By Cindy Foster

Fast-Paced, Short Talks Empower UNM TREE Center Partners

"Enlighten Us - But Make it Quick" is the slogan for Project IGNITE, a dynamic method for presenting brief, impactful talks on any subject recently adopted by the University of New Mexico's Transdisciplinary Research, Equity and Engagement (TREE) Center.

The IGNITE formula can energize and empower community members talking about important issues, says TREE Center director Lisa Carcari Stone, PhD.

"One of the primary focuses for the TREE Center lies in advancing health equity research, both by training and mentoring researchers, as well as in engaging the communities most affected by the burdens of social and health inequalities," Carcari Stone says. "We want our research to be powered by community needs, and Project Ignite provides a venue for our communities to have a voice in disseminating and implementing community knowledge as science."

Project IGNITE began in Seattle in 2006 with the goal of "combining big ideas with networking," according to its developers. Talks have ranged from musing on creativity to how to eat a banana. There are now several hundred Project IGNITE sites throughout the country and around the world. UNM's TREE Center site will be the first to be developed in New Mexico.

The rules are simple: the talk should include 10 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds, with five minutes being the maximum set aside for each talk. The short time slot keeps the talk in focus and the energy comes from the speaker's passion for the subject matter, Carcari Stone says.

The TREE Center has sponsored several recent IGNITE talks. Speakers have included San Felipe Pueblo's Ryan Sanchez, speaking on "Youth, Resiliency and Power," Kee J.E. Straits, who talked about "Stories of Spirit in Native Communities," Evelyn Rising, a Hobbs-based UNM Health Extension Rural Officer (HERO) on "Creative Opportunities Out of Trials - A Hot Queen Celebrates Her Legacy," and fellow HERO Francisco Ronquillo, who spoke of the Mexican-American experience with "Growing Our Own."

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, awarded funding for the TREE Center earlier this year. UNM was one of only 15 institutions selected out of 110 grant-funding applicants.

"The foundation of the TREE Center rests in community members knowing that we are 'telling our stories,'" Carcari Stone says. "Our goal is for those stories to be the roots of transformative impact our community generated and involved research."

Categories: Community Engagement, Research, School of Medicine, Top Stories