People's Library TEDxRVA Report! By People's Librarian Madeleine Jordan-Lord
June 6, 2014
Richmond, VA March 28, 2014
Our city’s TEDx event on the 28th was a gathering of eclectic former and present members of the Richmond community-- all people who are willing to challenge the confines of ‘community’ as we see it now through each expanding and specifying this definition in their TED talks and focusing on areas where they feel our city is lacking. TEDxRVA showcased active community participants and communicators, allowing immediate needs for Richmond, like the elimination of ‘food deserts’ as described by Duron Chavis, to be brought forward and addressed. Along with discussing concrete issues, TEDxRVA also provided a platform for personal experiences and idealistic goals to be shared--as shown with Dr. Danny Avula’s talk about the concept of “embracing dependence” and “common space” through living in the inner city of Richmond for the past 10 years. Each talk was content-rich and could easily stand alone, but I was able to draw far more out of the experience of attending the TEDx event than I could ever have binge-watching TED talks on Youtube. Not only was TEDxRVA impeccably organized logistically, but the TEDx team crafted a social environment that drew its attendees together through conversation and emotional solidarity. The silence in the theatre as Amy Black projected pictures of her work reconstructing the breasts of cancer patients, the laughter that resulted from Dr. Lisa Freiman’s introduction of ‘The Northface Effect’, the words of encouragement when Dr. Danny Avula paused to collect his thoughts during his talk, and the shouting out of ‘re-’ words at the prompting of curator Andy Stefanovich all emphasized the role of the audience as a participator in the TEDx experience. Ultimately,TEDxRVA wasn’t a series of lectures, but a collective dialogue between the Richmond community. Constant involvement and interaction between the audience and the speakers (as well as just between the audience themselves) fostered an environment for creation, innovation, and understanding which elevated the experience of watching TED talks and gave the event true purpose.