Amy, Melissa and I attended the fourth-annual TEDxRainier event, held in the historic and stunning 5th Avenue Theater in downtown Seattle. Focused on a theme of “Rethink,” the day was filled with unique, thought-provoking talks covering topics like the intelligence of crows, using human bodies as a canvas, and technology that can connect two brains.
After the event, we discussed our favorite talks and the presentations that led us to rethink our own perspectives.
What was your favorite part of the event?
Amy: Dani Cone’s presentation—which focused on her Grandma Molly’s mantra, “Be good. Do well”—struck a chord. It was 2008, and Dani had opened three Fuel Coffee shops and was responsible for 21 employees. As the recession hit, she searched for ideas that would keep people coming in the door. She wanted to create comfort in not-so-comfortable times. She thought about how “people come together over pie” and decided to open High 5 Pie. She said realized that “be good” wasn’t necessarily about doing what you’re good at—it was about creating good.
I was a beneficiary of the comforting food and setting that Dani created. When I first moved to Seattle in 2009, I spent many days in Wallingford’s Fuel Coffee doing homework for grad school and freelancing. The baristas were friendly and warm, dispelling notions of the dreaded “Seattle Freeze.” It provided me comfort in not-so-comfortable times, as Dani set out to do. I appreciated Dani’s ability to tell a great story—she captivated the audience with her honest, compelling and succinct talk.
Barbara: I felt really connected to the message of Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author and naturalist. Lyanda spoke of the importance of embracing the wildlife that exists in our cities and throwing away the notion that humans and wildlife should be separated and only encounter each other in the wild. I take every opportunity to get to the mountains and forests to hike, camp, and enjoy nature and wildlife away from the crowded city streets. However, I can also be found admiring the squirrel lounging on the park bench, the crow perched on the roof of my house happily harassing my dogs, or the random raccoon seen ambling slowly back to his home after a night of raiding the neighbor’s vegetable garden. Urban wildlife might sometimes be seen as a burden, but I truly enjoy sharing the city with them.
Melissa: My favorite part of the event was also my favorite presentation. I loved hearing from Art Wolfe about his inspirations and the evolution of his work as an artist. His newest project, Human Canvas, is breathtaking. Learning about the progression of his work with tribal communities, landscapes and animals, and how this helped mold Human Canvas, helped me appreciate his work even more.
Which presentation forced you to see something from a new perspective?
Amy: Wildlife scientist John Marzluff gave an intriguing talk about crows’ brain power and said he was determined to convince us to use “birdbrain” as a compliment. Several crows seem to call my deck home. Much to my dismay, they bring their dinner up there and gorge themselves. After learning about their intuitive abilities and calculated risk-taking, I see my crow neighbors in a new light. They are smart and determined—and it’s probably time to befriend them.
Barbara: I enjoyed hearing from Teri Hein, executive director of 826 Seattle and former teacher with The Hutch School. Teri spoke about refusing to “hope for the best” in people, and instead assuming the best in people. By assuming the best in people, and especially children, we give them the opportunity and confidence to be open and curious. This can lead to better understanding of people and cultures that are different from your own, and hopefully, lead to a more accepting community. I love that Teri encourages not only teaching the curriculum but also using her position as a teacher to reach out to children, help them stay open-minded, and mold them into better human beings.
Melissa: Ramez Naam‘s presentation showcasing the reality of technology that is considered “sci-fi” was great. The innovations he shared were mind blowing, especially the glasses that can potentially help the blind restore partial sight. Since I don’t normally focus on this community I hadn’t realized this seemingly futuristic research is currently happening.
What did you enjoy most about attending TEDxRainier?
Amy: Events like TEDxRainier help me learn about new organizations and projects. From Peter Speyer of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, I learned more about its Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report and online visualization tools, as well as the Roux Prize, a new $100,000 award for using GBD data to take action that makes people healthier. From physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, I learned about her work to use documentaries to inspire compassion around mental illness and the film she made about her relationship with her father and his battle with schizophrenia.
Barbara: I appreciated the variety found in the talks. Although I enjoyed the talks focusing on topics with which I connect, I also valued the opportunity to hear from people outside of my focus areas, expanding my awareness of research and projects happening right in my backyard.
Melissa: I appreciated the effort put into the event, and am grateful for my increased awareness of local entrepreneurs and organizations.