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TEDx Set for Saturday at UWF

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Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
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“Serving Us” is the theme for the second annual TEDx show in Pensacola, set for Saturday, Nov. 2 at the University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

It's a one day full-day event; catering and refreshments are included. Eleven live speakers, 2 TEDtalk videos, along with short performances and experiences. Liz Allen is chief organizer; the decision to choose “Serving Us” was hers, because she says service is ingrained in the Pensacola community.

“Everyone just loves to serve here; it’s so different from other communities I have seen,” said Allen, who moved to Pensacola about seven years ago. “Such as, we have a large military bases; a wide range of education and hospital facilities, as well as just the general public is ready to drop everything to go and help save someone that they haven’t met before.”

The first TEDx for Allen was last year, after acquiring a TED license and signing nine live speakers. Finding volunteers was one of the biggest challenges for the inaugural event, which was held at WSRE-TV. Access was another.

“Just working out the right kind of venue space; it may not have worked right for the intervals for a TEDx platform just because they had to walk upstairs or go up in an elevator,” Allen said. “Whereas we’ve moved to UWF – and as soon as you walk in the door, we have a large lobby to play with.”

Each talk usually portrays one idea in a captivating way, says Allen, helping the audience to see from a completely new experience. She adds that the 11 scheduled speakers are diverse across the multidisciplinary spectrum.

“Madrina Ciano, she’s the first speaker, a very powerful speaker,” Allen said. “And then we’re going to have Daniella DeCastro – you’re probably seen her murals around town – she’s going to be speaking about the connectivity between that and kind of truth-telling with murals. And then we have Michael DeMaria.”

“My topic is, ‘Music as Medicine;’ so I’ll be telling a little bit about my 26-year journey with reclaiming my first love of music,” DeMaria said. “I’ll also be performing a little bit right after lunch, and then doing my own TED talk.”

The Grammy Award-winning musician agrees with the old adage “laughter is the best medicine.” But he adds that music is even more so.

“Music just has a way of opening our hearts; and it’s also the language that goes across gender and nationality and ethnicity,” said DeMaria. “And in this world of polarization, part of my message is music crosses all these boundaries and can help bring up back together as people.”

But in this time of polarization – political, spiritual, economic and elsewhere – DeMaria concedes that the challenge is immense. 

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“It’s like in music; you have different conversations going on, but they’re all playing in the same key,” said DeMaria. “That’s what we’re missing today. And so, I’ll be talking a little bit about how, to me, not only every moment is a note in the song of today, but each one of us are a note in the song of peace that the world needs today.”

Organizer Liz Allen is hoping those attending TEDx will gain much through the range of speakers, topics, and events.

“Just come with an open mind, and be ready to see the world in a completely new perspective, as well as just learning more about what the world’s about as well,” Allen said. “You’re only really going to get that full energy if you’re there as part of the audience, and you’re getting that from the stage.”

TED – the original acronym was Technology, Education and Design -- began in 1984 with the first conference in Vancouver. Businessman Chris Anderson purchased the franchise in 2001 and turned it into the non-profit Sapling Foundation, from which Ted-x was developed.

“And so I guess Chris Anderson had decided that he really loved this idea and wanted to spread it around the globe,” said Allen. “And what better way to do that but give your brand out for free – obviously to licensees who have to apply. That’s branched out into all disciplinaries, from development [and] business -- just everything you can think of,” Allen said.

More information on the TED-x event at the University of West Florida can be found at www.TEDxPensacola.com.