Many of you appear to be big TED fans too. In fact, the most popular article ever on Social Worker Success is about TED . . .
My social worker socks were blown off when I attended my local event TEDx Birmingham 2016 last Saturday. My face looked something like this all day:
- Hold Your Breath
- Make a Wish
- Change the Check
Hold Your Breath (TEDx Birmingham Session 1)
Jonathan Owen (video start time: 13:40)
Jonathan Owen is a youth minister and also serves as the director at Camp Straight Street, a nine-week summer day camp for over 800 kids. He shares funny stories from being a summer camp organizer of “good kids”, “bad kids” and “weird kids”. He explains how reframing our view of all kids is critical to making an impact in their lives.
Best quote: “Jorts are cool, all the camp counselors are wearing them.”
Takeaway: Bad kids aren’t really bad kids and weird kids aren’t weird. They may be hurting. Every kid has a story. It’s our job to figure out their story so that we can respond with what they need.
Tammy Harper (video start time: 21:45)
Tammy Harper is a mother of two and author of Living Restfully: A Skeptic’s Guide to Raising Children Screen-Free. If you have children you are undoubtedly fighting the screen-time battle Harper shares in this talk. I have a four year old daughter . . . this talk spoke to me in a big way.
Best quote: “Where are your eyes?”
Takeaway: Be mindful of the amount of time you spend staring at screens, and focus your eyes on the things in your life that are really valuable to you.
Olivia Affuso (video start time: 33:20)
Olivia Affuso is an epidemiologist Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Public Health. Her talk focuses on the development of a novel method to measure body composition.
Best quote: “BMI Sucks!”
Takeaway: Affuso warns about using BMI to measure body fat. At her height of 5’4” tall, she would have to go from 100lbs (BMI 17.5) down to 85lbs (BMI 14.9) to get the life-saving care needed if she were a person suffering from anorexia.
Steven Austad (video start time: 48:40)
Biologist Steven Austad and author of Why We Age: What Science Is Discovering about the Body’s Journey Through Life. Although medicine has been wildly successful at finding ways to delay death, it has not found a way to delay aging. What if we could all age successfully?
Best quote: “Medicine has found a way to delay our dying, but not delay our aging.”
Takeaway: An extra ten to twenty years of healthy living is within our grasp. We need to reimagine the normal trajectory of life to have many more productive seasons of life as we age.
Donna Dukes (video start time: 1:06:50)
Educator Donna Dukes points out that life is only precious to people who believe success is possible. Critically at risk youth don’t feel like life is precious because, in order to believe success is possible, you have to have dreams. Her challenge: We have to make hope and the ability to dream exist in their world.
Best quote: “Hope and the ability to dream are dead in the minds of ‘critically at-risk youth’.”
Takeaway: We have to help children develop empathy and a reason to think positively about their futures. Doing so can be the difference in a child who grows up to be a murderer or a productive member of society.
Amy Bickers (video start time: 1:24:35)
Amy Bickers, a former journalist, Southern Living editor, and author of The Geography of You and Me, speaks about inspiration from her memoir and recovery from suicide loss.
Best quote: “We cannot wait for the universe to bring us some awesome event to make up for tragedies.”
Takeaway: We don’t need the Hollywood ending. We only need to regain our equilibrium, as often as necessary. When we stop asking, “what next”, we can find our way toward accepting what is.
Make A Wish (TEDx Birmingham Session 2)
Terry Strickland (video start time: 15:45)
Artist Terry Strickland is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a BFA in Graphic Design. She uses figurative paintings and still images to attempt to explain the ups and downs of life. Strickland shares a personal story about transitioning into the life of an “empty nest”.
Best quote: “Images can trigger memories, stir emotions, make us consider life transitions or intangible things like love, beauty, struggle, loss, or death.”
Takeaway: Life transitions are universal and art can be a bridge for us to make those transitions.
Ahmad Ward (video start time: 25:15)
Ahmad Ward is the Head of Education and Exhibitions at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute where his responsibilities include public programming, teacher workshops, and training sessions. Ward shares a personal story of teaching his daughters about unfortunate realities they will face in their lives.
Best quote: “Race is the most successful social construct in the history of the world.”
Takeaway: “For people of color, discussions about how to handle overt and covert racism are just like when your parents taught you table manners or how to ride a bike. It is an inescapable and a necessary part of our training.”
Lonnie Hannon (video start time: 44:34)
Lonnie Hannon is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Tuskegee University. He shares his insights and suggestions for how to reach students socially and academically. Hannon walks his talk by serving as a mentor to students and neighborhood youths.
Best quote: “Focus on where students are going, not where they come from.”
Takeaway: Mentor students and create pathways to better lives of children who may otherwise be overlooked.
Deb Warnat (video start time: 1:01:34)
Deb Warnat is artist and calligraphy teacher. She shares personal stories of her writing skills and how writing and calligraphy helped her heal from difficult challenges in life.
Best quote: “The sheer ability of using your hands, eyes and brain in such a highly coordinated and complicated way is a diversion at the least and a sacred meeting at its highest.”
Takeaway: Writing changes you, with its intricate processes, without you knowing it.
Garrison Linn (video start time: 1:16:13)
Garrison Linn is a graduate student and Research Assistant who will be pursuing a PhD in the Department of Physics in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences. He shares some insights about goal attainment from his soccer playing youth and experiments with robots.
Best quote: “Sometimes to get where you want to go, you first have to forget about where you are heading and just explore.”
Takeaway: Being solely focused on goal attainment is not always the best approach.
Randi Pink (video start time: 1:24:40)
Randi Pink is a writer and author of the young adult novel Into White (Fall 2016). She shares personal stories of growing up in predominantly white culture and the personal challenges with later attending a historically black university.
Best quote: “That girl is . . .” 😎
Takeaway: Don’t ignore the uncomfortable feelings you have when considering a community of people you may fear.
Change The World (TEDx Birmingham Session 3)
Jim McClintock (video start time: 12:03)
Jim McClintock is a polar marine biologist with over 250 scientific papers published on the topic of marine life in Antartica. He even has a piece of land in Antartica named after him.
Best quote: “Antartica serves as a barometer for our planet, and tells us where we will be going.”
Takeaway: The sample size for planets we live on is one. We have no margin for error in the way we “experiment” with Earth.
Rubin Pillay (video start time: 22:03)
Rubin Pillay is Professor of Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UAB’s Collat School of Business and Assistant Dean for Global Health Innovation at the School of Medicine. His current work focuses on the role of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the transformation of health and healthcare. He tells a personal story of how technology and our health diagnostics intersect.
Best quote: “The smartphone is the doctor’s bag of the 21st century . . . physicians optional.”
Takeaway: In the future, armed with smartphones, we will be the CEO of our own health.
Rene Keene (video start time: 43:52)
Rene Keene is an artist whose medium of choice is reclaimed wood. She shares stories about how, as a single parent, she was compelled to become more creative out of necessity.
Best quote: “If you relax your mind and see what something could be, not necessarily what it is meant to be, but what it could be, you start to notice that there is art all around”.
Takeaway: Reframing our mindset and how we view the world, opens opportunities for us and others.
Al Elliot (video start time: 1:08:58)
Al Elliot is a literacy teacher and musical contributor to the Emmy Award Winning Documentary, Mr. Dial has Something To Say. He shares stories about his students and how they can express themselves effectively.
Best quote: “Do you like me . . . yes or no?”
Takeaway: Be brave enough to let someone know a good idea when you hear one.
Lindy Cleveland (video start time: 1:16:09)
Lindy Cleveland is the Executive Director of UnlessU, a school for adults with developmental disabilities. She shares that her inspiration for starting the school is her older brother Jordan.
Best quote: “These adults are worth it. They deserve just as much as everybody else. They deserve to have a college-like experience. They deserve to have really good friends and to simply have fun.”
Takeaway: If we don’t do something to help others, who will?
The speakers give you so much food for thought.
But the speakers were only part of the experience. Artistic performances and TED-inspired videos complimented the main speakers’ talks.
The wide range of attendees were another part of the overall TEDx experience. The oldest attendee was 86. The youngest was 18. Many attendees were educators. There was even one self-professed “social work ninja” in attendance. 😎
Watching the replay is the next best thing to being there.
I hope you get as much inspiration as I did from watching TEDx Birmingham 2016.