5 Things Not To Miss At Chicago Ideas Week

Chicago Ideas Week kicks off next week and this year’s program is more jam packed than ever before with leading innovators, creators, scientists and social-change makers set to take the stage. As the official visual note-taking partner of Chicago Ideas, the Ink Factory team is busy gearing up for the week-long ideas festival. But we took a quick break to catch up with Chicago Ideas Director of Marketing and Media Sona Jones for a sneak peek at what’s new and not to miss in 2017. Read on for Sona’s insider tips and we hope to see many of you there.
Chicago Ideas

There’s a lot to see and do during Chicago Ideas Week. What advice can you offer attendees to make the most of the week?

Practically, you should, as best as you can, use the filters on the Chicago Ideas Chicago Ideas schedule page. There, you can sort events by date, but also by type and topic. You can search by “social event” if you are interested in making connections, “Conversation” if you are looking for newsworthy topics like the future of football or the state of journalism, or “Talk” if you want to hear big ideas on broad themes.

I also suggest that you check out more than the stage programs. Labs are an amazing way to see a side of the city that you might not be familiar with. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” events are a great way to check out new restaurants and make new connections.

An artist from Ink Factory draws visual notes at Chicago Ideas Week

Any big changes attendees should anticipate this year?

We’ve moved venues this year to the Harris Theatre and VenueSIX10, in addition to Morningstar.

I’m also excited that this year we’re partnering with the Field Museum for our Meet Ups. Meet Ups are free social events that take place after certain stage programs. And, in celebration of a new Field Museum exhibit that traces how ideas move across cultures over time, we’re building out a space together at Block 37 called “The Forum.” Here, experts from the Field Museum will touch on topics covered on the CIW stage, and attendees will have the chance to continue the conversation from the event they attend.

I’m just thrilled that we can partner with a great institution like the Field Museum on a really perfect program. Drinks will also be compliments of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Also, Edison Talks (on October 20) is open to the public for the first time ever. I’m going to treat it like a staycation for my mind – it’s going to be awesome.

One of Ink Factory's artists graphic records a political talk at Chicago Ideas

What 5 events are on your must-see list this year?

Is China the New World Superpower?

I think this topic is so relevant right now with everything happening with international relations. The most recent US Ambassador to Beijing is coming, and I’m thrilled to hear from these experts on what’s next.

Life’s Big Questions

This is always one of my favorite programs because it covers such big ideas. I’m also a huge fan of Aasif Mandvi from his time on the Daily Show.

The State of Our Union

Our opening night is always a big deal with inspiring performances in addition to the Talks, and this year will be no different. I also think we could all use an uplifting vision of our country right now.

Breakthroughs: Advancing the Way We Live

This is going to be a cool program that looks at human breakthroughs from the micro level—like gene splicing with CRISPR—to the macro level and how group psychology has changed to lead to more movements.

Future of Football

This is another interesting topic, curated in a way that I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else. We’ve got former NFL players, including Otis Wilson who played for the 1984 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, and Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who discovered CTE in football players and was portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Concussion.

An audience member snaps a photo of visual notes created by Ink Factory at Chicago Ideas

Ink Factory is excited to once again capture visual notes at Chicago Ideas Week. How do you think these visuals enhance the experience?

Everyone learns and retains information differently. I think what’s so cool about Ink Factory is that they provide an at-a-glance way to trigger all of the big ideas racing through your mind during any given event. It’s a powerful reminder to take action.

Illustration of a team looking at visual notes