Monday, November 18, 2013

My TEDx Experience

I'm going to warn you before you even start reading...this post is going to be long!

You were warned. 

This past Friday I had the amazing experience of a TEDx event. If you have no idea what I'm talking about then, then you need to go (after reading this post of course) to the TED website and just spend the rest of the day watching TED talks. They're basically short talks, given by just about anyone you can think of, on whatever they have to say. A TEDx event is an independently organized TED event where the organizers can use their materials, branding, and show a certain number of archived TED talks. It's a way to spread the events around the world. TEDx events feature speakers who are local, or who were suggested by someone local. The event I attended was in a small city about an hour away from where I live. It was an all day event, and I can't even begin to express how amazing it was. 

When I first arrived, I was given my name badge, and directed to the swag table! 

I was given this awesome bag with the coffee mug, a water bottle, and some snacks! 

Then this beautiful stage, and awesome bad greeted us as we walked in and found a seat. The theater this event was held in was truly beautiful, and the stage design was awesome. 

This post will get insanely long if I go over all the speakers at the event. They were all really amazing, but I'll just go over my favorites, in no particular order, and you can see the rest on the TEDx Charlottesville website. 

First up was John Kluge, co-founder of a company called Toilet Hackers, and a rather well known name in the area. His family used to own a winery recently purchased by Donald Trump, and his name is on quite a few other things in the area. I think everyone locally just associates the Kluge name with money, but John is really doing some good stuff with his company. It's designed to bring sanitation options to countries where children die every day from diseases related to poor sanitation. He had a good message, and his company will be able to do some amazing stuff. 

Then there was Ralph Cohen, who is cofounder of the American Shakespeare Center. He gave a talk about how leaving the lights on during theater productions is of far greater benefit to the actors and audience than being in the dark all of the time. I've always wanted to go to see Shakespeare performed in this manner, and after his talk, I really have the itch. 

Dr. Joel Fuhrman was the speaker who caused me to purchase tickets to the event. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Fuhrman's work in nutritional science, and I've been wanting to hear him in person for a long time. I had the pleasure of unexpectedly getting to see him the night before this event, but he gave a great talk here as well. The results he has had with treating his patients with diet alone are truly amazing, and not to be ignored by anyone suffering from any disease. 

Deb Gottesman was the one speaker who made me cry. She was part of creating a production called My Soul Look Back and Wonder which took a group of women who had recently been released from drug treatment, jail, or other difficult circumstances, turned their stories into a play, and had them act it out at the Kennedy Center. It was a moving talk to say the least.

Then there was John Hunter. Before he spoke they played a short video about his World Peace Game, and talked to some of his fourth grade students about the game. After the video, they brought out three of those students who are now grown, and had them talk about what they game taught them. Then, Mr. Hunter came out and talked about what he learned from creating the game, and about being an educator. He met with a standing ovation, and for good reason. 

Here's a link to his book. World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements

My two favorite speakers of the day both came from an open mic night held in Charlottesville where they were picked by the crowd. Darius Nabors, and educator, talked about his bucket list, and it was really entertaining. Denise Stewart talked about how to approach problems, and she had the crowd laughing the whole time.

And finally, Laura Mulligan Thomas and the Charlottesville High School Orchestra String Ensemble. They can only be heard to be believed.

So, those were the highlights of my TEDx experience. It was amazing, and I'm going to make sure to go to any of these events that I'm close to. If you have one in your area, GO! I promise you, it will be worth the price of admission.