Most of us may be familiar with TED Talks through YouTube or some other online resource. Some people have shockingly never heard of the phenomenon. Once you know about TED Talks, I can pretty much guarantee your life changes… and that’s the point. Our area has been lucky to host TEDxAshburn for the past few years, with this year’s event held in April at Telos. TEDxAshburn was a day to celebrate igniting the spark of change, one that led to conversations and discussions that all communities need to engage in.
From Ben Franklin shakin’ his groove thang to a full roster of speakers who are driving innovation in all aspects of life, TEDxAshburn brought tons of new perspective into our Loudoun bubble.
Many events in our area tend to have a focus on business, networking, wellness or shopping… and, of course, wine or food sneaks in. Those events are always phenomenal, so that’s what I was expecting to occur at TEDxAshburn. Only, instead of being in the midst of a typical LoCo experience I ended up completely immersed in what was happening, on and off the stage.
As an online marketing professional, I preach social networking, selfies, group photos, streaming, etc., to clients when attending events. This became a “do as I say, not as I do” event; I was more distracted by what people were discussing, debating and declaring than I had prepared for. For me, there were no selfies, no group shots, just information sharing. To further drive home that point, it hit me that had I been searching TED Talks through YouTube, I probably would have skipped over the speakers that I listened to at TEDxAshburn. None were necessarily part of my personal or professional information needs… yet, as I listened, things still clicked in both areas of my world.
“We spend a lot of time avoiding looking bad to avoid receiving pain from others.”
“Do something, move forward, give God something to bless.”
“How will we use our brains in the future?”
“I miss jazz clubs.” – that was me, listening to Deep Water.
The stimulation of the mind, of thought, only leads to greater insight within ourselves, and within our communities.
Would I have ever thought to search for the future of thinking on YouTube? Probably not. But the speaker who tried to explain concepts about the future of thinking… his words were brought up by others just an hour or so later, in a completely different dialogue.
I witnessed a heated discussion about activism by two humans of different generations and genders that blatantly pointed to why these events need to happen, even in our diverse and inclusive community. In our hurried, busy lives, we keep the debates to Facebook, where a screen frees us from politeness and dignity in many cases. In real life, real issues not only get discussed realistically but with respect. I live social media, and the tangible contrast of a real life versus online debate was not lost on me. That whole scene ignited through TEDxAshburn and continues to stir up conversations and observations surrounding race, gender, and age, even today.
Okay, so maybe I nerded out a bit. Living in Loudoun for over a decade, rarely have I been witness to honest, intelligent discussion that could ignite change. While networking absolutely happened, TEDxAshburn was different. It was a chance to discover new perspectives, even if they were completely unrelated to what I thought I needed to know. There was no shopping, no elevator speeches, no alcohol (gasp!) – just the convergence of intellect and the promise that change is the only certainty in life, and that we, as humans, have yet to back down from the changes before us… we face them with pride, dignity and maybe a little reminder from boogyin’ Ben Franklin to not take it all so seriously.
Chelsea D. Snyder
Super Nerd, Yogi,
Randomness Enthusiast, &
Owner, MojoWriting, LLC