Festival by Eric Nichelson
The youths are making great music and we need to showcase it. Denton’s known for this! Let’s make it happen.
Hosting for a Cause by A. Paulette Griffin
Increase social responsibility awareness and branding, no matter what you do, you can give back to the community. Hosting for a Cause calls on hosts/hostesses, speakers, event planners, and organizers, and others to be generous and donate what they can from events and proceeds to nonprofits and the like.
Should I Recycle It? by Jeff Glatz
Make recycling take as little effort and brain power as possible. Got an app for this?
Family Friendly Denton by Randi Skinner
What if places in town had a family friendly certification - so you don’t have to guess if a spot is stroller friendly or if the little ones will have a play area for their endless amounts of energy?
Granatum Short Film Fest by Mateo Granados
Showcase talented local filmmakers and help tell stories of marginalized groups. Stories are powerful and connect us to one another. Let’s build a local audience for local filmmakers and showcase the boldness and creativity of Denton’s artists.
EJI Lynching Memorial by Shaun Treat
Educate our communities and reconcile the past through present action in order to create a future legacy together. This means reckoning with a dark history, but presents and opportunity to respectfully commemorate a community pay tribute.
Couldn’t make it to the creative mixer on August 1st? Stay tuned for the date, time, and location of the next ones. In the meantime, you can watch the live streamed recordings on the Stoke Facebook channel, and start thinking of what your big idea for Denton might be.