A Day of Imagination, Inspiration & Innovation

(Community Matters) Hard for our family to be any more enthusiastic about TEDxAustin, its founders (Nancy Giordano & Jen Spencer) and their team – Stacy Weitzer (co-curator), Mary Baird-Wilcox, Lionel Felix, Romy Suskin, Shannon Mehner, Kelley Burrus, Jerry Giordano and Jennifer Loveland.

Robyn O’Brien had the audience on their seat’s edge as she shed light on the food industry – citing high US cancer rates ever since bio-engineering of American farm produce (which isn’t allowed in Europe or other Western countries and their cancer rates are materially lower). Joaquin Zihuatanejo brought me to tears reciting poetry in street cadence, reflecting on violence & the heritage of sacrifice among youth – watch Joaquin here.

Gregory Kallenberg, the writer, producer and director, spoke about his award-winning documentary, Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future. He cited a startling fact: 30k people die every year from the effects of coal burning plants in their “neighborhoods.” Made me ask, if burning coal kills 30,000 Americans every year, why isn’t burning coal declared a terrorist act? Osama Bedier, whose recent jump from Pay Pal to Google was heard all around the tech world,  couldn’t travel to Austin because of a bad back but gave a striking presentation (via Skype) on digital money – the world of money as we know it will change completely in the next few years. Sylvia Acevedo gave her highly refined, well-honed Texas demographic pitch; I loved the new frame – what’s Texas’ opportunity. Flint Sparks reminded the audience to pause & reflect – and to give blessings for our gifts as well as being mindful of our failings. Gilbert Tuhabonye, the runner who escaped the machettes of his torturers in Burundi, Africa reminded us to “run with love.” Sunny Vanderbeck opened the morning’s presentations talking about sustainable capitalism, provoking the audience with an opening line that “capitalism is dead,” though further clarifying that ego-centric capitalism generates low returns, while multi-stakeholder centric capitalism generates relative 100x returns. We’re currently suffering short term-itis. My young friends from Mother Falcon opened the day (ought to attend their concert/CD release next Saturday!) and Jason Neulander’s Intergalactic Nemesis riveted the audience during the afternoon (my buddy Buzz Moran, et al). Allyson Peerman (AMD), Oliver (Dell) & Esther Havens (photographer) told quick and compelling stories. Allyson wildly launched my imagination, thinking about the efficacy and productivity opportunities technology offers education.

Unfortunately, Steven and I had to sneak off early because of another pressing engagement, so we missed presentations by Gary Thompson, Lionel Tiger, Tavo Hellmund and Dustin Haisler.

So many friends and colleagues were in attendance, including Adam Butler, Nick Ducoff, Joshua Baer, Joene Grissom, Brenda Thompson, Cesar Torres, Austan Gunter, Chad Holmes, Karen Ford, Suzanne Deal Booth, Nona Niland, Dave Shaw, Josh Jones-Dilworth, Karen Kelly, Sharon Lyle, Kirk Drummond, Lyn Graft, Isaac Winburne, Matt Puckett, Claire Puckett, Maurice Chammah, Kristin Gossett, Fran McGee and heaps of others.

Steven and I remain both full in – he & his partners (Margaret Keys & Nancy Graves) helped coach many of yesterday’s presenters and the Entrepreneurs Foundation is a founding sponsor and the 501(c)(3) through which the event is produced. TEDxAustin is a gift to our community. Nancy’s, Jen’s and Stacey’s team works on this the entire year. Mary waves a magic wand. And, we’re transported into our and others’ heads for a day of imagination, inspiration and innovation.

One response to “A Day of Imagination, Inspiration & Innovation

  1. You should check out NerdNite sometime. http://austin.nerdnite.com/

    Similar in that it is a local branch of a program that started elsewhere (New York, I think). Also features talks on interesting topics (usually three per month).

    It’s really much more of a fit for Austin, though. Much less formal, more relaxed, anyone can attend, most of the audience is below 35, and there aren’t event planners and public relations people running around producing the show. Much more grass roots.

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