Thursday, October 20, 2011

TEDx San Antonio--dynamite for your mind

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Last Saturday, I attended the 2nd annual TEDx San Antonio event at the Stieren Theater located on the Trinity University campus. TEDx (x is for independent) is a locally organized version of the highly acclaimed TED events. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to 'Ideas Worth Spreading.' After starting out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from Technology, Entertainment and Design, local events were given the go-ahead in 2009. Since then, more than 1,000 TEDx events have been organized across the globe. After listening to 17 live speakers, two previously recorded TED talk videos, and a chamber music ensemble, I thought my head would explode--but in a good way. Though I went primarily to listen to those representing San Antonio nonprofits, I was blown away by most every speaker who took the stage. Delighted by the cultural and ethnic diversity of the speakers, I was disappointed only three of the 19 were women. G.P. Singh, a Sikh by faith, successful technology entrepreneur, and philanthropist came to the U.S. with $8 in his pocket. When Singh spoke of his personal experiences he said, "Where some people see seeds, others envision a forest." I thought probably everyone at the event had looked at their own seed and saw lots of trees. Gordon Hartman, Janie Barrera, and Pamela Taylor--all three representing San Antonio nonprofits--shared significant personal stories of inspiration and a deep desire to serve others. Inspired by his own daughter, Gordon Hartman's idea of an outdoor activities park where inclusion is key, blossomed into Morgan's Wonderland. This unique $35 million model park facility was created for persons with disabilities and their families. It has also planted seeds for similar efforts across the world. Although Hartman gave a moving speech, several people remarked to me they wish he'd shown pictures of the park.

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ACCION Texas Inc. grew into a multi-state nonprofit which provides micro and small business loans and financial education. President and CEO Janie Barrera told the audience, "Credit comes for the Latin word 'to believe,' and at ACCION, we believe supporting social entrepreneurship and economic development helps break the cycle of poverty." Barrera sees a mighty forest in her dream for ACCION's new Learning and Lending Center and the plan to become the first micro-lender to be self-sufficient. Pamela Taylor told a personal tale of domestic abuse. But she didn't dwell on the damages, only her survival and the end result--Dress for Success®. "Giving back is the rent we pay for living on the planet," said Taylor. Dress for Success® is not a clothing store. Through a multi-layered program, they provide for the needs of low-income women 'by promoting economic security and self-sufficiency to break the chains of generational poverty through job preparation, employment retention and career development programs.' Taylor's organization has grown into 114 affiliates in 11 countries. If anyone had doubts about the rich culture and nimble, inventive minds of San Antonio residents, they would have been dispelled by attending this event. TEDx San Antonio was organized completely by an energetic group of volunteers and hosted by Trinity University. It was a great event. But, because I can, I'd like to offer a few suggestions. AV preparation: There were multiple hiccups with the live streaming and AV in the theater. Too many times the slides on the overhead failed to work properly. Sound management is essential. Remember some of us may have a hearing disability. To better stay on schedule, I suggest quality over quantity with the choice of speakers for next year. Also, the speed talking Scotsman video was practically unintelligible. For more from Laura Carter follow @lauracarter or visit A Small Blog Photos courtesy of TEDx San Antonio (rights reserved) Photo of Gordon Hartman by Nan Palmero, Photo of Janie Barrera by Carlos A. Pena II

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