Friday, May 11, 2012


what now

This is not so much a question or a theme, but a call to action from those presenters and participants at yesterday's TEDxGrandRapids event downtown and the Livestream for education at Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. The day was filled with thoughtful insight into ideas surrounding education, science, technology, social culture, and design. But more importantly within all of the speakers segments, it was really a discussion about the human condition and hopefulness for "being the change you want to see."

From highlighting contact lenses that offer the ability to transmit and receive data, to using game play as a way of discovering self, clothing made of the result of feasting bacteria, and how to love those around us, the speakers of TEDxGrandRapids offered the audience a chance to imagine the future and take part through initiatives like Community Xprize and TEDed.

One of the more emotional moments of the day included the story of Linda Ragsdale, a survivor of the 2008 attack in Mumbai. Although she was shot and witnessed the murder of friends around her, including a young girl she had promised to teach how to draw a dragon, Linda does not harbor hate for those who committed such acts; instead, she challenges all of us to come from a place of love and peace when encountering others. Her story of the dragon is one that looks to blast myths and misconceptions behind what it is; that the dragon is a symbol of peace, "whose spiky scales are revealed to show he is made of hearts; all hearts have a point, each point leads to a direction" and you have to be the one to answer "which way will you go?" She chooses the path of peace, and during her 3 days in Grand Rapids will have worked with over 11,000 students in a community art project called "The Peace Dragon Project" to encourage them to do the same. Linda is an incredible person who was warm and inviting to each person she spoke with during our breaks at the Fine Arts Center. She is a genuine example of peace personified.

There are plans to continue this Livestream for education next year and I encourage you to participate. There were quite a few Visual Arts Teachers there, and it was a great time to connect and talk with others outside of our discipline about collaborative projects. Have you ever been to a TED talk or have a favorite one to share? Please leave your insights and share your "what now" moment below.

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