We had a blast Wednesday night.

About 300 San Diegans, and some dinosaur skeletons and shark models, gathered in the atrium at the San Diego Natural History Museum for our fourth culture illumination event, A Meeting of the Minds. I’d corralled six speakers to bring us rapid-fire looks at interesting facets of Balboa Park, using a format called pecha-kucha, where each speaker chooses 20 images and each is displayed for 20 seconds.

It seems impossible to see the images and hear the stories they talked about and not think of something — a new idea, a story you’ve forgotten, a place you’ve been meaning to check out. Here’s a sample of those thoughts you had while the night unfolded.

First up was Maren Dougherty, who works for the Balboa Park Online Collaborative and spent 26 days last year sleeping in and exploring the park’s nooks and crannies. She introduced us to 20 faces of people you might never meet — like the guy who makes the flatbread at the Prado restaurant, and the guy who “walks his bunnies” around, usually on the Tuesdays when some museums are free to San Diego residents.

#mindsmeet at The NAT tonight. New life goal – meet the bunny man. Thx @voiceofsandiego. Can’t wait 4 Ranger Kim, best story teller ever!!

— Morgan Justice-Black (@morgiejb) November 29, 2012

Jose Ysea, from the city department that manages the landfill in Balboa Park, went next to talk about the landfill’s history and how it works. (Read our story or watch our San Diego Explained episode about the landfill.)

This is one of the stories that garners the most raised eyebrows whenever I talk about it. Ysea’s talk had that effect, too:

Huh. I knew there was a landfill, had no idea it was so close to recreational areas. I used to work at #BudKearns #mindsmeet

— Denise Scatena (@DeniseScatena) November 29, 2012

I’ve heard there’s relatively little methane produced out of this landfill, but Ben Katz had an idea:

I want a study on powering Balboa park w trash methane.#mindsmeet

— Benjamin Katz (@MeanestBossEver) November 29, 2012

Really great start to @voiceofsandiego #mindsmeet , learning cool things about the jewel of #sandiego @balboapark

— Johnny Pappas (@sustainableenv) November 29, 2012

We brought up Marlene Williams next. Williams lives in the park on the Girl Scouts campus and works for Friends of Balboa Park. She highlighted her experience with the park as her big backyard and showed the new maps she’s been working on to help people navigate the park’s 65 acres of trails.

I need to get me one of those trail maps. #mindsmeet #beginnerhiker

— Denise Scatena (@DeniseScatena) November 29, 2012

Want to pull out my oldschool Timberland hiking boots and check out some of the 65 miles’ worth of Balboa Park trails! #mindsmeet

— Sara (@sara_h) November 29, 2012

Ruth Hayward spoke next about four founders of Balboa Park and what characteristics she imbued them with when she sculpted them. It was really cool to see making-of photos from the molds she made to hold molten bronze. The sculptures are in an area called Founders Plaza on the west side of the park.

Learning a few of the ways Kate Sessions rocked. #rockshedid #mindsmeet

— Sara (@sara_h) November 29, 2012

Fabulous old photos of the founders/shapers of Balboa Park #mindsmeet twitter.com/willcarless/st…

— Will Carless (@willcarless) November 29, 2012

Kate Sessions: work clothes (no-nonsense skirt and shirt) and ‘sensible men’s shoes. Love it. #mindsmeet

— Sara (@sara_h) November 29, 2012

Ranger Kim Duclo guided us through features of the park that have counterparts elsewhere in the state, including the carousel — a similar one is in Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

The Balboa Park carousel is only one of 12 in the U.S. where you can still go for the brass ring. I’ve yet to get it. #mindsmeet

— Sara (@sara_h) November 29, 2012

Here were some overall senses of the night:

Had a lovely time getting my brain stimulated at #meetingminds last night. thanks @voiceofsandiego

— Doug Porter (@dougporter506) November 29, 2012

@kellyrbennett @samuelhodgson Exceptional event @ VOSD #mindsmeet tonight. Park & museum San Diegans blend mutual interests @ Balboa Park.

— Dale Peterson (@DalePeterson7) November 29, 2012

Really enjoying #mindsmeet.Need to get a sitter for the next one so that both @cheryl_katz & I can make it.

— Benjamin Katz (@MeanestBossEver) November 29, 2012

I’ve loved @balboapark since before I moved to #sandiego but #mindsmeet is reminding me and giving me more to #love .@voiceofsandiego

— Johnny Pappas (@sustainableenv) November 29, 2012

Thanks to @voiceofsandiego & esp. @kellyrbennett for building community around the arts. It was fun to be part of tonight’s #mindsmeet

— Maren Dougherty (@MarenReport) November 29, 2012

And, finally, one of my favorites from the night:

Happiness is: family, friends, & community support & love. All of this was felt tonight #mindsmeet Thank you.

— Sara Morrison (@karmiclife) November 29, 2012

What’s sticking with you? What idea struck you, or where might you explore? Leave us a note in the comments below.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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