TEDxJacksonville: Introducing the Speakers

TEDxJacksonville has picked an incredible group of people to speak at the TEDxJacksonville event.

Published October 18, 2014 in Culture - MetroJacksonville.com

Session 1: Unrestricted

Local, Environmental lawyer

Belonging to the Universe

Warren Anderson has lived in Jacksonville since he was a child, other than attending Wake Forest University and the University of Florida School of Law. He served as a state prosecutor for five years; since the early 1980s, his law practice has focused on civil litigation, including pro-environmental cases. Warren has been in leadership roles in the Sierra Club, Riverkeeper, The Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation, and the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute where his emphasis is on protecting and enhancing the “special places” of Northeast Florida. Warren and his wife Diana have four sons and live in Neptune Beach, Florida.

1) Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

 Doug Coleman suggested I apply.

2) What is your favorite TED Talk?   Hank Coxe.

3) What does (un)knowing mean to you?    H

ubris and Humility -- excitement about being able to know and understand matters which are of ultimate concern, yet at the same time realizing there is impenetrable mystery.

4) What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?  

That there can be unity in diversity, that we have common ancestors of the land we walk on every day -- the ancient Native Americans who lived here thousands of years before European contact in 1562 -- we belong to something bigger than our little selves.

We Don't Have a Privacy Problem

Cullen Hoback is an American filmmaker and digital rights advocate who has been touring the world with his most recent documentary TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY (2013). Hoback has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, Fox, Huffpo Live, etc. and has written op-eds for The Guardian and other major media outlets. He has won numerous awards, and his films have played in theaters and on TV stations around the world. Hoback is currently developing a slate of films (documentaries and narratives), all with a clear social purpose.

Art, a Powerful Conduit for Change

Though much of his life has been spent as a graphic designer and critically acclaimed studio artist, it was Chip Southworth’s provocative street art that catapulted him to folk hero status in Northeast Florida just over three years ago.

In 2011, Chip was at the top of the local art scene, having just completed two major regional one-man shows. But the city was experiencing heightened racial tensions because Jacksonville’s City Council had again failed to pass a Human Rights Ordinance. Taking to the streets as “Keith Haring’s Ghost,” Chip anonymously painted Keith Haring-inspired pieces on public utility boxes in the dark of night over a seven-month period. The street art sparked conversation and controversy, culminating with a raid on his home and police taking the artist into custody. Chip’s identity and mugshot adorned the front page of the paper and newscasts for days, and spurred an unprecedented amount of public dialogue and support.

In the ensuing years, Chip’s artistic output has been prolific; his modern, large-scale works have been described as daunting, exciting and emotional. In his TEDxJacksonville talk, Chip brings us his experiences and explores the notion that by (un)learning the current laws and attitudes that govern street art, we can have a major impact on a city, its economic development, and its occupants, and even forge a new civic identity.

photo credit: Dennis Ho

Re-Imagining Urban Space

Alasdair (‘Ali’) Butcher is a geographer, historian, and city enthusiast from Vancouver, Canada. After graduating from the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia he took his passion for urban topics to the streets, founding Vancity Detours and guiding people through the lesser-known neighbourhoods and histories of the city.  In 2011 he joined with Tour Guys Vancouver, a collective of story tellers, history nerds, and pop-culture buffs who revel in exposing locals and visitors alike to Vancouver’s unique brand of urbanism. He is particularly interested in how the changing physical form of the city reveals the changing values and priorities of its inhabitants.

In his spare time he enjoys hiking mountains, eating off-cuts, and fostering a psychotic whippet Chihuahua.

1. I applied to give a Talk at TEDx Jacksonville because I want to share some new visions of urban space and landscapes that are worth exploring. I want to look at ways in which we can re-purpose built space and re-value creativity and sustainability within those built forms.

2. My Favourite TED Talk is Ken Robinson's 'How Schools Kill Creativity'. His critique of the ways in which unequal worth is ascribed to different human traits in the education system should be extended to other institutions, including urban planning and development.  

3. (Un)knowing is about stepping back and reflecting before moving forward. It's not so much about obliterating the old way of thinking, as it is shedding the negative habits that have become embedded and constantly searching for ways to improve. So much of what we accept as 'inevitable' is actually an over-reliance on what we 'know'. And so hopefully by (un)knowing we can change our trajectory in positive and meaningful ways.  

4. That's a very broad question! With regards to my talk, I wish we could (un)know some of the values that inform the way we construct our cities. Many people take for granted that privacy trumps community, that automobiles reign over other forms transport, that functionality leaves no place for creativity, or that production takes priority over sustainability. Thankfully cracks in the old mould are starting to appear...

Where Am I? The Power of Uniqueness

Ed McMahon holds the Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC where he is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and leading authority on economic development and land use polices and trends. As the Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development McMahon leads ULI’s worldwide efforts to conduct research and educational activities related to environmentally sensitive development policies and practices.

Before joining the Urban Land Institute in 2004, McMahon spent 14 years as the Vice President and Director of Land Use Planning for The Conservation Fund in Arlington, Virginia where he helped to protect more than five million acres of land of historic or natural significance. He is also the co-founder and former President of Scenic America, a national non-profit organization devoted to protecting America’s scenic landscapes. Before that, he taught law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center for nine years, and served in the U.S. Army, both at home and abroad. McMahon is the author or co-author of 15 books and over 300 articles. McMahon has served on numerous advisory boards and commissions including: the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Maryland, The Governor’s Institute for Community Design, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Orton Family Foundation. McMahon has a B.S. from Spring Hill College, an M.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Alabama, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School. He and his wife live in Takoma Park, Maryland.

When Your Mind Works Against You

Ted Powell helps organizations, teams and people thrive in business while living their dreams.

Since 1995, he’s been a Managing Partner at Stop At Nothing, Inc, a 25-year-old Jacksonville-based consulting firm. Prior to that, he enjoyed a 14-year marketing career with American Express and AT&T. In coaching and observing hundreds of leaders throughout the world, Ted saw that self-awareness and personal responsibility (or lack thereof) contributed more to success or failure than any other leadership skill. By facilitating break-through learning experiences for teams and individuals, Ted realizes his dream of helping leaders maintain healthy, creative, and inspired environments, where people can collaborate and create to their fullest potential.

Ted has also been challenged to apply these experiences in contributing to the health and well-being of his family, which include his wife Nancy, and their “early-20” children, Laura Jane, Teddy and Scott. Work/life balance, practiced imperfectly, is one of his most passionate hobbies. Ted grew up in Memphis, TN before obtaining a B.A. in Economics at the University of Virginia in 1981.

Why Did I Apply?

As a 23-year Jacksonville resident and transplant, I want to help our city expand and strengthen its role in promoting the constructive dialogue, creative thinking, and collective energy required to solve complex problems in our rapidly changing world. We are on the cusp of elevating Jacksonville’s stature and influence, I’m grateful to play a small part in that progress.

What Is My Favorite Ted Talk?

My current favorite is Drew Dudley’s 6-minute “Leading with Lollipops”. Drew delivers a succinct and powerful punch that inspires people to recognize the substantial influence they have on each and every life they touch.

What Does Unknowing Mean To Me?

Letting go of invalid beliefs or faulty thinking that I embrace out of my fear of change or my unhealthy desire to stay comfortable. People’s ability to wander into a place of unknowing has always been the catalyst for our greatest human achievements, whether it be the Wright brothers showing us how to fly or Steve Job’s showing us how to imagine.

What Do You Wish Jacksonville Could Unknow?

While this mindset is fading, I’d like to see our community fully release the feelings of inferiority, which keep us labeled as being a “backwater” city. This restrains our ability to passionately unite around a common vision of progress, excitement and optimism.

The Dynamic Future of Neuroscience

Dr. Spring Behrouz received her PhD in Neuroscience from Michigan State University with an emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. She continued research on biochemical pathways involved in these neurodegenerative disorders during post-doctoral work at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

She is the founder and President of NeuroInitiative, a company dedicated to harnessing the recent advances in computing technology for the betterment of biological and health sciences. The company’s current project focuses on computer simulation of biological interactions inside a virtual neuron in order to elucidate treatment targets for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?
Throughout my career as a neuroscientist, I have learned and (un)learned very interesting information about the organ that truly makes each of us unique; the brain. There is very little that is more intriguing or empowering than knowing how to influence the way our brains function. I hope to inspire a spark of interest and curiosity about the brain, its neurons and neuroplasticity in the audience with this TEDx talk.
What is your favorite TED Talk?

Stuart Firestein talked in 2013 about "The Pursuit of Ignorance" and the importance of what we don't know. Science is going past the light of known facts and exploring the complete darkness of the unknown.

What does (un)knowing mean to you?
Unknowing is not the lack of knowledge, but the conscious decision to consider alternatives to what you believe to be true. Some of the best discoveries have been made because of individuals who decided that the current explanations, no matter how well accepted, did not make sense and looked for alternative hypotheses.

What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?
Most people believe that our mental capabilities are unchangeable in adulthood. I would like the world to (un)know this notion by understanding that the brain's complex neural networks which determine our thoughts, actions and identity are shaped through a process known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain cell's ability to change and adapt both functionally and structurally as a result of experience. Considering this notion will empower us to push the boundaries of our capabilities by modifying our neural experiences. This can be useful in a variety of circumstances, including improving memory, recovering from injury and even mastering new skills.

Beyond Face Value

Sara Gaver is a Junior at the University of North Florida. Although she has a physical disability called Arthrogryposis that leaves her wheelchair bound, she lives independently on UNF’s campus taking full-time classes and working at the Disability Resource Center. She will graduate in the Spring of 2016 with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Community Leadership. On campus, Gaver is involved in many things: she is an Honors student, a member of three honor societies, part of the Rotaract Service club, and the Vice President of Internal for the Presidential Envoys Student Alumni Association. In her free time, she loves to paint and read. Her family lives in Osteen, a very small city near Daytona Beach. Her father is a law enforcement officer and her mother is the activities director at a local high school. She also has a younger brother who is very involved in school. Gaver credits her family as, “my biggest support team, always encouraging me to be the best.”

1. Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

I was encouraged by my friends to tell my story. To show people what I have done, where I will go, and that people with physical disabilities aren’t a different kind they are truly the same. I want people to see that a disability isn’t always a bad thing but rather a challenge that throws obstacles in our way. These obstacles however don’t keep us from doing everything we possibly can.

2. What is your favorite TED Talk?

My favorite talk is “I’ve got 99 problems...palsy is just one”

3. What does (un)knowing mean to you?

Unknowing to me means that what we think we know may not be all of it. Is the definition in the dictionary spot on or is it too broad? Everyone has the right to form their own opinions but sometimes those specific thoughts don’t always fit into the “knowing” as well as they should. (Un)knowing means  there’s a chance for growth and understanding because our “knowing” is never complete.

4. What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?

I wish society in general could (un)know what it’s like living day to day with a physical disability. Society makes assumptions about all of us but what they don’t realize is that we are no different than they are and we can do anything we put our mind to.

Gender Bound

Judi Herring’s journey into the complexity of gender began in the early 1990s in a Baltimore hospital room where a child waited for an answer. As a urologic surgeon in training, Judi would help the child conform to a cultural mandate and give the child’s parents a response to the time-honored question: boy or girl? The experience illuminated a broader truth that Judi carried forward while publicly navigating a more accessible unknowing pathway. Working with Bert Herring, Judi invited others to unknow healthy eating and literally conduct self-study to discover new insights. Worldwide enthusiasm for challenging healthy eating dogma fuels Judi’s confidence that the world is ready to explore gender in the context of unknowing.

Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

I’ve held tightly to an idea worth spreading for over twenty years. Perhaps more accurately, the idea has held tightly to me, but only now has time and circumstance aligned to compel me to work to spread it. TEDxJacksonville 2014’s theme, (un)knowing provided the perfect framework for the idea’s public debut. I’m honored and delighted that the TEDxJacksonville team agreed that it’s time to spread this idea.  

What is your favorite TED Talk?

My TED Talk favorites change often. Today’s favorite is Ze Frank’s TED 2014 talk entitled, Are you human? It’s a favorite because in 4 minutes and 34 seconds, the speaker moves the audience through a smorgasbord of human emotions and offers them ponderables that will undoubtedly linger and fuel conversations for hours after he leaves the stage. Creative and fun, the talk made me smile.

What does (un)knowing mean to you?

(Un)knowing is a mindset, fronted by a clear and open receiver and active exploration of new information, perspectives and ideas as an intentional way to expand understanding.

What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?

I wish the world could (un)know its enemies and actively engage in the process of discovering its shared human connections. I’m reminded of the Christmas truce and other unofficial “live and let live” actions during World War I. If there’s any truth to the accounts of such truces, I trust that most adversaries could be guided through an (un)knowing process of discovery and emerge on the other side with shared and mutual human connections. Building a community culture of respect and emulation of the (un)knowing mindset is a wish worth transforming into a strategy, a plan and ultimately reality. It’s my second wish that TEDxJacksonville will jumpstart that possibility.

How to Survive an Execution

Since 2010, playwright Herb Donaldson has written a series of works dealing directly with the history of Wakulla County, his hometown. He is a freelance writer for the Wakulla News, and host of the Wakulla Sunday Radio Program, and founder of the Palaver Tree Theater Company. His first book, ‘Southern SHOCK Americana: The Life and Execution of John Mills, Jr.,’ is the true life account of his uncle’s life on Florida’s Death Row. Yuhanna Abdullah Muhommad (a.k.a. John Mills, Jr.), was executed by the State of Florida on December 6, 1996 for a murder that many believe he was not guilty of. He has also authored three plays, all of which have been featured at numerous festivals, and was a writer for the short film, “Love Aquarium.”

Donaldson also serves as president for the Healing Arts of Wakulla County. He is project manager for their latest endeavor, Wakulla’s Working Waterfronts Photo Project, which received a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grant to graphically document the lifestyles of the county’s maritime community.

1.Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

I’ve been a fan of the TED Talks for a while. After writing the book, I began to look for talks that had a similar theme or subject. A friend, Agnes Furey, sent me a link to Bryan Stevenson’s 'We need to talk about an injustice.' On March 16, of this year, I posted Mr. Stevenson’s talk on our Southern Shock Americana Facebook site, stating: “I have been looking for inspiration and next steps regarding the book Southern Shock Americana. And now, I have found it.”  A few months later, someone read my book, saw the post, and suggested I apply for TEDxJacksonville. So, I did.

2.What is your favorite TED Talk?

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice
3.What does (un)knowing mean to you?

Correcting, or undoing, the (mis)education about the world we live in; re-shifting our thoughts about our place within that world; and renewing our collective spirit in an effort to change it.

4.What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?

That although we live in a society that nurtures violence from our living rooms, to our streets, and to our houses of worship, we do not have to be controlled by that violence, or give into it so readily that it becomes our first resort when seeking justice. If we could attempt to 'un-know' our thinking of how to respond to violence (and un-know our thinking about those who commit it), we might begin the true journey of knowing ourselves better. Maybe then we can honor our humanity in a worthier fashion.

Swimmin' with Existential Gators . . .

The Afghan artist and TED Fellow (TED Global 2012) Aman Mojadidi’s practice is based on his personal experiences and his curatorial and academic research in cultural studies. Having grown up as an American citizen, in a world that is simultaneously globalized and fractured, in his work Mojadidi combines traditional storylines and postmodern narrative strategies to approach themes such as belonging, identity politics, conflict, the push to and resistance against modernization. Continuously exploring what he calls the “geography of self,” Mojadidi travels through both mental and physical landscapes, intentionally blurring and merging the lines between them, as well as between fact and fiction, documentation and imagination.

He has exhibited his work in galleries, independent spaces, and cultural centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cairo, Mumbai, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dubai, Kassel (dOCUMENTA 13), Dharamshala, Ft. Kochi (Kochi/Muziris Biennale), and Kabul.

Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

I was born, and grew up, in Jacksonville and the opportunity to come and speak about the reasons i left and the reasons i may be coming back more often was too incredible to pass up.

What is your favorite TED Talk?

Very, very difficult, but i'll go with Sebastiao Salgado - The silent drama of photography

What does (un)knowing mean to you?

It means dissecting our own personal knowledge about history and the world and placing it under a microscope to try and identify the hegemonic meta-narratives that we've been taught never to question, and then question the hell out of them!

What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?

To "un-know" the various ways in which we are, or can be, judgmental about people and places.

Black Murder is Normal

Servant to the poor. Butler to the great. Counselor. Philosopher. Life-long mate. Michael T. Smith is a High School dropout (and later GED recipient) that has devoted his life to advancing the cause of Justice in his generation and beyond. He has received multiple awards and citations for his work in addressing systemic racism, generational poverty, and violence.

Michael is senior pastor at The Church of Jacksonville. Michael and his wife, Connie, have two children; Michael has been voted “#1 Dad” for 10 consecutive years by the “Bug” and the “Deuce,” an honor he holds most dear.

1.Why did you apply to give a Talk at TEDxJacksonville?

Ideas worth sharing are most fertile when they are seeded into the minds of people of passion and influence. I can think of no more concentrated assembly of passionate, influential thinkers in our city than TEDxJax.

2.What is your favorite TED Talk?

How To Start A Movement

3.What does (un)knowing mean to you?

It means that the answers to our world’s toughest questions are not always found in the places we are supposed to look for them, the places we are taught to focus. It means that we may have to take up some tracks of thinking that are long-travelled to lay some new track leading to solutions rather than cycles.

4.What do you wish the world (or the city of Jacksonville) could (un)know?

That the lingering effects of systemic racism are solvable, fixable in our time. In this generation.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2014-oct-tedxjacksonville-introducing-the-speakers

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