Quincy News

Program targets conversation within community

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 9, 2018 11:00 am

QUINCY -- More than anything else, a TEDx event is designed to foster an exchange of ideas.

And that it did Monday, featuring a cast of 12 speakers inside the Mary Ellen Orr Auditorium on the campus of John Wood Community College. One of those who shared his ideas and feelings was Julian Watkins, a former attorney who now serves as the executive director of the American Red Cross in Cape Giradeau, Mo.

"I am a strong believer in the ripple effect -- every single thing we do has an impact on the world around us," Watkins said. "Allowing ourselves to ask for help can be a catalyst for change. Look up, the lid is off."

A TEDx conference is built around the ideas of technology, entertainment and design -- or TED. The "x" represents the wild-card effect of the independently organized programs. No two TED events are the same.

"An event like this puts Quincy on the world stage," said Laura Sievert, the lead organizer of the city's inaugural TEDx program and executive director of Arts Quincy. "An event like this is normally held in a big city like Chicago. It took a lot of people to make this happen."

The nonprofit TED concept was founded in 1984 on the West Coast. Programs are now held nationwide.

At the heart of a TEDx program is the desire to bolster communities by triggering conversation and connection. The overall theme of Monday's program was "Big Ideas for Little America."

"(This kind of event) is about collaboration," said Branden Thomsen, another of the TEDx organizers who serves as artistic director of the Quincy Community Theatre.

The local TEDx organizing team also included Joi Austin, director of marketing and communications for the Great River Economic Development Foundation; Megan Duesterhaus-AuBuchon, executive director of Quanada; Kellie Henke, a retired banking executive; and Dan Conboy, executive director of the Quincy Community Theatre.

Debbie Reed, who serves as president and CEO of Chaddock, was another of the TEDx speakers. Her address was anchored through her 25 years of work with children, but was also applicable to other concerns that rely on strong, primary relationships.

"You have to have connection before correction," Reed said. "How you respond will shape how your child responds -- respond to cause, don't react to symptoms."

The 12-person lineup of speakers featured six with local ties and a half-dozen from across the state and region.

"We had requests to speak from four different continents," Sievert said. "TED talks are not so much about the ideas, but about the (ensuing) conversation."

Additional speakers included:

º Alvaro Amat, an artist, design director and educator who is the Field Museum design director in Chicago.

º Harry Wilkins III, Quincy Medical Group and Blessing Hospital surgeon.

º Jeri Conboy, director of Blessing Hospice and Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics.

º Kelsey Celek of the Quincy Community Theatre.

º Alex K. Rojas, a documentary film producer from New York.

º Victoria Bradford, A House Unbuilt artistic and executive director from Chicago.

º Roger Breisch, a speaker and philosopher from Chicago.

º Melissa Kilby, Girl Up co-executive director from Washington, D.C.

º Pres Maxon, author and humorist from Indianapolis.

º Drew Morton and Brian Lewis Smith, Soundscape musician and graphic designer from Iowa City, Iowa.

º Ryan Foland, an entrepreneur from Irvine, Calif.

Each speaker addressed the audience for about 20 minutes.

The live audience was limited to 100 people, a design of the TED concept for an event's first year.

"Next year, we will be permitted to fill the auditorium," Sievert said.

Sievert said organizers are already planning for the 2019 TEDx, but no specific date has yet been established.

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