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TEDxCharleston Conference Ignites Aspirations Throughout the City
4/16/2014 3:00:22 PM

TEDxCharleston speakers (photo by Fia Forever Photography)
By Damion Smalls

The much anticipated TEDxCharleston event held on April 8 at Memminger Auditorium stands to hold a lasting impact on the hundreds in attendance. If so, its theme, “Ripple Effect”, will have done its job perfectly.

The affair, which sold out less than a week after tickets went on sale, was a platform for ideas to be presented by a diverse group of speakers with successful backgrounds ranging from professional athletes to award-winning photographers.

2013 TEDxCharleston speaker Teresa Bruce served as emcee. The event was split into three sessions with a performance in each. A reception was held at the conclusion over at the Old City Jail on Magazine St. Several videos were sprinkled throughout from standout presentations at previous TED conferences. Every speaker had significant agendas to verbalize.

Heather Collins, a cognitive neuroscientist, expressed to the crowd how important learning was to students of all levels, especially in college. Ben Navarro from Meeting St. Academy pushed for education reform with an emphasis on helping underserved students.

Expert in conflict resolution Jill Siegal Chalsty promoted the use of the Life Skills Program for students to build character and discourage bullying, which she went through in her childhood. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Roskill showed the crowd how libraries are still vital, relevant, and need support.

“Citizen Artist” Kate Nevin encouraged everyone to become catalysts in their communities through creativity. Law professor Jorge Roig spoke about how our DNA “talks” and “is a language” for us to communicate with each other on an even more personal level than previously thought possible.

Improv comic Greg Tavares dispelled the myth that stage performers are unafraid of the spotlight cast on them but highlighted his belief that “Fun Kills Fear”, which helps him enjoy his career. National Geographic photographer Vince Musi displayed many gorgeous captured moments of animals and nature that delighted onlookers.

Charleston Battery star John Wilson narrated his compelling journey from humble beginnings as an inexperienced soccer player to one of the sport’s best. Gullah Geechee Program Series host Ron Daise shared his background as a native of the Sea Islands and the influence it has had on his life’s pursuits in a lively presentation.

Dr. Ed O’Bryran bestowed his expertise on the hardships of people who cannot afford adequate healthcare globally and its devastating effects. Louis Yuhasz, founder of Louis’s Kids, declared himself as a crusader of childhood obesity and has devoted his life to help put an end to the epidemic.

Academic Magnet senior Hunter Legerton surprised the audience with a radical yet seemingly efficient option to reduce heat in cities by growing gardens on roofs. Social entrepreneur Derreck Kayongo proved that the best was saved for last as his charismatic presentation ended the conference with a bang. Kayongo and his Global Soap Project were featured in the March 19 edition of The Chronicle.

Performances at TEDxCharleston included singers, dancers, and musicians. Laura Ball soothed the crowd with her melodic vocals and mellow tunes. The Annex Dance Company combined classical dance with contemporary rhythms with the assistance of local children. The official artist of the event, Lisa Abernathy, designed spectacular visuals that stylized the auditorium favorably. The Taiko Charleston performers electrified spectators with their boisterous energy and infectious drum beats. Graham Whorley used his guitar and voice to put on a one-man show that had the crowd hanging on every loop.

The talents showcased at TEDxCharleston varied but were captivating in their own right. “Ripple Effect” made apparent the willingness of Charlestonians to at least listen to what change sounds like. It will up to us to make sure the message does not fall upon deaf ears.

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