TEDx is a program that allows communities to organize independent events that follow TED's guidelines, principles, and ideals. Last Wednesday's event at the historic Asolo Theater was Sarasota's first TEDx event. It was also my first TED experience.
I've been a fan of TED and their mission of sharing "ideas worth spreading" for years, but I never thought I'd have the opportunity to attend an event. But then atLarge's founder Anand Pallegar was chosen to emcee. He asked me to help backstage, and the next thing I knew I had one of the best seats in the house for one of the most inspiring events I've ever experienced.
From rockstars and rebels to a Reiki master, from slide guitar mastery to nuclear fusion experiments, from hula-hooping to mindful meditation, the first section of our day was focused on connections. Connecting with others, connecting with yourself, connecting with the outside world. Each speaker provided their own insight about the transformative power of connection, how connections ignite creativity, foster empathy toward others and teach us valuable lessons about our world and ourselves. After we broke for lunch, I walked through the WonderZone. I could feel the positive energy of the crowd and hear people discussing the presentations with strangers, making connections and inspiring each other.
The second part of the day revolved around change. Change is an essential element in all of our journeys, and in the journey of humanity we make together. The presenters shared their stories of how change offered new insights and solutions to problems facing our world today. A dramatic shift in educational methodology led to more engaged, and more successful students. Looking at a tool in a new light suddenly opens up possibilities for it far beyond its primary application. There were also dancing Shaggles and a Space Man.
For me, the Creating Change section resonated strongly. We live in an area of Florida ready for change and full of opportunities for change. We must seek out those opportunities, foster new ideas, take risks, and support one another. We have amazing minds living here; if we work together we could be an epicenter for arts and technology to rival California and New York. It's all here for us, we just have to step out and make it happen.
Before I knew, our day was almost over. Our final presenters combined connectivity with change, which culminates in opportunity. From my view backstage, I laughed with Les McCurdy and his tale of opportunity chasing him down and forcing him to pursue a forgotten dream, I was moved by Scout Basset's indomitable courage to be who she wanted to be despite any odds or challenges, and I was awed by the grace and dignity of the people in Christopher Lambe's presentation about sustainable farming. But it was Clyde Butcher's story of following his passion, and his gorgeous photographs of the Florida few people recognize, that left me breathless.
It was a day of music, art, dance, science, nature, technology and humanity. TEDxSarasota presented our community with problems big and small, local and global, and it also inspired - at least in me - a desire to help discover the solutions. For me, the question of Why Creativity Matters is one easily answered. Creativity is what allows us to imagine a better world. Connections, change, and opportunity are what give us the power to make that world possible.