Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Feb 14th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Opening Up

news2TEDx Santa Cruz speakers discuss deeper connections with the world

During the TEDx Santa Cruz conference, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 15, poet and author Albert Flynn DeSilver shared his experience of living with alcoholism, an endless cycle of shame, and a cult whose leaders tied him to a tree in the woods. DeSilver says he experienced a revelation while tied to that tree.

“If I ever get untied from this tree, I am going to open myself to creativity, service, and love,” he remembers thinking.

The theme of this year's TEDx—the second to be held in Santa Cruz—was “open.”

Seventeen guest speakers took to the stage at Cabrillo College's Crocker Theater to share stories about their industries, technological innovations, life callings, and personal experiences. Their topics ranged widely but all connected back to the theme of “open.”

John Perry Barlow, a former Wyoming rancher, Grateful Dead lyricist, and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, talked about what he learned many years ago from a down-and-out hitchhiker on the edge of a small, Midwestern town: the importance of opening yourself to people's love.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Martha Mendoza, who began her career in Santa Cruz, discussed her passion for the Freedom of Information Act and how she has held government and corporations accountable for their actions by using the law to open records.

“The truth always matters, and the truth sets us free,” she said.

While the interpretations of the theme varied and were applied differently by speakers, a common idea emerged: breaking down the walls that we erect to shield ourselves from others, the world, and risk.

The diversity of presenters in this TEDx event was intentional, says organizer David Warren, who is a retired professor of Digital Media at Cabrillo College.

“The world is opening in many dimensions. Through the rapid development of technology, we're approaching the idea of openness from the global, to the local, to the personal; through poetry, art, and the intellectual,” he says. “We're trying to bring as many dimensions into this theme as possible.”

TED is a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for people with “ideas worth spreading,” he says. It started more 20 than years ago in Monterey, Calif. and grew over time. The original TED Talks (TED standing for “Technology, Entertainment, Design”) tend to focus on more global issues. A TEDx conference is different from a TED in that TEDx is independently organized and produced and focuses on local voices.

“This is really about finding interesting people in your community and giving them a stage, and not just locally but globally,” Warren says.

When Warren says globally, he is referring to the requirement by the TED organization that TEDx events record all speakers and post the videos online for the whole world to experience. Another TEDx requirement is that presenters refrain from religious, political, or sales agendas, he adds.

Director of the Museum of Art & History Nina Simon spoke passionately about her work reinventing the museum to more fully engage the community. She described her goal in creating a space where people share their stories, connect more deeply with others through artifacts and artistic activities, and contribute in ways that make the museum a reflection of the people who make Santa Cruz what it is.

Whitney Smith, the CEO of Girls for a Change, told a story about personal growth and opening after a tragedy—a story she said she had never shared. Her mother was murdered by someone close and her family was devastated. Smith compared the experience and the aftershock to what happens when a heavy stone is thrown into still water, causing the surface to ripple open and expand outward.

She spoke about her experience of feeling wounded after her mother's death and how her feelings of connectedness with all the people around her grew stronger.

Years later, it was the words of the midwife who delivered Smith's baby that helped her come to terms with her pain. While she was in labor, the midwife told her to not try to block out the pain, but open herself to it.

Smith's decision to share her story at TEDx, which she says she almost backed out of several times, was entirely in tune with the theme of openness, and the audience let her know that it resonated with them.

Warren explains that the curation committee chose the theme “open” because they believe that in order to address the biggest problems in the world today, people need to become more open to constructive change.

“We're feeling a lot of stress in the world today,” he says. “There's upheaval and uncertainty. We're going through a major period of change. We thought of 'open' as a way to think about how we can better address the challenges in the world today.”   

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Onagh Ash, September 24, 2012
Whitney 's story is amazing and her work in helping thousands of young women change is a wonderful result of her personal story. I am one of her board members with GFC (girls for a change) and was not aware of her pain. Thank you for sharing

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster