Monday, February 6, 2017

TEDx at Allendale Columbia

Like most people, I suspect, I’d never been to a TED or TEDx talk in person – my only experience with them has been watching snippets on youtube. The most memorable one I’d seen was one that explained why most of us tie our shoes the wrong way, and now, every time I tie my shoes, I struggle against my instincts in order to tie them properly!

I applied to attend the upcoming TEDx Rochester (yes, you have to apply to be in the audience!) and was told I am on the wait-list, but in the meantime, Charlie and I got spots at the fifth annual TEDx at Allendale Columbia School this past weekend. The theme was “I AM ___” and each of us was invited to fill in the blank when we registered. It was difficult to choose just one description!

Remarkably, the entire event is run by the students. According to Karyn Vella, Assistant Head for External Affairs, “they curate the speakers, manage all the fundraising and expenses, negotiate contracts, and they do all the set up and tear down.” I'm impressed! The presenters were a mix of community members and students, and unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the last session, but I was impressed with the ones I did attend. Several very poised students acted as emcees, and the day was introduced as one of “ideas worth spreading” (TED’s overarching theme): a day for curiosity, skepticism (nailed it!), and critical thinking, among others.

The first speaker was Dan Schneiderman, who produces the Rochester Mini Maker Faire (something else to put on the list of things to do…). He asked audience members to raise their hands if they considered themselves makers, and several went up. He then described activities like baking, making music, crafting, and asked the question again. Yes, it turned out we are all makers! It certainly gave us a new perspective for sharing the day’s events. Next, Andrew Davidhazy led us through an explanation of cameras that record time, and I felt like I almost understood it. It was one of those times when I was glad that the world is full of so many people with so many different passions and abilities, because without that diversity, our world would be a poorer place. We then watched a fascinating TED video on lifecode – this was definitely an idea whorth sharing!

Jenn Poggi’s talk was about what she learned teaching photojournalism at RIT. The first thing was that she could divide her students into believers, undecided, and doubters, and that those categories were a good indicator of success. It reminded me that I had been a doubter of myself in a creative college course that I ended up dropping, and that fear of failure still prevents me from trying so many things. She also learned that the quality of the students’ work was directly correlated to the timing of their first drafts – the earlier, the better, of course. She related that some students were so reluctant to create a first draft that what they turned in as their final project was effectively just that. I’m sure we can all relate to that…
Linh Phillips, photo
from her website

The final presentation I attended was by Linh Phillips, aka Sir Rocha Says. She started her food and drink blog to help people “fall in love with Rochester,” and when you see the photos of meals she shares, you can’t help but want to dine immediately wherever she was. But her refreshing message was: “I am enough.” She urged us to “stop comparing your worst to everyone else’s best.” Sage advice, especially for those of us who frequently feel that we are not enough in some respect – not attractive enough, not smart enough, not talented enough…

I left Allendale Columbia feeling energized, thoughtful, and encouraged. And I had a great lunch provided by the AC Kitchen Ladies, Headwater Food Hub, Flour City Bread, Cheesy Eddie’s, and Hedonist Chocolate. I hope they do the event again next year, and I have some ideas for people who would make great presenters…

1 comment:

  1. Love this!!! What an awesome activity for the students!