5 bright ideas to take away from TEDxCharlotte


I’d never had a chance to attend TEDxCharlotte before so it was high time to see what the fuss was about on Friday at LABEL. I also had to clear a few details up for myself:

Such as, who is Ted?

Against my assumption, “TED” is not symbolic of any event founder. “TED” stands for the convergence of technology, entertainment and design, the three focal points for the original TED conference in 1984. Today, TED is a nonprofit with a mission to spread ideas, typically through short, impressionable talks that last 18 minutes or less. TED Talks encompass topics from science, to business, to global concerns, and are presented in more than 100 languages.

So then, what’s with the “x” part of TEDx? The x indicates that a particular TED Talk is an independently organized event. The organizer of this year’s TEDxCharlotte event, spotlighting nearly 20 speakers, was Winn Maddrey.

Though the event was sold out, I snuck in on a media pass and caught the all-day action for an hour. I also came away from the event with five bright ideas.

(1) Shake up your everyday patterns.

TEDx speaker Allison Billings pointed out that, in Charlotte, we’re so often guilty of treating our cars like steel bubbles.

“We’re missing out on opportunities to engage with one another,” she said.

But we can forget that cars aren’t accessible to everyone due to low-income, disability and age. Therefore, certain opportunities aren’t accessible to everyone — like healthier food, more distant educational opportunities and jobs. She said we can make a change: Incorporate non-automobile transit into your life when you can. Ride the light rail to dinner, bike to work, walk to the store — shake up everyday patterns and break down those barriers.

@afbillings on stage talking transportation. Blog recap at link in our bio #TEDxCLT.

A post shared by TEDxCharlotte (@tedxcharlottenc) on

(2)  Be a source of good energy.

TEDx organizers provided a spread of Pure Intentions Coffee. One must be jacked up on caffeine in order to get jacked up on ideas.

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(3) “What changes lives is relationships.”

TEDx speaker John Austin shared that, in a report released by Harvard University economics professors, Charlotte ranked as the second most difficult city for people to earn their way out of poverty.

The problem, he said, is: “Often times we take the easy way out. You see it’s often easier to give away a used coat or a can of Beanies & Weenies than it is to build a relationship.”

So build a relationship: Austin is part of a collaboration of churches (that has no website, no name and no budget) that conducts 12-week job training programs. Commit to being a one-on-one mentor for men and women on the path to employment. Commit to having a relationship with anyone in need.

“The mentors share life with the students,” he said.

Email Austin at jaustinclt@gmail.com to get involved.

(4) If you’re sharing ideas with people, make them comfortable.

Red Ventures supplied handy dandy seat cushions for the audience this year — it was announced that last year’s complaints of butt soreness were heard.


(5) It’s your job to make your mark.

TEDxCharlotte organizers had the bright idea to brand all attendees — with temporary tattoos. I haven’t put mine on yet.

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