by Taylor Swope
I’m new to the world of TEDxColumbus, and after having the opportunity to participate in the day’s events on November 7th, I wish I weren’t just catching on now.
When I signed up to attend TEDxColumbus through my company Ologie, I knew (sort of, but not really) what I was getting into. I’ve never been one to seek out a TED Talk but I’ll always watch if one goes viral on my Facebook or Twitter feeds. It’s never been something I’ve put much time into investigating. (This blog is a funny place to admit such a truth, I know.)
I went into the day with some assumptions: I’d hear people talk about some cool stuff, maybe some weird stuff, and definitely some stuff I didn’t understand. I expected to receive random morsels of information that I’d either digest or ignore.
What I realize now is that TEDxColumbus is about creativity and community, and making each a tangible part of our day. Pre-event happenings like the Morning of Action give people even more opportunity to get creative while creating community—with strangers.
I had the opportunity to attend the Morning of Action, which like me is a newbie, added to the TEDxColumbus experience just this year. Event organizers partnered with Besa, a local nonprofit that helps people and companies match volunteer opportunities with their interests and skill sets. Volunteers met at the Columbus Commons to receive assignments and then dispersed via carpool, car2go, or Uber. (My group rode in style in Ologie’s minivan.)
We arrived at St. Stephen’s Community House and met Charlene, the volunteer coordinator and possibly the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet. (She’s a retired math teacher and accepted a position with the nonprofit after serving as a volunteer.) St. Stephen’s is dedicated to helping community members find resources while promoting self-sufficiency. They offer programs such as childcare, tutoring, and senior services, and they are always looking for volunteer assistance.
Charlene divided our group into different tasks: childcare, cleaning and donation-sorting. I washed folding chairs and assembled plastic wine glasses for an upcoming fundraiser in December. Other tasks finished before mine, and volunteers who I had just met that morning came looking for me to see if they could assist me with my work. Our minivan full of strangers created our own community that morning in the spirit of service.
Along with St Stephens, volunteers fanned out to the Broad Street Food Pantry, LifeCare Alliance, Community Computer Alliance, and Dress for Success, where, with a nice tie-in to this year’s TEDxColumbus theme, volunteers organized merchandise, assisted clients, and literally helped STEAM donated clothing.
In preparation for a day of learning through speaker passion, Morning of Action participants had the opportunity to learn about the important work being done in the community, and how through creative solutions to civic issues, lives are being impacted every day. Creativity combined with passion matters, and it’s alive and well in Columbus.