Jazz trio Moon Hooch - known for causing spontaneous raves in New York City subway stations – kicked off the recent TEDxAtlanta conference with the musical equivalent of the event’s theme, “Bold Moves.” The raw, kinetic sounds of saxophones and drums electrified the room and set the energy at maximum volume.
As the presenters took the stage to deliver the “talk of their life,” a common thread wove throughout the fabric of the afternoon: the collective will of many who shift their thinking can change lives, change cities, even change the world. A bold move can be as subtle as meeting our most challenging issues with compassion.
“It’s too late to bring them back to life, but it’s not too late to give their lives meaning,” says Hank Klibanoff, of the efforts of his Emory University journalism students who are shining a light on racially motivated cold cases from the civil rights era.
Attorney Jonathan Rapping knows, “it’s really hard to be a caring lawyer. Caring is painful.” His organization, Gideon’s Promise, is inspiring a new generation of public defenders facing “the nation’s greatest civil rights issue today” – the tragic shortage of representation for those who can’t afford a lawyer.
Jasmine Burton's empathic approach to industrial design is restoring dignity and hope to millions who live in countries with little or no sanitation measures.
Susanna Spiccia asks “What would it take for a child to go from apathy to action?” At re:imagine/ATL, it’s empowerment – and a large dose of her infectious optimism – that are changing our city one young person at a time.
“Underperforming asphalt” is what Amanda Rhein thinks about every day. Atlanta’s rapid transit system, MARTA, is leading conversations about public spaces, expanding not only underground but above, transforming lifeless parking lots into vibrant mixed-use centers.
The afternoon saw more mind-opening talks. Dr. Gregory Berns is using MRI technology to finally find out what our dogs are thinking (they are!). Lee Thomas highlighted the far-reaching positive impacts of the booming film industry in Georgia. And DeShawn Jenkins shifted the focus to Africa, where Atlanta is making a difference through arts and culture.
Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, challenged attendees to become part of a leadership cohort that will prepare Atlanta and its infrastructure for the 3 million new neighbors who will arrive in the next 25 years. Sheri Davis-Faulkner is already part of that cohort, leading bold moves that are uplifting some of Atlanta’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
One of the most compelling talks of the day was given by a speaker who was not actually there. Re-broadcast from the TED2015 “Truth and Dare” conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monica Lewinsky broke her decade-long silence with a plea to collectively bring compassion to the impersonal world of social media, and end public shaming that is literally costing lives.
Muss & Turner’s – a TEDxAtlanta favorite – provided light hors d'oeuvres. With its bold move from its former venue at the offices of strategy + design firm Unboundary to the Ferst Center on the campus of Georgia Tech, this year’s inaugural conference in its new home opened minds, raised hope and inspired compassion.
TEDx Atlanta is made possible through sponsorships and volunteer efforts. Organizing sponsors were Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Turner Broadcasting and Unboundary. Contributing sponsors were The Bill & Melinda Nussey Foundation and the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta.