September 13, 2011


How appropriate that Chuck Leavell got up from his seat in the audience and made his way to the bench waiting for him in front of a Yamaha C7 grand piano. Balance, those who attended or tuned in would learn over the course of the afternoon, requires that we come into a clearing together, to both listen to the stories of others and to share our own.

Leavell used that piano to nudge the audience out of its workday mindset and into the clearing, but he did something more: He shared his memories of how his love for piano is rooted in listening to his mother play; He shared his concern and passion for the future of our environment and communities. And then, having shared his stories, he took his seat, back in the audience, to listen.

Balance, the day also revealed, is in how we use both our memories and our dreams for the future to be present in this moment.

Teresa Amabile shared stories that revealed that it is small actions that can solve the “crisis of engagement” that plagues the workplace. Chuck Raison challenged us to recognize that our enemies are not the people we believe them to be, but the fear and anger we feel toward those people. John McFall helped us feel the power of dance to help us find joy, confidence and even our potential. Rita Charon healed us with her stories about narrative medicine, which has proven the efficacy of story and relationship.

Balance took on yet a different dimension when the harmonies of The Holmes Brothers opened the second session of the afternoon. Radcliffe Bailey revealed both through his stories and his amazing works how he has woven bits and bobs of his entire family history into maps that help us navigate the world ahead. Radcliffe also demonstrated a balance that only emerges from equanimity and authenticity.

Greg Best, one of America’s most celebrated mixologists, remixed and rebalanced our view of the bartender and the social role they play. Hugh Acheson used stories of his relationship with Tim Mills and Mills Farm to underscore that communities not only find balance but have impact when they support and nurture local businesses.

In the middle of the program, a special tribute was paid to the late Ray Anderson. TEDxAtlanta traces its own roots to a luncheon talk given by Anderson for Unboundary, which was the founding sponsor and is now one of three organizing sponsors of TEDxAtlanta. Anderson’s remarkable TED Talk was one of the videos shown. So appropriate that in Ray’s TED Talk he focused on his vision of rebalancing the Erhlich’s Environmental Impact Equation.

No recap of TEDxAtlanta would be complete without thanks to its sponsors, to the community of attendees and webcast watchers, and the volunteers involved in its production.