The 2014 TEDxPhiladelphia conference was Friday, March 28 at Temple Performing Arts Center. Image Credit: Kevin Monko
‘TEDxPhiladelphia: The New Workshop of the World’ was a day of thoughtful excitement and lively dialogue. Eleven-hundred attendees flooded through the doors of the Temple Performing Arts Center this past Friday, happily participating in the sold out, daylong multidisciplinary conference which celebrated, critiqued and expanded on the personal and collective definitions of community and industry, while examining Philadelphia’s rich history and promising future as a ‘hub for innovation’.
Everyone left inspired– and how could they not? Hundreds were nominated to speak, and 22 diverse and articulate Philadelphians were selected to share their reflections, ideas and unique perspectives in TED talks which ranged from Ben Franklin’s Junto and Philadelphia’s public school system to the collaborative creation in a local university’s lab and development of a skateboard park on the river trail, and beyond.
Attendees were given a ‘zine inspired by the theme of the event, ‘Cutting Cloth’, by local cartoonist Sky Kalfus, and entertained by performances from a Philadelphia-based jazz ensemble and youth percussion group, sprinkled through the daily agenda of four ‘Workshops’. Downstairs, a ‘Maker Faire’ showcased local handmade products and projections of what was happening upstairs, on the big screen.
In the first workshop of the day, Geoff DiMasi (of Indy Hall, Ignite Philly and P’unk Ave fame), in Quaker fashion, asked the audience to quietly contemplate and envision the city they wanted for themselves; Project Runway champ and local artist/fashion designer, Dom Streater, shared how her unique perspective on material value was shaped; Richard Vague touted his support of local business incubators and start ups; Chris Bartlett shared the importance of preserving and sharing cultural communities, referencing the influence of the preservation of Philadelphia’s Chinatown in pursuing development initiatives in Philly’s ‘Gayborhood’; and Geneviève Dion described the fascinating merging of technology and garment production through a collaborative lab at Drexel University.
Katherina Rosqueta started off the second session by urging TEDxPhiladelphia attendees to rethink the definition of high impact philanthropy; Andrew Dahlgren discussed what it meant to be a ‘designer/maker’ and creating a startup factory, positing that “It takes a village to raise an industry”; Jack Lucid shared both the history and future of Disston Precision, Inc, in the Northeast; Brian McTear of Weathervane Music gave insight to the meaning of community in the rapidly changing and evolving music industry; and Natalie Nixon, in an enlightening talk, drew fascinating parallels between jazz music and designing workplace organization models.
Chris Rabb asked the crowd what it meant to be an entrepreneur and discussed social impact; Eloquent, visionary high school junior, Nikki Adeli, spoke about the prospects and future of education from a student perspective; Mathieu Turpault spoke about the changes in industrial and experience design as a reflection of our evolving world; YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School executive director Simran Sidhu gave an impassioned call to action to the audience in reconsidering ‘troubled youth’ as ‘opportunity youth’; Jim MacMillan opened a striking discussion on gun violence in Philadelphia through his and Joseph Kaczmarek’s work as photo/journalists; and award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez took the audience through a journey in spoken word.
The final, closing workshop opened with President and CEO Thomas Jefferson University, Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, discussing the local health care system from 10 years in the future; Helen Gym, a parent and community activist advocated strongly for quality public education; Austin Seraphin, a blind-since-birth developer gave one of the most enlightening talks of the day, spoke about his experiences and accessibility in Philadelphia; Terry Gillian took TEDxPhiladelphia attendees through the 20+ year development journey of the once-defunct Naval Yard–now a thriving urban business park; and Josh Nims, a lifelong skateboarder, discussed his involvement in the creation of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark on the Schuykill Rivertrail and its importance to the community as a shared public space.
The annual live conference may be over, but there will surely be more in store for Philadelphia’s TEDx community. Follow @TEDxPhilly on Twitter and the TEDxPhiladelphia blog for updates, and stay inspired!