This year's 3rd annual TEDxUSC event was a wonderful mix of stimulating presentations, fun performances, interactive games and discussions of serious global issues. I was somewhat surprised to see a comic book theme pervade the event -- even at first glance, the official program looked like a real comic book! "Actions Speak Louder" was the main message yesterday in USC's packed Bovard Auditorium. Luckily, I was able to get my favorite seat in the house and immerse myself in the experience.
The cover of the TEDxUSC 2011 program:
Comic book-style posters exhibiting the speakers outside of Bovard Auditorium -- I love the abundance of the beautiful old trees here:
I'm no graphic novel expert but people really seemed to appreciate the theme:
My name badge with "the one innovation I can't live without - fresh water":
The audience getting settled in for the event:
Our resident queen of innovation and curator of TEDxUSC herself, Krisztina "Z" Holly greets us:
For the first time TEDxUSC had a co-host, Derrick N. Ashong. Not only is he an alum of Harvard and the Oprah Winfrey Show, he also pulled off a very difficult audience singing exercise that seemed pretty impossible!
Jose Antonio Rosa's presentation on "the next four billion" was really on par with my beliefs about the world's poor -- they are ultimately an asset and not a liability. Despite the solemn topic, he managed to convey a real sense of humor as well:
A startling factoid from Rick Nahmias' talk (he founded Food Forward, a non-profit that gleans excess fruit and vegetables from our backyards/farms and transfers it to the hungry):
2009 TED Prize winner Dr. Jill C. Tarter gave a high-brow presentation on her area of expertise -- extraterrestrial research. She is the director of the SETI Institute:
Andrew McGregor's of The Tiziano Project, a citizen journalism organization. After my trip to Tanzania and East Africa earlier this year, I can affirm that this non profit is doing some great work on the continent of Africa:
USC Cinema students had the opportunity to show their short films throughout the evening. Below are Anna Elizabeth James and Michael Koerbel, who made quite an elaborate film using simply their iPhone 4. They even used an app for the film's distribution! Talk about a studio in your pocket...
After the tea/coffee/fruit/cookie break, we returned to our seats with DJ Sleeper spinning on the deck with his spliced and diced short film playing high above him. It was actually quite creative and impressive!
TED's own director of licensing, Lara Stein, was back to share just how much TEDx has grown. TEDxUSC was the very first TEDx event, and since then TEDx events around the globe have grown exponentially:
One of my favorite talks was poli-sci professor Ange-Marie Hancock. She elegantly discussed what she calls "the tyranny of tolerance" and its role in what is a truly inclusive and egalitarian democracy.
The session ended with a dazzling performance by Troupe Vertigo, who performed some crazy feats of athleticism and artistry in their circus theater show!
I never thought I'd watch a Cirque du Soleil-esque show at Bovard, that's for sure! It was incredible, simply breathtaking:
Afterwards we all went to USC's lovely and historic Town & Gown for the "Interactive Game and Demo Lounge." The audience imbibed in drinks, hors d'oevres and a hearty dinner to complement the many gaming demos and photobooth scattered throughout the venue.
Other speakers throughout the day included programmer/biologist Andrew Hessel, journalist Josh Kun, neuroscientist Alan Horsager, ProFounder's Dana Mauriello, Code for America's Jennifer Pahlka, professor/futurist Aram Sinnreich, Shoah Foundation's Stephen D. Smith and education expert Elisabeth Stock.
I've been so fortunate to have been invited to attend all TEDxUSCs so far, and after experiencing three of these now I can attest to the event's intense growth in quality and popularity. Apparently this year's conference had more than 3,200 applicants and 450 people on the waitlist! Luckily, much of what goes on in both TED and TEDx is eventually shared on their website for the public to check out at their convenience.
Like every year, TEDxUSC provides an interactive and convivial platform for meeting likeminded people who want to share their experiences and practices in order to tackle and improve outstanding global issues. We all left truly inspired and eager to continue the myriad conversations from last night!
A big congratulations to Krisztina "Z" Holly and the production team as well as USC Stevens Institute for Innovation!