Apr 8, 2014

March Self Actualization - The Part Where Our Minds Get Blown

Jumping all the way back to the beginning.  Friday morning, we were fresh and ready for some excitement!  Mostly, anyway, it hadn't been a great week for catching up on sleep.  I was up stupid early and drove up to Sister2's place in Philly, bringing along Luke, since Significant and I would both be in and around Philadelphia for the next couple days.  I planned for heavy traffic, got none, and arrived in plenty of time to walk dogs (Sister2 and Soon-to-be-Brother have a dog also, named Maverick for his tendencies to be, well, a total pain in the ass.  I mean, this dog has psychological issues in abundance!  But they didn't realize that when they got him.  They just thought he'd be on the slight level of annoying that it's almost cute, like Tom Cruise in that movie.)

So we did that, and chattered excitedly all the way to the TEDx conference, where we slowly, over the course of the day, had our minds blown, and our faith in humanity restored.  I don't even know where to start with summing up the conference.  The theme was Philadelphia, the New Workshop of the World, and the talks ranged from tech, to community, education, and even fashion.  Here's my favorites:

Dominique Streater - Peer to Peer Relationships

Streater was actually a winner on that reality show, Project Runway, and naturally her topic involved fashion.  While her message was interesting and worth considering (she thought we should have more of a peer to peer connection with the people who create the things we wear), it was her presentation that really got my attention.  She started by demonstrating the power of appearance, by stripping out of her baggy sweatpants to reveal the stylish outfit concealed underneath.  I'm also fairly sure her slide presentation used Prezi instead of the more common PowerPoint, and I just blogged about that recently!

Simran Sidhu - A Fresh Start for Our Youth

Sidhu was so impassioned, it was hard not to get swept up in her enthusiasm.  She was discussing the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, which takes young people who have been kicked out or dropped out of other high schools, who are considered "problem" students, and gives them a fresh start.

Austin Seraphin - Accessibility and Challenges for the Blind

Seraphin is actually a neighbor of Sister2 and Soon-to-be-Brother.  Born blind, he works with technology, adapting it to provide accessibility to other blind people.  His story was simply amazing because of the handicap that he has more than overcome and the humor and stoicism with which he deals with everyday issues.  He also summed up his presentation in the most concise and to-the-point way I can think of, "Just f'ing do it."

There were so many speakers and most of them had interesting mannerisms worth discussion and all of them left us with something inspiring.  So I won't go through them all, though I almost feel it's not fair to the others.  From community and discussion of Philly's "gayborhood" to the amazing advances in technology, the conference covered the whole gamut of what makes Philadelphia remarkable.  We listened to poets and musicians, we listened to speakers discuss business, photo-journalism and gun crime, the flaws and potentials in education, we saw more than one Prezi user (which gladdened this graphic designer), and most importantly, we discussed a topic that I had been thinking about already.

Katherina Rosqueta - High Impact Philanthropy

So I hadn't heard this term before, but I had been looking for a charity where I knew where my money was going, and felt like it was going to have a strong impact on fighting the disease, rather than the symptoms.  The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is all about this and they've done all the research as to what charities have the most impact dollar for dollar.  The best example in the presentation was the amount of food you can buy with $10 vs the amount the food bank can obtain for the same amount.  Your $10 at a grocery store will buy the ingredients for a PJB, maybe.  The Food Bank can provide enough food for multiple families for the same amount, because they have free access to overstocked supplies, mislabeled products, and so on, and they just have to pay to transport them to where it's needed.

After listening to Rosqueta's talk, and visiting their website, I've chosen the Nurse Family Partnership as my current charity.  The idea is that a nurse is made available to teach young, low-income parents good habits, so that children can be raised in healthier and safer environments, and also to help them plan for the future, so more of those children can go on to pursue higher education.  I like everything about it.  I like the work that they do, that it's close to home, that it's setting things up for success, rather than trying to come back from failure.

Overall the TEDx Event was full of impassioned speakers and inspiring ideas, but I found a way to improve my life (and hopefully others), and that's really the most important thing.

EDIT: I accidently hit "publish" on this like 2 times, so sorry for those who somehow managed to see it before it was completed!  I'm really done this time.  :P