Yesterday I went to the TEDx East Conference at the NY Times building. What a wonderful array of speakers and performers. If you’re not aware of TED.com, you should be. TED’s slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It is a non-profit dedicated to showing off all kinds of people’s ideas and capabilities.
It was started in 1984 to bring together Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) but has grown to include everything interesting and innovative. People speak or perform for 18 minutes max. There is a 4 day conference in southern California and a global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. Many of the talks/performances then appear on the TED.com website.
Then there are TEDx events that are organized independently locally all over the world. Yesterday at TEDx East there were 19 presentations and performances broken into 3 segments with plenty of time to meet fellow attendees. The theme was ‘Tinker, Noodle and Obsess’. So in addition to the presentations there was a whole area of tinker toys to play with and blocks to build with. One of the biggest attractions, however, are the other 400 attendees, people who are attracted to the innovation, discovery, and fascination with people who think and accomplish along new frontiers. There was time between the segments to have conversations, meet new people, get exposed to differing viewpoints.
Of the 19 presentations a few stood out. Bjarke Inlges is a Danish architect who showed pictures and designs of buildings where sustainability adds to the beauty and functionality of a building. He’s breaking ground on a new building on the west side in September. Christine McCaul and Anthony Rudolf spoke from two different viewpoints about personalized humanity when it comes to employees and customers. Charlie Wurm talked about his design of an electric car which he has built for himself at a fraction of what other designs have cost. I sat next to him later in the day and we had a great conversation. He has no plans to commercialize his inventions. He’s just a self-motivated tinkerer. I’m not too big on poetry but Sarah Kay delivered a couple of her poems with such power that she was a hit of the day. Will Ryman created the flower sculptures that currently grace Park Avenue. He spoke about his metamorphosis from a playwright to a sculptor. Producer David Binder spoke about how ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ came to be on Broadway. Ari Meisel told the riveting story of how he overcame Crohn’s disease through nutrition and exercise. Then there was rapper Baba Brinkman encouraging women to use sexual selection to mate with nice men, not mean men, and the band ‘Caravan of Thieves’ getting the audience involved in foot stomping hand clapping revelry.