TEDxMidAtlantic Day 1 Session 3

Session 3: Engage

Noted entrepreneurs, event sponsors, and technology pioneers Steve and Jean Case introduced the presenters in this session.

Foreshadowing one of the Day 2 speakers, the video Happy Little Clouds, a remix of PBS oil painting instructor Bob Ross was presented.

Alec Ross (@AlecJRoss) is a special advisor to Hilary Clinton who spoke about how digital communication and social networks are changing the actors and pace of modern diplomacy.

David Rubenstein (@OneCarlyle) founded the Carlyle Group, the largest private money management firm in the world. After introducing his life’s story and his decision to purchase historic documents and donate them to government agencies he made a strong case that philanthropy should be practiced in the same way that the word itself is derived, as “the caring of man,” not just in the sense of wealthy benefactors donating to worthy causes. Everyone has benefitted from government in some way, and in an environment of declining public resources, everyone has an obligation to give back to the government-established institutions that they treasure.

Freeman Hrabowski was jailed for five days in 1962 at the age of twelve for marching in Birmingham with Dr. Martin Luther King. Against that backdrop, he excelled academically and is now president of University of Maryland Baltimore County. While most students with enthusiasm for science, mathematics, and engineering eventually select other areas of study due to lack of encouragement and support from their parents, teachers, and the educational system, he and his programs have been remarkably successful motivating students to pursue and achieve advanced degrees in these areas.

Colin Powell (@powellcenter) used his life’s story as a case study for the positive influence of structure in children’s lives. Raised in Brooklyn by Jamaican immigrants, Powell was not a stellar student but found motivation from the strong sense of honor imparted by his parents and community; and opportunity in his college’s ROTC program. He continues to draw inspiration from America’s immigrant community, who remind him of the promise and potential offered by the United States.

Marci Harris (@marcidale) established PopVox as a way to organize communications between elected representatives and their constituents. The web application provides voters with a way to better understand and influence the issues of the day; and provides officials with a clear and quantifiable way to gauge voter interest in specific issues and legislation.

Sage Salvo (@SageSalvo) is a poet, musician, PhD candidate in economics, and professor who advocates hip hop as a legitimate literary form, and whose Words Liive program engages young people to experience and create musical and poetic works. The program closed with a Words Liive performance.

Next: Day Two

TEDxMidAtlantic Day 1 Session 2

Session 2: Walking a Wire

Erica Saben (@CharmCityMove) told how, despite the odds, she realized her dream of being a professional dancer, then went on to find a niche as a wire walker. When you believe you can be anything you want to be, you have the power to make your dreams real. Her talk was followed by a wire-walking performance.

Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt) described about how partisanship has increased its stranglehold on American democracy. But the real threats are those which we all have in common, regardless of our divided politics. The metaphorical “asteroids” about to hit us all include global warming and the national debt.

Barbara Van Dahlen (@bvandahlen) recounted the losses she has experienced in her own life, and how she has channeled these experiences into Give An Hour. The organization links US military veterans with mental health professionals who donate their time to aid those who have sacrificed for our country.

Paula Kahumbu (@paulakahumbu) spoke about her work to preserve wildlife habitats in Kenya, fragile as they are, threatened by expanding urban areas, farmers who poison the wild animals that threaten their crops, and the indigenous warrior culture. One highlight was Lion Lights, a bright young farm boy’s solar-powered, motion-activated lion repellant invention.

Adrian Bejan (who previously presented at TEDx Bucharest) delivered a fascinating argument that design is a fundamental feature of nature rather than a conscious act. For example, the principles of aerial locomotion including the relationship between velocity and mass, are the same whether applied to an insect, a bird, or a jet airplane.

Theo Colborn recited a letter she had written to President Barack Obama on the topic of industrial chemicals and their effect on developing human embryos. While there are many laws regulating chemicals based upon their cancer-causing effect, there are fewer regulations limiting the use of chemical compounds that influence the endocrine system.

Charity Sunshine Tillemann­-Dick (@CharityTD), soprano, accompanied by piano, violin, and cello, first delivered an amazing operatic performance from Bizet’s Carmen. Then she told her story of survival, near-death, and comatose hallucinations she experienced recovering from life-saving double lung transplant surgery. Along the way her talk was a meditation on mortality, the power of love to overcome death, and a call to action for organ donation.

Next: Session 3 – Engage

TEDxMidAtlantic 2012 Day One

Jump to Day One: Session One | Session Two | Session Three
Jump to Day Two: Session One | Session Two | Session Three

After years of watching TED Talks online, I decided to attend an independently organized TEDx event to see what it was like. The two-day TEDx MidAtlantic, held in Washington, D.C. on October 26-27, 2012, with the theme of “Be Fearless,” exceeded my expectations. It was an intense exploration of passionate people and inspiring ideas, a glimpse into the unfamiliar, and an inoculation against cynicism and doubt. If I had to sum up the whole TEDx MidAtlantic 2012 experience, it would be that it demonstrates the great potential that is possessed by every single person. We can realize that potential when we overcome fear, embrace failure, inspire activity, and reject the inertia of yesterday’s ideas.

The program opened with a video clip of a three-year-old boy reciting the poem “Litany” by Billy Collins.

There was also a making-of video featuring musician Imogen Heap and her development of the soundtrack to The Happiest Place, an independent film about a human-powered journey through Bhutan.

Session 1 – What We Hold Dear

Silvia Barcellos discussed the human tendency to prefer immediate gratification – choosing chocolate when it is offered now and an apple when it is offered later – and its implications for health and economic decisions.

Alessandro Acquisti (@ssnstudy) revealed that with ubiquitous online social networks and face recognition technology, nobody in public is really anonymous. Along with his discovery about patterns of social security number assignments, his research has proven that your face can reveal far more about yourself than you may have ever thought possible.

Jessica Ladd (@JessicaHLadd) shared a solution to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. STD’s spread when people do not know they have been exposed. When people do find out that they are carrying a disease, they may be ashamed to tell their sexual partner or partners. A simple web site provides education and anonymous notification services.

Jules Polonetsky (@JulesPolonetsky) spoke about the economics of online privacy. If you are a guest in my house, I intend to offer you a slice of pie. However, that does not mean you can just walk in and take it out of my refrigerator. Likewise, online businesses can alienate customers if they exploit personal data without first establishing a mutually understood context for its use.

Jaison Morgan (@JaisonMorgan) presented the history and relevance of incentivized competitions as a stimulant for innovation. For centuries, western society has been encouraging innovation with contests and prizes, a phenomenon that disappeared for most of the 20th century, only to see a resurgence in the late 1980s.

Lt. Gen Mark Hertling presented his finding that obesity is not just a domestic health crisis, but a national security issue, and poses challenges for training and fielding our soldiers. In the Army, it is being reversed through a “Fueling the soldier” initiative emphasizing healthy choices.

Next: Session Two – Leading the Charge