TEDx UNC Chapel Hill

Main stage TEDx UNC Chapel Hill 2014

Main stage TEDx UNC Chapel Hill 2014

What do space, acro-yoga, GSD and the African word “sankofa” have in common? Absolutely nothing unless you’re sitting at the most recent TEDx event at UNC Chapel Hill.  One of the things that brings me great delight is a lecture.  I’m not kidding…the opportunity to listen to someone share their passion and give me just a little bit of new knowledge is simply inspiring.   Lindsey spent many hours this past year working on the “logistics team” and the dedication and enthusiasm of all college students involved in putting it on was evident. I was eager to see the culmination of their work.  This past Saturday, Will and I drove up for the 6 hour event.  Tim was originally going to come along for the fun, but he gave up his seat to Will and both mother and son thoroughly enjoyed the day away.  From the moment we walked into Memorial Hall, this was a class act.  Goodie bags for all registrants, eye-catching stage design, plenty of food options during the afternoon break (finally, a selection of excellent food trucks at Chapel Hill) and a program chock full of diverse speakers, including two student presentations that rivaled the best of the professionals.

The theme for this year’s TEDx event, “Take Flight”, was a wink and nod to North Carolina’s claim as First in Flight in America. The program was divided into 4 sessions: (1) Discovering Lift  (2)Gaining Altitude  (3) Turbulence and (4) Perspective from Above and moved along at a quick pace.  All TEDx events flow from the premise that learning can come from being exposed to the best new ideas out there.  And it’s up to local groups to host events where participants will engage one another to help bring life to these ideas.  It was enjoyable having Will sit next to me; he was easily the youngest person in the audience but it just goes to show that great ideas are no discriminator of age; on the drive home, Will and I carried on a lively conversation about what we had heard and what we’d like to see happen next in our community.

Since it’s difficult to recap all the presentations, I offer the following superlatives:

Most convicting talk:  Omid Safi, Islamic Studies Scholar, in his talk  Prophet not Icon: Martin Luther King Jr. in an Age of Empire.  All I can say is WOW! This guy hit it out of the park.  He cautions Americans to not view MLK’s legacy as one singularly about civil rights.  Instead, we should not forget the strong warning MLK gave during his Riverside Talks. It’s true, a prophet is rarely loved in his own land and words of warning from MLK to Americans is much needed today.

Most fun: Acro Yoga. Yep, a cross between yoga and Cirque du-Soleil it was thrilling to watch this couple demonstrate lifts, flips and turns all while patiently explaining how continued dialogue with your partners is critical to achieving success.

Best Delivery: Jerry Linenger, American Astronaut, in his talk, Changing Perspective off the Planet.  Jerry’s clear voice and passion for what he learned in space is infectious.  Not only did he retell a harrowing story about a fire on board the space station, he gave us a 7 minute countdown to what it’s like to take off into space. I can’t think of a better example of a modern day hero.

Best Phrase for the front of a T-Shirt: Presented by John Wood, founder of Room to Read, in his talk, What the World Needs Now…is GSD.  Simply put, Get S*!t Done.  Motivation for me to quit my job.

Most Unexpected:  John Miller, Migratory Beekeeper, in his talk, No Bees, No Food.   I will never see the sweet honey bee in the same way again.  When John finished, I was ready to sign up to save the bees.  Not kidding…if he’d asked for $20 from each participant, I’m positive he would have gotten it.

And, of course, no blog post would be complete without some pics to bring it to life.