TEDx Charlottesville Open Mic Night: The Difference That Makes The Difference

October 13, 2013

Charlottesville has scheduled to host a TEDx conference this coming November. They have a great line up of speakers, promising to tell us what difference they think will make the difference, as prompted by this years TEDx theme. This year however, they decided to give people the opportunity to submit their ideas and participate in a TEDx "open mic night". 30 speakers were chosen and given 2 minutes to pitch their TEDx talk idea to the public audience at the Jefferson Theater. After all of the speakers had gone, the audience voted on who they thought had the best idea, giving the winner a 5 minute time slot during the TEDx talk in November. There was a wide range of ideas making it a very thought-provoking night. Here are the ideas we heard:  

1. David Feng - What is Magic? Magic has the ability to bring out our inner child. It makes us feel hopeful, allows us to believe in anything, and makes us question reality.

2. Kristen Roorbach Jamison, M.T., PH.D - Letting Go: How a Lesson From My Children Changed My Research and My Life. Having to care for 2 young kids with her husband checked into a mental ward with PSTD, Kristen told us the value of being honest as a parent and how this realization changed her dissertation on raising emotionally intelligent children.

3. Jamie Cato - Making a Difference One Student at a Time The Oakland school and the Oakland way has helped students since 1950. Accommodating many different learning styles and increasing one-on-one teaching opportunities is the difference that makes a difference.

4. Adam Nemett - Not Hot Crossed Buns The MIMA method of learning allows students the structure and freedom necessary to create music. Stepping away from the structural, classic teaching of "Hot Crossed Buns", MIMA encourages improvisation and is being taught in 25 countries across the world.

5. Seth Neel Whitten - Looking Difference in the Eye Wintergreen Adaptive Sports grabs the curiosity of skiers and snowboarders in the hopes of changing the perception about disability. They encourage seeing difference differently, seeing teachers and students learn how to get to the bottom of a hill, rather than seeing only disability.

6. Laura Meyer - Mindless to Mindful: The Mistake That Made Me A mistake she made at 19 played a role in the decisions she made for the rest of her life. Every education and career choice she made, she reflected on her past. Now working at the University of Virginia with opiate addicts, she hopes to help them better their futures.

7. Stuart A. Kessler - Innovations in Housing for Seniors Baby boomers are getting older and are reluctant to be put in assisted living houses to "vegetate". Creating indicators that keep track of seemingly mundane activities like opening the refrigerator, can be used to alert someone if it has been a long time since activity has taken place. This will allow baby boomers to live comfortably and safely in their own homes. 

8. Lindsay Nebeker - Autism and Love What if love required only presence? Imagine trying to love someone when you are stubbornly attached to your rituals. To be autistic and in love creates a new definition of how we can understand what it means to be loved and to be in love.

9. John Santoski - From Exclusion to Inclusion in a Time of Technological Change Our understanding of disabilities has increased significantly as technology has continued to advance. With this advanced technology and new knowledge, now the challenge is to figure out how to bring people with disabilities back into our community.

10. Massoud Adibpour - Honk if You Love Someone Item number 53 on Massoud's "bucket list" was to, "Hold up a sign on a busy street in DC that says, 'Honk if you love someone.'" Positivity is contagious and simple acts of kindness can make all the difference.

11. Robert Van de Castle - Understanding What You See at Night With Your Eyes Closed We are all equal opportunity dreamers. We experience 100,000 dreams in our lifetime, 100,000 opportunities to change the lives we live. What difference can our dreams make in our lives?

12. Tod Cohen - Stopping the Speed of Life...With Photography Photography allows us to slow things down. Cameras allow us to stop time and connect with our personal history. Tod tells us not to miss our moment; it could make the difference.

13. Laurie Matson Fear - From Negativity to Positivity - Rewiring the Brain for Survival in the 21st Century Our body has a negativity bias. We internalize negative experiences more often than positive ones. If we rewire our brains to internalize positive experiences, we can create a more kind and compassionate existence for ourselves.

14. Art Wheeler - Big Bang, Big Bloom The history of the world and our existence through humor. Our universe has such a rich and intriguing history that all we need to live a positive life is love and forgiveness. Love and forgiveness.

15. Kim Wilkens - Where Are the Girls?   Girls are five times less likely to consider a career in technology, and by age 13 develop a positive or negative attitude toward computer science. "Tech Girls" tries to empower girls and help them imagine their role in the development of our technological world.

16. Holly Chen - A Bottom Up Solution to Energy Efficiency - The Intelligent Service Panel The intelligent service panel uses advanced technologies and a bottom up approach to increase energy efficiency and help solve the increasing global demand for energy and the environmental impact of fossil fuels.

17. Bernard Beitman - Connecting to Coincidence Coincidences are common and useful. We think about something important to us, and that thing happens. Brain sciences are now discovering that these coincidences come from a GPS-like system in our brain. How might this GPS system help us navigate our relationships, health, and work?

18. Ted Millich - Sociocracy We should abandon our authoritarian systems and choose sociocracy. Based in equality and eliminating power centralization, sociocracy provides a way to create peace and eradicate poverty.

19. Blue O'Connell - C.A.R.E. Packages As a therapeutic musician for hospital patients, Blue has witnessed a few miraculous recoveries. She shared many scenarios in which caring made all the difference. She enlightened us on the strength and affect caring can have on other people.

20. Renee Branson - The Mediocrity Principle and Parenting The mediocre mom: moms who just get by with an open box of plastic forks, found at home last minute for your child to take to their class picnic. It is these mediocre touch points of parenting that will make a difference. Renee tells parents out there to lower the bar of parenting to raise amazing children.

21. Dan Pabst - Coffe: The Virtuous Cycle of Quality Buying a cup of coffee for $1.00 and buying a cup of coffee for $7.00 is the difference of convenience over quality. If we start choosing quality over convenience, the demand for quality products will drive their prices down making them more competitive with the inexpensive, convenient products. Choosing quality helps give local farms, breweries, companies a greater likelihood to compete with the producers of these convenient products.

22. Darius Nabor - A New Take on the Bucket List Before Darius turns 30, he plans to accomplish a few things, like making reading a habit and wearing 100 wolf t-shirts. He encouraged us to realize our dreams within your means. We shouldn't merely attempt to achieve our dreams, but put a plan in action to execute them.

23. Denise Stewart - Creating in the Midst of Chaos Even if the time does not seem right, you feel like you are too busy, Denise tells us not to hesitate to have our "creative baby." You never know, someone may have the same idea and beat you to the punch. We should not confuse spontaneity with creativity. Don't let chaos deter you from pursuing what you most desire.

24. Frederick Jackson - Undefeated Through spoken word, we learned the importance of inspiration, determination, excitement and resilience. We should never allow ourselves to give up.

25. Hawa Ahmed - When the Poor Feel Rich Hawa defined poverty as, "not living up to your full potential." As a current UVA student, Hawa told us how her time at the university has made her feel wealthy, and why colleges should invest in low-income students.

26. Joyce McCusty - Align Your Assets Feelings of self-loathing come from a misalignment of our mind, body, spirit, and emotions. If we can align our assets and utilize what we have, we can let it serve us and achieve great things. We need to question any misalignment in our lives in order to realize our full potential and utilize it.

27. Kevin Warren - Ethics and Perception We think that the world is coming at us. If we realize that "seeds" planted in our mind and hearts that tell us, "what makes a pen a pen?", we can reevaluate the way we experience the world. If we correct our misperception that that world is coming at us, we may be able to achieve peace and avoid war.

28. Lena Shi - So, What Do You Do The Up to Us campaign encourages students to think about policy that will affect their generation. The lesson we must all learn is that it is up to us to choose what we do in the jobs we take: we must not let job descriptions and expectations be what defines us.   The winner of the night was Darius Nobars and his new conception of the classic "bucket list." The audience was curious to know what else is on his bucket list--we'll find out in November at the official TEDx Charlottesville event! In the meantime, check them out on Facebook! By Alison Kuhn.

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