Sixth live TEDxGreensboro event to span subjects of wonder
By: Jessica Clifford
Starting in 2013, the internationally-known TED organization gave Greensboro permission to produce their own local live speaker event, with a new theme each year. This year’s theme is all things that make us “wonder,” with subjects ranging from technology to art to science to history and even to the paranormal.
As is every other year, this year a smaller committee brainstormed a few options for the theme, and a larger committee vetted the list and finally selected “wonder.”
Richard “Skip” Moore, the license holder and planning chair for TEDxGreensboro, referenced the theme as having two aspects.
“One is, I wonder if or I wonder what would happen if and that’s the kind of thing that leads to research,” he said. “The other is, look at the wonder of it all, the awe, the splendor of the world.”
Every fall, TEDxGreensboro invites community members to enter a TEDtalk proposal, telling one of the committees what they want to share with audiences. This year a total of 95 entries were made. Other than the proposals, another committee locates accomplished people in the area to speak about their work.
“We try to have a variety of topics and speakers and approaches to balance it all out,” Moore said.
The list of topics is vast, with some speaking on art, such as Jessica Kay Ruhle, the director of education of public programs at Duke University Nasher Museum of Art and the founder and director of the Reflections Program.
Ruhle will discuss the 4-year-old program that gives dementia tours of the Nasher. She will talk about how visitor’s diagnosed with dementia feel from the experience and the dual purpose of having the tours.
“It’s really clear that art is a really powerful way to communicate with folks with dementia,” she said. “Our program started with this question of ‘I wonder how we could be available to this audience?’”
Other art-inspired TEDtalks include Stephen van Vuuren, the founder of SV2 Studios, which produces film, digital cinema, animation and more for people regionally and nationally. The filmmaker will talk about his soon-to-be-released project, entitled “In Saturn’s Rings,” in which he used over 7.5 million photographs best suited for IMAX or large dome planetariums.
A slightly unconventional talk will feature material from My Son and Driving Miss Daisy. Shelley Stolaroff Segal, the mastermind behind this talk, is a playwright, who wrote My Son. The play uses personal anecdotes from her life as a mother raising an autistic son, and her friend’s life of raising a black teenager.
“The plays are interwoven because they are saying the same thing,” Segal said, mentioning the nonfiction plays shared topics of empathy, discrimination and bigotry. “I think it is better to show the idea than tell.”
Segal said the plays are supposed to show a timeline of social issues in the mid-to-late 1900s to the early 2000s.
“It’s just a very personal experience,” she said. “So, maybe after people hear the ‘talk,” they will wonder about things differently; they will reconsider certain social issues.”
Technological improvements in the fields of science and economics will also be highlighted.
Nir Ksherti, professor of management at the University of North Carolina Greensboro Bryan School and research fellow at Kobe University, will feature his recent research on ways to assist the poorest countries around the world using Bitcoin and Blockchain.
Handpicked speaker, Joseph Starobin, an associate professor of nanoscience at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro, will discuss his recent work designing an improved heart monitor that predicts cardiac ischemia and cardiac arrhythmias.
Elizabeth Wayne, Ph.D., an NIH Carolina Center for Nanotechnology Training Program T32 postdoctoral fellow in the Carolina Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, was a 2017 TED Fellow. She was designated the fellowship for her work advocating for more women to join academia and specifically the sciences. Wayne will talk about her recent research about using immune cells to fight cancer.
The subject of the paranormal will also find its way into the event. Deonna Kelli Sayed, creative nonfiction and short story writer, will talk about her past work as a paranormal field researcher.
“It’s not really about ghosts, but more about us as people,” Sayed said. “The biggest lesson I have learned from ghost hunting is how to confront personal fears, and I hope to inspire people to do that through my talk.”
Ten sessions of speakers will take the stage, with no one speaking longer than 18 minutes each. In between the talks will be entertainment by Theatre of Movement, Graymatter, Shared Madness and students from the Walsh Kelley School of Irish Dancing.
“Some people will like all of them, some will not like some of them,” said Moore, referencing the speakers. “But, hopefully, everybody will find something to like.”
For a full list of speakers and their biographies, go to www.tedxgreensboro.com/.
Those that cannot attend the live event can watch a live stream version at local universities and retirement centers in Greensboro.
Jessica Clifford is a senior at UNCG, majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in English.