On Saturday, December 3, 2011, almost 500 minds gathered to be inspired at TEDxSanDiego, held at Irwin M. Jacobs Hall at Qualcomm in San Diego, California.
A day that took the minds and emotions of a sold-out crowd on a roller coaster thrill ride began, literally, with a bang. San Diego Taiko’s energized and energizing performance set the tone for a line-up of 28 speakers and performers to present interpretations of this year’s theme, The World in Our Grasp.
For nearly 8 hours, they demonstrated with personal experiences how anyone who sufficiently inspired can make a difference locally, nationally or even globally. Throughout the day, break sessions provided opportunities to explore various interactive experiences including a photographic installation showing the many faces of America’s homeless, street artist Tracy Lee Strum’s 3D chalk art interpretation of the event logo and graphic recorder Jeannel King’s delightful notes from each presentation.
The event was divided into four sessions and co-emceed by Emmy-award winning news anchor Susan Taylor (who signed off on her final broadcast mere hours before our show began!) and award-winning food writer Troy Johnson.
Session 1: Self
The first session, Self, challenged the audience to explore the expansive power we have as individuals to create the internal transformations that trigger innovation, creativity and action. It began with spoken word artist Sekou Andrews urging us to sprout our stunted wings and fearlessly realize our potential. Other self-challenging presentations ranged from conquering inner demons with lucid dreams, altering our perceptions and reactions, keeping family histories vibrantly alive and dissolving the iron cage of rationalism to free our minds.
Session 2: Community
During Session 2, Community, presenters looked at the meaning of local in a globally connected world and explored ways to bring about lasting, positive change. Topics ranged from rethinking accepted wisdom to find innovative solutions, tapping new sources of community activism and reaching out to new, often neglected segments of our communities including the homeless and under-privileged girls.
Session 3: Global
Session 3 dealt with finding solutions to global problems. Speakers from such diverse disciplines as oceanography, climatology, genomics, bio-mimicry, music and software development demonstrated practical and visionary innovations. Along the way, we journeyed beyond our solar system and through explored coral reefs that hold the promise of cancer cures.
Session 4: Seeds of Change
The final session, Seeds of Change, provided the ideas and inspirations each of us could employ to be active, motivated agents of meaningful change. We heard an impassioned case for teaching civics to our children, learned how simple changes at our family dinner table could help alleviate world hunger and found ways to make creative use of the many crevices in our busy lives. We also got progress reports from five of last year’s presenters on their global projects.
TEDxSanDiego 2011 concluded as it had begun, with Sekou Andrews delivering an rhythmic , upbeat recap of the day’s presentations and all we had experienced in our quest to take the world in our grasp.
Words of Wisdom From Our Attendees
While we asked everyone to go on social silence during the TEDx talks, many of them wrote beautiful reflections about the day after the show. Here’s a sampling of them:
- Neville at Soul Food Friday writes: “Some speakers bent our minds with intellect, others touched our hearts with their kindness and wisdom, some enflamed our courage with their conviction and bravery, while others reached our soul with music, poetry and metaphor.”
- Mark Lovett at Global Patriot says: “I was captivated by Martha Beck’s insights on ancient wisdom while she confronted an African rhinoceros, and offered up the notion that what we often think of as magic, is simply a matter of tuning into nature…”
- Anne McColl created a wonderful Storify: ”I was thrilled to attend the first TEDx San Diego last year so naturally, my expectations for this (year’s show) were very high. I wasn’t disappointed in the least.”
- Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts writes: “Very inspiring day of TED talks.”
- Denise Lee Young (who also served on the TEDx team), put together a slideshow of the day and says: “It was an energizing, inspiring, and challenging day as we discovered ideas worth spreading.”
- Tiffany Fox from ThisWeek@UCSanDiego notes: “The young, wired and inspired turned out in full force for the event, filling the 543-seat Qualcomm auditorium in Sorrento Valley to maximum capacity and, at one point, bringing down the wireless giant’s in-house Wi-Fi service with their laptops and smartphones.”
- Monika blogs: “At some point during her talk (Ellen Gustafson) mentioned her age and I marveled that someone only a couple of years younger than me had done something so amazing. This was actually a common theme through out the day. Older or younger, all of these people had done amazing things.”
- Etienne de Bruin tweets: “Everything about @TEDxSanDiego was a rush. But this moment was epic…“