PA – TEDxPhiladelphia 2014

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March 30, 2014 by Dr. G

DSCN3331I purchased the ticket back in December, and finally, the day arrived!  I had attended TEDxPhilly back in 2011, TEDxPhiladelphiaEd in 2011, and organized a couple of TEDxPSU watch parties on campus in 2010 and 2011.  And now, on March 28th with (electronic) ticket in hand, I was heading to the Temple University Performing Arts Center (along with 1,100 other people) for the sold-out 2014 TEDxPhiladelphia event!

Ice sculpture in the lobby of the Arts Center

Ice sculpture in the lobby of the Arts Center

It is not possible to capture the entire day in one blog post, or event multiple blog posts.  When you look at the speaker list, you’ll notice an incredible diversity of speakers on wide-ranging innovative topics and ideas (and there were over 500 people that applied to be a speaker – I can’t imagine how they narrowed down the list).  I’ll be sure to put up a link to the videos for the talks once they appear online, so that you can explore for yourself the theme of The New Workshop of the World.

In the meantime, here are some random statements and questions posed by the speakers that I jotted down in a way-too dark theater that was difficult to take notes in (see my post TEDx says get ready… but keep your device off):

  • What is the Philadelphia you want to live in?
  • Is your work aligned with your values? How can you use it as a tool for good?
  • People come together to solve problems at Indy Hall, N3RD Street Farmers Market (that’s Nerd Street), and apply the Junto Model
  • When shopping for clothes, let’s start to think about the creator behind the creation.  Ten Thousand Villages allows us to start looking at the person with a name tag that has a face, a name, a signature, and time spent making the item (thank you, Dominique Streater, for bringing attention to Fair Trade!)
  • Where you want creativity in business, you need to surround it with creativity (like they do at NextFab, who do some awesome 3D printing!)
  • Philadelphia’s Gayborhood is learning much about anchoring its identity but opening its neighborhoods to everyone, thanks to help from leaders of Chinatown
  • Drexel University’s ExCITe Center is making some impressive smart garments and wearable technology with yarns and garments of the future
  • Billionaires can practice high-input philanthropy, but everyone is able to produce high-impact philanthropy (says The Center for High Impact Philanthropy and their report I’m Not Rockerfeller)
  • Philadelphia is filled with community-centered industries and historic manufacturers, such as R.E.Load Custom Messenger Bags and Disston Saw Works
  • The world is swimming in (music) content – what we need is new activities and experiences and ways to connect people (says Weathervane Music) – like the living room tour of Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, who is connecting people in “crowds” of ~50 people and laying down the foundation for his art
  • The Philadelphia Jazz Project is amazing!

Next was a break for lunch (be sure to check out the photos in these next two tweets!).

Then, the afternoon talks continued…

  • Innovation should be new, different, and better
  • We need to invest and believe in students beyond standardized tests (help them become critical thinkers!)
  • Be mindful of generation differences in design (for example, I would ring a doorbell with my finger, but today’s kids would use their thumb)
  • Just 40% of Philadelphia 9th graders are not graduating four years later.  It is time we start doing what makes sense for young people (h/t to YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School!)
  • A good question from the Philadelphia Gun Crisis Reporting Project – When are you going to do something that really matters?  And how can you wait another day?
  • Sonia Sanchez is an amazing poet that is captivating to watch when she reads her work – but certainly a challenge for a sign language interpreter to keep up with!
  • Medical students are now being taken to art museums to sharpen their observation skills
  • Public spaces are very fragile – you lose them if you don’t take care of them
  • We need to get companies to start caring about accessibility – we have the technology, and accessibility should not be through of as an extra feature (to think on this more, check out Braille Street Art)
  • Growth is happening in all corners of the city, from the Navy Yard to Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund
  • The Musicopia Drumline was an outstanding way to end the program – seeing our talented youth performing high-energy music!


My nametag!  Some people filled in the "Ask Me About" space with topics that ranged from pit bulls to kitchen cabinets.

My name tag! Some people filled in the “Ask Me About” space with topics that ranged from pit bulls to kitchen cabinets.

We also viewed two pre-recorded TED talks during the day – one from Angela Lee Duckworth on The Key To Success? Grit., and one from Derek Sivers on How To Start A Movement.

And did I mention the tables with information and food throughout the day and the event after party?  This was quite an action-packed, full day!  I can’t wait to share some of the local innovations I learned about with students in the fall semester.  I have found that students can always learn more about what is going on in their backyard, and I hope they are inspired (as much as I was!) by all that has happened, is happening, and is yet to happen in Philadelphia.



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