Tedx Piscataqua River--Be Unreasonable

Last Friday I had the privilege to attend Tedx Piscataqua River, a fun event with a lot of ideas and many interesting presenters. It was hosted at the new 3S Artspace in downtown Portsmouth, a great space, newly renovated, and perfect for the event. 

The Morning Half of the Day


The day started with the most amazing cinnamon buns. Wherever they came from, I highly recommend you acquire some as quickly as humanly possible. Tiny nuggets of cinnamon-covered joy.

First up on the docket for the day was a performer called Colors in Motion, an interesting collage of moving colors on a projector with music played on a synth. It was quite relaxing. Throughout the day there were two other performances--NEOTERIC Dance Collaborative with 7 Stages Shakespeare Co (Animating Shakespeare), and Ellyn Touchette, a poet performing Phenotypes of a Real Woman. Animating Shakespeare was beautiful, but I have to say, for some reason I really liked the way they combined the music with the voice over reading. Very appealing. And the Phenotypes of a Real Woman was surprising, engaging, and profound.

I do not remember what kind of fish it was, but all fish are pretty weird, right?

I do not remember what kind of fish it was, but all fish are pretty weird, right?

Up next, a weird fish. Sam Hayward did a fascinating piece on how the way food tastes is specific to where it grows. One noticeable example was when he noticed the difference in taste of herbs between Maine and California--his reasoning was that the plants grew stronger and more potently in New England because there were so many bugs they had to fight off (no bugs where he visited in CA). He also brought show and tell ocean life: hence my comment about weird fish. (It was a really weird fish, with a huge mouth.)

Now, I'm jumping a little out of order here, but Von Diaz did another presentation on food later on in the day. Hers was vaguely similar to Sam's, but she focused on her experiences growing up half in Puerto Rico and half in Georgia, and how although she felt out of place in both locations, food gave her a sense of grounding in both. She made the claim that what you like to eat is inextricably tied to your own history and how you grew up.

Sara Curry gave a fascinating presentation on yoga and how it can help the healing process. She pointed out that nowadays people are tied to their desks and not move for days at a time, practically; but our bodies were made for movement. As a result, we almost injure ourselves by not moving. Hot yoga, in her experience, has helped dozens of people heal from insane illnesses--a debilitating back injury for herself, fibromyalgia, etc. It made even me consider trying yoga. We shall see, we shall see... (but I probably won't blog about it).

The event boasted 3 videos from other Ted events, one of which I have included here: star shades and telescopes (obvs on my list of favs). The other two were Photos That Give Voice to the Animal Kingdom, and Teach Teachers How To Create Magic (learn to teach by going to black church, also my favourite kind of church!).

The Middle Half of the Day

Be nice to bees!

Be nice to bees!

One of my favourite presentations was by Dr. Sandra Rehan, called The Secret Lives of Native Bees. The reason I found her presentation so fascinating is because the majority of what I know is about honey bees (given that my dad is a beekeeper) and she called out some of the fascinating and wonderful things about other kinds of bees. I could probably write an entire post just on her presentation, but I will suffice it with just a few fun facts: 

  • There are 20,000 species of bees in the world.
  • There are 4,000 species of bees in the US.
  • There are 200 species of bees that live locally.
  • There are large and small carpenter bees.
  • Small carpenter bees live inside the stems of blackberries and rose bushes. Yup. That's how tiny they are.

Those are just a few fun facts, but her presentation was awesome, and her diagrams, equally awesome.

Next was Martha Stone, the director of a local homeless shelter. This presentation pointed out how most homeless people don't look like the stereotypical homeless person. She gave stories of different people with different needs - one guy just needed a place to stay until he could save up enough money to put down a deposit and pay his first month's rent. A family with three kids came in with medical needs because both parents had lost employment; an older veteran with only a car to his name came needing medical care, but was unable to work (they found him a place at a nearby VA). Real people, real needs.

Meredith Bennett was the producer for the Colbert Report (moving with Colbert to the Late Night Show). She spoke on how the reason she got as far as she did, and the reason the Colbert Report got as far as it did was because they always said yes--to taking this job, to filming in Iran, to presenting at Piscataqua River presumably. 

Latter Half of the Day

19-year-old entrepreneur and inventor TJ Evarts (only a few more years and everyone will stop waxing eloquent about his age!) talked about kidpreneurs and how youths are coming forward with ideas, and how they need more space in the classroom to be able to pursue the education of entrepreneurship. He pointed out (quite rightly, if I might add) the best way to learn is by doing, and explained that the best education he got was teaching himself to do things that were necessary to his entrepreneurial goals, and also that trying to be an entrepreneur is an education in and of itself. 

Matthew Loper spoke about Youth Harnessing Religion for Peace. He worked at a camp for children of all religions to be exposed to other children of other religions--Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. His stories were moving, and the pictures beautiful, and he spoke of how he hopes one day, adults can approach religion with the open-mindedness and curiosity that the children he worked with had.

How We Fall In and Out of Love With Our Buildings by Reagan Ruedig was an interesting presentation on buildings, and what it means to be "historic" or "ugly". She gave examples of styles she finds attractive but that her mother finds ugly, and urged us to let the next generation decide whether or not to keep buildings that are only one generation old.

Probably the most meaningful to me at this point was How to Get a Book Deal by Aimee Molloy, and not because I have any interest in getting a book deal. It was most meaningful because her main theme was to "be unreasonable." If you have a goal, do everything you can to pursue it, even if it's risky. Aimee Molloy is a successful ghost writer for many well-known books and celebrities (think, John Kerry and Rosewater). She gave examples from her own life about how she did seemingly crazy things (like quitting her job with no other recourse) to pursue her dreams, and through hard work and sheer luck she got it done by being unreasonable. It was very inspiring.

Round Up (not the pesticide though--poor bees)

It was overall a fascinating, educational, and riveting day. In addition to listening to these amazing speakers and performers, I also met some great people, had some good ideas (mainly for the next presentation I have to do), and enjoyed being a freelancer to the fullest ;)