Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Events, Follow This, Speakers, TEDxYouth@Columbus

Austin Channell at TEDxCbus

by Kendra Hovey

If you didn’t see it, you might have heard about it: First standing O of the day . . . 80,290 views online . . . featured on WOSU TV’s TEDxColumbus special . . . The talk, Austin Channell’s A Culture of Obsession: Why taking choir kept me from being valedictorian, was even retweeted by preeminent chorale composer Eric Whitacre—making Channell, for one hot moment, a hero among Central Ohio choir directors.

It all made for an interesting senior year of high school for Austin Channell, who never expected to be juggling his class schedule with an appearance on All Sides with Ann Fisher or piggybacking a college visit onto a speaking engagement in Virginia.

Now a high school graduate, Channell finished third in his class, but was not a valedictorian. As he says, “that would have been awkward.” In the fall, he’ll attend Vanderbilt University, where he plans to study civil engineering.

Austin Channell on all sides with Ann FisherHis TEDx talk, to quickly refresh, grew out of a real life quandary: He could take choir in high school, get an A and, as a result, lower his GPA. Or he could sign up for study hall and end up with a higher GPA. As absurd as this sounds, it’s also built into the educational grading system. As Channell deftly points out, it is possible for a student to “succeed in more areas and be penalized for it.”

It’s not that he had some great ambition to be a valedictorian, as he says, “It was the principle of the thing.” And the problem is bigger than just some nonsensical grade point system. At issue, is the larger and more complicated matter of how we choose to define and measure success, and the resulting effects on college-entrance, and the self-esteem, health and well-being of our youth.

For students, it can lead to some silly scheduling maneuvers—going to art class while officially signed up for study hall. But if college is going to be in the picture, GPA is vital, and even as current business-speak extols the virtues of failure while the social sciences send out alerts about the dangers of perfectionism, students know exactly the fine line they have to walk.

If an A in a non-AP class can reduce GPA or just one B can plummet a class rank from one to one hundred and something, an example Channell shares, why take a risk? Or follow an interest? Maybe the student truly is that much less smart or less studious than before the B, either way, at many colleges, her application’s gone from the top of the pile to the slush pile. Grading—how it varies between districts, schools and teachers and what exactly it measures—is not just a complicated puzzle for administrators. Channell is telling us it’s having real effects, adverse effects, on real lives.

Yet not every high schooler with something important to say, says it on the TEDx stage. In fact, in the history of TEDxColumbus there’ve been exactly two: Austin Channell and Meagan Jones. Channell’s journey began courtesy of his public school, where a posted flyer and a nudge from a teacher led to an internship with TEDxYouth. Working with Andy Aichele for two years, he helped plan, coach and stage manage the event. “We spent a lot of time at a lot of Paneras,” he says. As can happen when working with TED, the question pops up: “What would be your talk?” When Achiele would pose it, Channell, took it as idle musing, at least until the day he began “ranting” about his situation. As he recalls, “Andy said, ‘This is your talk,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah…it is.’ ”

Austin Channell interviewed by CBS News Pittsburg

Once he left the TEDxColumbus stage, it didn’t take long for the tweeting and sharing to start, as well as the dialogue and invitations to speak. He’s been interviewed on various news programs, shared versions of the talk at a school board meeting, at the Ohio Department of Education (twice) and, by invitation of a PTA, as far away as Falls Church, Virginia. The small city, essentially a suburb of DC, is in the wealthiest county in the U.S. and home to supposedly the best high school in the country (though public, admission is selective). In Falls Church, says Channell, “even the middle school librarian has an ivy league degree.” It was there, during the Q&A, that Channell was asked maybe the most heart-breaking question. It came from an 8th grader. To paraphrase, she asked, “What if I don’t feel so driven to succeed, but my parents want it and I don’t want to make them unhappy?”

This child’s question helps explain the strong response to Channell’s talk. Education is not just about student and teacher, but administrators, communities, society, says Channell, and the core relationship between parent and child. “We know education is a hot button issue,” he says, “some relate to what they see as an unfair system, some question how we assess learning, some defend the system, but for parents in particular, the effects on their children are really concerning—I know how hard it was on my own parents to witness the physical toll of my class schedule and academic stress.”

Another reason for the overwhelming response may just be that Austin Channell did a really good job. And were I to add “for his age” it’s not to put a qualifier on his abilities, but to acknowledge age is a factor. Though he doesn’t attempt to offer a solution, and while people are listening and talking no changes have yet been made (though his school board just announced it will be reviewing the valedictorian system), still in Channell’s TEDx talk there is hope. Because despite everything we have left the next generation to grapple with, if they still come out smart, articulate, principled and mature, there’s definitely hope.

Whether Channell agrees with this or not, he can’t deny that people are impressed with his public speaking abilities, because the reality is he gets asked about it all the time. He actually loves this question. He knows exactly where he learned stage presence and how to engage an audience, and he’s happy to share: “It’s theater,” he says, “It’s what the arts can do for you.”

Another question catches him more off-guard. The details vary each time, but it goes something like this: “Would you mind if we drove three hours from Pittsburg to interview you?” Or, “We can pay to fly you and your mom to Virginia, put you up in a hotel, give you a rental car, pay for your food and a travel stipend…would that be okay?” Recounting these today, he still sounds bemused: “It’s one of those questions people would ask, but I’m still not sure . . . who says no to this?”

If this whole experience has been a bit disorienting for Channell, it’s also been humbling and motivating. Amazed by how far and wide the talk has spread, he also wonders if maybe he should have put more into it—more than writing it during an 11th period study hall, he confesses. This concern comes from the perfectionist in him, but also from a real sense of responsibility.

He has no obligation but to go off and be a college student and pursue his interest in civil engineering. But that’s not how he’s feeling. “I don’t know what form it will take or what point in my life it will happen,” he says, but the issue is not behind him. By sheer coincidence, Vanderbilt is home to Peabody College, the best graduate school of education in the nation. He’s already made contact, though just out of curiosity. He does say that, in his mind, from civil engineering to education is not a huge leap. “Civil engineering is about creating and maintaining systems. Though more infrastructure related, it’s borderline policy,” he says. Plus, he’s never been one for purely technical pursuits, being more macro- than micro-focused.

The system of education is one of many things he’s looking forward to potentially exploring in college. But for the moment, he’s got his graveyard shift at a truck parts warehouse. Spending his summer laboring alongside mostly fulltime union workers, ”I put parts in boxes,” he says, “I close the box and put a shipping label on it.” He’s in it for the money—“I know I’ll be poor in college, but my goal is to be less poor in college”—but as a side benefit, he’s listened to a lot of audio books.

One night that audiobook was The Ghost Map about a cholera epidemic in 1854. “If you want to get strange looks from people, just listen to a description of someone suffering from cholera,” he says. When the guys around him asked what he was listening to, it blossomed into a group discussion about medical issues and the scientific process. “Turn it up,” someone suggested, and at 10:00 on a summer night instead of a muffled din of rap, metal and various podcasts, blaring inside this truck parts warehouse was a story about disease and sanitation in mid-19th century London, England. Yet another unexpected and interesting experience in what has been an unexpected and interesting year for Austin Channell.

 

Kendra Hovey is editor at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at kendrahovey.com

0

Follow This, Speakers, TEDxColumbus, TEDxYouth@Columbus

Heroes2u

by Kendra Hovey

A dollar may not get you a lot, but five of them will get you into a group video chat with America’s favorite zookeeper Jack Hanna, and the chance to be one of eight to speak with Hanna face-to-face. It will also make you an instant philanthropist, as four of your dollars will go straight to Hanna’s charity of choice—The Wilds.

The chat (April 9th: get your tickets soon) is one of many “memorable conversations” for “meaningful causes” from Heroes2U, a new social enterprise that connects inspirational people with their followers to raise money for charity. Hanna is the latest hero. TEDxColumbus speaker Decker Moss was the first. Future heroes include country music star Phil Vassar, NFLers Kurt Coleman and John Hughes, as well as two wildlife conservationists (who with Hanna form a kind of Earth Day trilogy).

The project is the brainchild of two Columbus twenty-somethings, John Weiler and Jeremy Meizlish, who developed the idea while still undergrads. After a seed investment last June from the Tony R. Wells Foundation, Heroes2U hosted its first beta chat in October, one day after TEDxColumbus (along with Moss, speaker Scott Gaudi was also an early hero). The website launched mid-February. It’s where you’ll find videos of past chats and all the need-to-knows regarding webcams, tickets, etc.

Millennials are the target audience for Heroes2U. Not your typical gala-goers, it’s a group that charitable outreach tends to reach right over. Quoting research, John Weiler says that millennials give at a price point of 1 to 100 dollars, and they give on-line. “Our generation is a largely untapped force for philanthropy,” he says.

As a kind of gateway to giving, Heroes2U breaks down this barrier between young people and philanthropy. It also breaks through the assumption that Gen-Yers are more into instant gratification than generosity. Not surprisingly, barrier-breaking is a favorite pastime of John and Jeremy. It’s the subject of their own 2012 TEDxYouth@Columbus Talk, where the first barrier to go is the label Generation Y. They rename it Generation Y Not, turning implied judgments of “lazy, entitled, un-experienced and uneducated” into possibility—because, as they see it, techno-savvy Generation Y Not has a huge possibility advantage.

Technology has already reduced the barrier between celebrities and us regular folks, but it’s one thing to “follow,” another to engage, and John and Jeremy want more from this new accessibility; they want meaningful interaction, and to break through yet another barrier: Status. As they say, “we bring the heroes to you, and bring out the hero in all that participate.”

And how exactly do they get these heroes? So far, by making and utilizing every single connection they can. But once they have an in, Heroes2U is an easy sell: 30 minutes, the hero chooses where, when and which charity. Plus, most speakers say the best part of any event is the Q&A. Getting the word out, both to heroes and participants, is still their biggest job right now. For both Jeremy and John it’s full-time and unpaid. They have one paid employee—a web developer—but as owners they made a decision that they‘ll get paid when they have “completed their mission” and not before.

In the meantime, “it’s a really cool journey,” says John. “Until I saw our local charities, up-close” he says, “I didn’t fully grasp the giving community we have here—it’s very inspirational.” Also, while he and Jeremy hoped that the distance of a video chat would not lessen the quality of interactions, they weren’t entirely sure. But after one “chatter” teared-up and the hero offered a virtual hug, they both knew that facilitating meaningful connections was not going to be a problem.

They have some details to work out, such as achieving their goal of fundraising (helped along by big famous names) while also still being able to share the powerful stories of lesser-known heroes. Post-launch, their commitment remains strong. In fact, they recently had an experience that all but confirmed their mission.

A few months back, they shelled out $150 each, put on their best suits, and went to a black-tie fundraiser. Their thinking was: since the inaccessibility of traditional charity events, such as galas, is part of their pitch, they ought to at least attend one. The honored guest that night was basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. On stage, Shaq told a room-silencing story about how, as a kid, everyone expected him to be a bully, so he was. But one day his bullying caused a boy to seizure, and right then he made a very emotional decision that he didn’t want to be a bully, and he wasn’t going to be. The MC that night, newscaster Jerry Revish, commented that more young people needed to hear this story … and in the audience, two people, John and Jeremy—the youngest in the room that night by far—couldn’t agree more.

 

Kendra Hovey is editor and head writer at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at kendrahovey.com

0

Events, Follow This, Speakers, TEDxColumbus, TEDxColumbusWomen, TEDxWomen

by Kendra Hovey

Sold out in one day. Attendance up five-fold. All the sudden, TEDxColumbusWomen is a rock star. In its fourth year, the live-stream of the annual TEDWomen conference added something new: five talks from local speakers—which might explain the sudden surge in interest, except it was announced after the last ticket sold. 

This post shares some event highlights and commentary, but for those eager to skip ahead…

For local TEDxColumbusWomen speakers:
Jump to Session II

For TEDWomen speakers:
Jump to Session I

Or, to begin with general info and impressions, simply read on.

TEDxColumbusWomen was held on December 5th at the Columbus Foundation. TEDWomen 2013: Invented Here streamed from San Francisco—the title, in part, an acknowledgement of the host city. The first set of TEDWomen talks (Session I:  To Be Is To Do) took the most literal approach to the Invented Here theme, rolling out one innovative product after another: an energy-generating soccer ball, an affordable artificial knee, a preemie incubator for home use, a smarter spacesuit, and more.

Ideally, content should stand on its own, and when that content is literally bouncing (soccer ball) or walking (spacesuit) on the stage in front of you, this ideal seems almost possible. But, as both neuroscience and social science tell us, to veil identity (gender or otherwise) is not so easy, nor is it always helpful. Plus, to gloss over the subject would make TEDWomen less interesting. The event had me constantly thinking about gender. It’s kind of the point of it, even as gender was rarely the actual topic of a talk.

Beyond sharing hidden histories and the great breadth and diversity of women’s work, accomplishments and insights, the event brings gender into focus in other ways. Krista Donaldson designs products for people living on less than $4 a day. Jessica Matthews delights in other people’s hacks to her products. User-focus is in no way gender-specific, yet there was something different in how speakers, repeatedly, put the user at center stage. And when speaker Jane Chen called her life-saving scientific invention “technology powered by love,” I wondered would she say it exactly like that at a technology conference or at Big TED? And if she did, would it come out just as easily and just as heartfelt? Maybe, but that I had the question at all is what I mean when I say gender was on my mind.

Also, not every event takes note of its male audience members. This one did. And the irritating buzz that accompanied the first few talks couldn’t help but make me aware of gender. TEDWomen is one of TED’s three annual conferences, and I’ve never seen serious technical glitches like that at livestreams of TED or TEDGlobal.

And then there are the MCs. They talk a lot, in a way some may find supportive, but that I find cloying. It is less the MCs, though, then my reaction to them that had me acutely aware of gender. I’m hard-pressed to think of a time when two men on a stage represented all men, but the day I can listen to these MCs and be merely annoyed instead of cringing, it will be a sign of a more enlightened world and a more enlightened me.  [For good or bad, the MCs are not in the online videos.]

Here are some of the stand-out talks from Session I: To Be Is To Do:

  • Jessica Matthews, partly for jump roping in heels, mostly for her delight when users change and improve her products, and also for her big points that 1) play is a tool for social impact and 2) invention is less about the product and more about the people it “invents.”
  • Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley who fell ill, so instead was spoken about by Google VP Megan Smith, who also shared part of a documentary about this early programmer. For me, this talk was a bargain: I went from utterly ignorant about women in technology to somewhat knowledgeable in just ten minutes. Did you know that the first programmer was a woman? I didn’t. Far more shocking, Megan Smith didn’t either.
  • Maya Penn because she is creative, generous, industrious and only thirteen.
  • Diana Nyad because she is riveting and her presence is commanding. Plus, there’s the deadly box jellyfish and hallucinations of the Taj Majal.

 

 


Following a break for cupcakes and conversation, Session II featured five talks from local speakers, sharing insights on diverse topics. If there is a throughline that connects them all, it is that each spoke from the knowledge that comes from lived experience and that each, on some level, is a story of self-invention (yet another take on the theme Invented Here). Also, ranging from four minutes to fourteen, the talks are short. To watch all five, you can go straight to the playlist. Or, for more of a foothold, without giving much away, here’s a brief word on each:

1. In her talk, Celia Crossley shares her rather circuitous route to her career as a career strategist helping others route or create their own careers. Her big point: by all means, Lean In, if you can, but know that there is another path to job satisfaction, personal fulfillment, and economic viability: Leaning Out.

 

2. Her country, her community, and her comfortable day-to-day life suddenly collapsed. As a Tutsi married to a Hutu, her family collapsed. As a person who was loved and suddenly deemed an outcast, her identity collapsed. After the genocide in her home country, Norah Bagirinka did not feel human and did not think she would ever feel human again. Her humanity fully restored and thriving, she shares her story, her current work with Rwanda Women In Action and her insights into what it takes to create a bridge to a new life.

 

3. Barbara Allen can work a room. That’s one reason to watch this video. Another is to learn about the improv mantra: Yes… And…. Currently in vogue as a work organization tool, the concept may not be new, but Allen’s wholesome and big-hearted delivery is.

 

4. Gabrielle Smith is a teenager entrepreneur. She’ll graduate high school this summer, almost three years after she launched her small business. Her talk shares what can happen when a maker takes her passion seriously.

 

5. JoDee Davis works with people that you, most likely, do everything you can to avoid. It’s okay, says Davis, she once tried to avoid these people, too. But an experience changed her. On one level, her talk is an interesting story about meeting success time and time again and struggling to understand why (with help, she eventually does). On another level, her talk is a powerful story that has a strong potential to shift your understanding.  And I’ll leave it at that.

 

All photos by Tessa Potts, except Diana Nyad by Marla Aufmuth, courtesy of TEDWomen 2013

Kendra Hovey is editor and head writer at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at kendrahovey.com

0

Follow This, Speakers, TEDxColumbus

[by Kendra Hovey]

You won’t find the village of Piol on Google Earth. You’ll find it by dirt road. That is, if the weather is dry. If not, you’ll wait in Bor a day, maybe more, until the road is clear. Then, it’s another sixty miles across South Sudan’s Jonglei state, but you will find Piol and, there, you’ll find something oddly familiar: The iconic Block O; a building called Buckeye Clinic; perhaps even a few villagers wearing their scarlet and gray.

If you happen to recognize Piol as the home village of TEDxColumbus speaker Bol Aweng, you already have some idea of just how much he has accomplished since his 2010 talk. Back then a working medical clinic in his South Sudan village was just an idea. Three years and a little more than $200,000 later, the Buckeye Clinic is a functioning healthcare facility with a vaccination program, maternity ward and staff of five.

It’s a huge change: Previous healthcare in Piol amounted to a table under a tree and one man with enough fluency in English to read labels and hand out medicine. And, it’s made a huge difference: According to the latest count (2009), in this part of the world only 1 in 5 children survives past the age of five. But in Piol, the clinic has inoculated over 500 children from potentially fatal but preventable diseases. “Now 5 out of 5 children may live to age 5,” says Aweng, and parents who before did not dare to dream because, as he says, “my child may be taken away,” now have hopes for their children and are even making plans for their future.

While there’s more to do and more money to raise, clearly Bol Aweng has achieved the goal he shared in 2010 to help his family, his village and south Sudan.

Since then, he’s accomplished one or two other things as well:

  • He illustrated a children’s book Maluak’s Cows written by his late cousin Maluak Chol
  • He makes and sells his art
  • He speaks and is a guest artist at various schools, churches and organizations

And all of this he does while holding down a full-time job (second shift) at a Walmart distribution center, and also managing all the demands and joys of life as a new husband and father.

That’s another change since taking the stage at TEDxColumbus: Bol Aweng is married and he has a young daughter named Kiki. He and his wife Ajiel first met as youths in the Kenyan refugee camps. Though it took a year-plus, immigration-induced wait before Ajiel and Kiki could join him in the US, the family of three is together in Columbus. Very soon they will be a family of four—a baby boy is due any day now.

To those familiar with his story, this will all come as particularly welcome news. Bol Aweng, like his friend Jok Dau, is one of the 35,000 Lost Boys of Sudan and one of less than half that number to survive. To hear his story (best told by him, here) is to wish for him not just success, but the most basic personal happiness; to wish, in fact, for every kind of happiness there is—for him, his family and for all the lost boys and girls of Sudan.

Though we don’t hear as much about them, girls were also traumatized, displaced, killed or orphaned during the long civil war. After 20 years of separation, Bol Aweng was able to reunite with his family, but his younger sister Nyankiir remained missing. She had been abducted in 1991 when she was only four years old. “We feared she was not alive, but held out hope,” says Aweng.

In the spring of this year, word spread to Piol of a woman in the far eastern part of Jonglei who was believed to look like Nyankiir. When travel was possible—and the limitations on this cannot be overstated: there are only 80 miles of paved road in the country; zero in Jonglei state; rains can quickly make dirt roads impassable; and bandits can make any road unsafe—Bol Aweng’s father, accompanied by the village chief, went to meet her.

“My father knows my sister has certain marks on her body,” recounts Bol, “ ‘if you have these marks’ he says to her ‘then I know you are my daughter’ and she has them and shows them to him and they both cannot talk to one another anymore and just cried.”

Nyankiir has a husband and two children. She no longer speaks her native Dinka, so the family must communicate through an interpreter. Bol was able to talk to her on the phone, and she is expected to visit Piol at Christmas this year and reunite with the rest of the family. What she remembers and what she experienced is still a story to unfold. But whatever the past or the future, the happiness to have found her, says Bol, is beyond words.

When Nyankiir does come to Piol she will see the Buckeye Clinic, perhaps even her children will benefit from its inoculation program, as the children of her and Bol’s other siblings have. Along with vaccinations, the clinic also offers health education and basic primary health care services. Birth services, and a maternity ward for those experiencing complications, as well as, emergency transportation and medical training are planned for the near future. Funding for these services, as well as construction, utilities and personnel, comes almost entirely from the people of Columbus, Ohio. You may not know this, but there is a blue lion in Piol. Also a golden bear and a wolf with a blue paw print. You’ll find them in and around the clinic and on the catchment system providing clean water to the village, each one marking the fundraising efforts of Columbus-area schools.

From large-scale fundraising projects to each individual donation, the support, says Aweng, has been wonderful: “This was something I needed to do, but lack of funds can dismantle the idea. Then the community of Columbus joined me and now we see the day of a clinic in my village. I really feel proud about the people of Columbus.”

Steve Walker, long-time friend and mentor to both Bol Aweng and Jok Dau and also a major force behind the clinic project, reports that the next crucial steps are to hire a full-time midwife and nurse, and to raise more money for operating costs. The project is about $80,000 shy of the $300,000 goal that will fund the clinic for three years, after which it is expected to be sustained by the primary health care plan developed by the new—as well as the first and the only—government of South Sudan.

On July 9, 2011, after a nearly unanimous vote (98.9%), The Republic of South Sudan officially became an independent state. It is an exciting and much-welcome development, says Aweng, but the world’s youngest country is “still struggling a lot,” he says. While there is no shortage of outside interest in oil, Aweng also welcomes investment in agriculture, business, transportation, healthcare, security and, more than anything, education.

Building the clinic at the same time the country is building itself brings with it a unique set of challenges. Imagine that between interviewing and hiring, the country enacts a social security plan. Suddenly there are more rules, regulations and costs to figure out. But, quite unexpectedly, the project now has more help on the ground.

Last April, Steve Walker travelled to Piol with Jok Dau, who, as a lost boy also from Piol, has, in broad strokes, a story similar to Bol Aweng’s. Dau, in fact, was scheduled to speak with Aweng at TEDxColumbus, but was unable to get the day off work. In April, when he and Walker flew to Africa, Dau was in a much better job at the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and, just one year earlier, had travelled to South Sudan to marry Abol, his fiancé. This time, after two weeks working with the community in Piol and meeting with various government officials, Walker flew home, while Dau was to stay on three more weeks to help expedite his wife’s visa application and to visit with his new in-laws.

Three weeks passed, but Dau did not return. He made the mistake of skipping his pills and contracted malaria. As he began to recover, his wife who had been caring for him contracted not only malaria, but typhoid fever as well. Dau did not feel he could leave. He resigned from the USCIS. At the time, Walker was concerned for Dau’s future, but “Jok reassured me,” Walker recounts, “he told me ‘I will just start over’ and, well, I thought, that is one thing he certainly does know how to do.”

Recovery took months, but today both are healthy. Dau recently took a job training government staff in taxation and capacity building, and he continues to assist with the Buckeye Clinic. Turns out that having him “on the ground” has been an invaluable resource, says Walker.

Bol Aweng fully expects Dau will find a way to return with his wife to the US. Looking at Dau’s life now, as well as his own, I asked Bol Aweng what it feels like today, as a man, artist, employee, husband, father, philanthropist, to hear himself called a Lost Boy of Sudan. To answer, he began by talking about those 20 years: “Totally crazy,” he says, “no sense to them…and how I was able to cope…I can only say God is great. The Lost Boys of Sudan is about the history, but those 20 years are a big part of my life, and though, yes, I am a man, I have a happy life…the name ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’… it is a reality.”

 

UPDATE: 12-8-13: Baby Aweng has arrived! At 8 pounds, baby is in good health. So is mom.

UPDATE 1-3-14: On December 15th, a political dispute escalated into an open conflict that has killed 1,000 people and displaced nearly 200,000. Fighting first erupted in Juba, then on December 25th rebels attacked Bor, the majority-Dinka capitol of Jonglei State that is about 60 miles south of Piol.

Steve Walker was able to talk to Jok Dau by phone on December 27th. He reports that Jok was evacuated to Nairobi by air by the US State Dept. His wife Adol, who had been in Juba for a medical appointment, fled by car to Kampala, Uganda. She made it to the border town Nimule, but for unknown reasons was unable to cross into Uganda. Jok says she is safe there with many other refugees also fleeing Juba. Adol was seeking medical care in Juba because, in news Jok was happy to share, she is pregnant.

When Bor was attacked, civilians either sought safety at the UN headquarters (as Bol Aweng’s sister did) or fled to their home villages. Bol says that over 1,000 fled to Piol, where they are without food or shelter. There is no food in the village and everything in the nearest towns has been looted by the rebels. Both Steve and Bol have been trying to get in touch with the staff at the clinic, but the phone network has been down for weeks.

Today (1-3-14) the US government announced a further reduction in embassy staff. So far one American death has been reported (though not officially confirmed): a former “Lost Boy” who had returned to prepare for his wedding. Also today, official talks between the government and rebel forces (led by former Vice President Machar) begin in Ethiopia. Previously, the African Union has said it would “take further measures if hostilities did not cease” in four days from today. It remains unclear what those measures might be.

UPDATE 3-10-14: After two months with no word from his home village, Bol was finally able to talk to a Buckeye Clinic staff member on February 12. He learned that most families in Piol had fled to the swampy land on the Nile, including Bol’s family. The Buckeye Clinic remained and remains open. The village chief and clinic staff stayed behind.

A cease-fire agreement was signed on January 23, 2014. Though there is still insecurity in the country. There were reports of renewed fighting in late February in Malakal in the Upper Nile region, north of Piol and close to the Sudan border, and a brief clash in Juba on March 5th. The UN, which publishes a weekly update on the crisis, reports that since Dec 15th over 900,000 have been displaced from their homes. 

Photos courtesy of southsudanclinic.org, except independence celebration courtesy os Reuters. 

Kendra Hovey is editor and head writer at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at kendrahovey.com

0

It’s our fifth year.  How did THAT happen?

And while we aren’t going to have someone jump out of plane to celebrate, we are proud to announce what might be our most ambitious line up in the short history of TEDxColumbus.  Join us on October 11 from 9-4 (with happy hour until 5) at COSI to witness this collection of thinkers, researchers, provocateurs, rainmakers, entertainers and game-changers, all of whom, in their own right, are doing things truly OUT THERE. Come join a dynamic crowd of curious folks to be collectively provoked, challenged and inspired, while connecting, conversing and processing it all together.

A few changes from past year’s events:  We have selected more speakers  — but to speak for shorter times, upon audience request.  We’ve curated two special groups to join our expected, provocative talks.  Here is the complete lineup (access their bios and abstracts through the speaker home page here).

For being OUT THERE in their investigations, solutions, ideas, courage or reach.  Talks include:

  • On rebuilding cities, Mohamed Ali.
  • On global warming, David Bromwich .
  • On gender fluidity, Gabrielle Burton.
  • On revolutionizing hacking, Chris Domas.
  • On finding new planets, Scott Gaudi.
  • On giving back out there, when you are in there, Jim Fussell
  • On a basic unmet human need, Nancy Kramer.
  • On the courage to change, Decker Moss.
  • On reaching deep inside the brain, Ali Rezai.
  • On new rules for systems, Joe Simkins.
  • On entertaining us,  Tobin-Wilcox and The Castros.

Five in five.  (Okay, we did want to celebrate being five.)

For being OUT THERE in their passions –  in five minutes each.

  • On writing through logic, Miriam Bowers Abbott.
  • On paying attention, Chris Fraser.
  • On exploring within, Josh Hara.
  • On coming out of the valley, Stephanie Hughes.
  • On a dynamic bike city, Jess Mathews.

Sensory Talks. Playing on the five theme (last time, promise!), we’ve invited a group of speakers to share an incredible range of thinking on our five main senses.

  • On smells in a city, Dax Blake.
  • On our scent and taste memory, Tom Knotek.
  • On saving sight, Kaweh Mansouri.
  • On the power of touch, Lori Guth Moffett.
  • On challenging the ability to listen, Susan Nittrouer.

And we encourage you to move quickly if you’d like to attend.  We expect, as always, tickets to sell out. Tickets can be purchased here.

TEDxColumbus 2013 is made possible with support of the following partners:

Lead Sponsor, resource.

Event Partners, The Columbus Foundation, The Doug and Monica Kridler Fund of the Columbus Foundation, Limited Brands Foundation, Cardinal Health and The Ohio State University.

Presenting Sponsors, GSW Worldwide, Ologie, Crane Group, Glimcher, IntoGreat, Alliance Data, Crimson Cup,

Media Partner, WOSU

Host Partner, COSI and Host Supporter, Susan Leohner Events.

Creative Support is provided by Base Art Co., Spacejunk Media, and BonFire Red.

 

 

 

1

We’ve invited our past TEDxColumbus speakers and other friends to give us their top five favorite talks to in turn, share with you, for our Friday Favorites blog series.

This week, Brian Roche (full bio below) TEDxColumbus 2012 speaker shares his favorite talks.

 

1. Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

 

2. Theresa Flores: Find a Voice with Soap

 

3. Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight

 

4. Terrell Strayhorn:Inalienable Rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Belonging

 

5. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

 

Brian Roche, Ph.D., is a board certified toxicologist with more than 15 years of experience in cardiovascular, respiratory and CNS safety pharmacology research and is currently the manager of Battelle’s safety pharmacology research group. His research has focused on toxicological and pharmacological evaluations, including QT interval assessments, of drug candidates that are advancing to the Food and Drug Administration’s Initial New Drug application and clinical studies. Additionally, Brian is the technical lead for development of predictive and translatable model systems to investigate drug-induced cardiac injury.

Batelle Safety Pharmacologist, Brian Roche outlines his case that surviving chemotherapy for cancer treatment has consequences.  For up to 15% of patients receiving chemo, there is irreversible cardiac damage. Brian was a 2012 TEDxColumbus speaker.

0

We’ve invited our past TEDxColumbus speakers and other friends to give us their top five favorite talks to in turn, share with you, for our Friday Favorites blog series.

This week, Phil Cogley AKA “The Saturday Giant” (full bio below) TEDxColumbus 2010 performer shares his favorite talks.

1. Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong

2. Suzanne Beachy: What’s next for truth?

3. Matt Slaybaugh: Finally, this is for you

4. Hans Rosling: Global population growth, box by box

5. Michael Wilkos: Surprise, it’s Columbus 2.0!

 

After a period of experimentation with a variety of recording techniques and instrumentation, and amidst a one year sojourn in Pittsburgh, Cogley set to work writing and recording his debut effort, a concept album titled You’ve Heard of Dragons. The Album posits the hypothetical scenario of world domination by malevolent reptilian humaniods (say that three times fast!) as a way of grappling with war, natural disasters, and the end of the world. Phil was a 2010 TEDxColumbus performer.

0

We’ve invited our past TEDxColumbus speakers and other friends to give us their top five favorite talks to in turn, share with you, for our Friday Favorites blog series.

This week, Maryanna Klatt (full bio below) TEDxColumbus 2011 speaker shares her favorite talks.

1. Paul Zak: Trust, morality — and oxytocin?

 

2. Terri Wahl: Minding your Mitochondria

 

3. Brené Brown: Listening to shame

 

4. Atul Gawande: How do we heal medicine?

 

5. Dr. Mimi Guarneri: Shifting the Healthcare Paradigm

 

Maryanna Klatt, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor, in the College of Medicine at Ohio State University, teaching undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, and Family Medicine Residents. The focus of her teaching, research and practice is Integrative Medicine, which is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by scientific evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and healing. She created and directs an interdisciplinary minor at OSU, Integrative Approaches to Health and Wellness. Her students are the health care providers of tomorrow and she is energized by their commitment to understanding the whole person of the patient. Teaching has been a source of joy in her life.

Dr. Klatt’s research focus has been to develop and evaluate feasible, cost-effective ways to reduce the risk of stress-related chronic illness, for both adults and children. Trained in Mindfulness and a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance, she combines these two approaches in a unique approach to stress prevention/reduction. Her adult Mindfulness-Based Intervention, Mindfulness in Motion, is delivered at the worksite, while the program for children, Fuel for Learning is a classroom based intervention. Both programs combine yoga, mindfulness, and relaxing music, yielding stress reduction, increased quality of sleep, and improvements in problem behavior often related to stress in children. She has published several articles and book chapters, and has presented her work at national and international scientific conferences. Dr. Klatt believes that we can get more out of life by slowing down, reorienting each day to what is most essential in life. Mindfulness is the art of being present for one’s life- and all it has to offer. It is a self regulatory skill that can be learned. Mindfulness teaches people how to become aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body, without judgment. It exposes stress as the result of our response to life events (big and small) and places stress reduction within the individual- the most local of levels. Dr. Klatt believes that there is an unexplored mine of low cost, high yield movement and meditation practices that have broad pragmatic value. Her goal is to expose people to mindfulness, yoga, and breathing techniques that can be done during the day, in the environment in which they spend their day, helping them achieve the life and balance that they desire.

Maryanna and her husband Bill, an Appellate Judge on the 10th District Court of Appeals, have three grown children, Will (25), Anna (22), and Joseph (19) who are the best mindfulness teachers one could ever imagine. They are each passionate about life and want to leave the world a better place than they found it. Having a healthy marriage and parenting their children in tandem, have been the central foci of Maryanna and Bill’s personal and professional journeys, taken together. This is the central joy of her life. Maryanna was a 2011 TEDxColumbus Speaker

0

We’ve invited our past TEDxColumbus speakers and other friends to give us their top five favorite talks to in turn, share with you, for our Friday Favorites blog series.

This week, Suzanne Beachy (full bio below) TEDxColumbus 2010 speaker shares her favorite talks.

Jake Shimabukuro: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Robert Gupta: Music is medicine, music is sanity

Sebastian Wernick: Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks)

Eleanor Longden: Learning from the voices in my head

Elizabeth Gilbert:Your elusive creative genius

A mom since 1980, Suzanne Beachy began packing school lunches for her son Jake in 1986. Twenty-four years later, she is still packing school lunches for her young kids, Natalie and Collin. In addition to the usual mommish duties of cleaning up messes and attending to the needs of young digestive systems, Suzanne has worked for pay as a music librarian, bass player, stage hand, professional letter writer and copy editor, and as a partner in her husband Tim’s building business. Suzanne was a TEDxColumbus 2010 speaker.

 

0

We’ve invited our past TEDxColumbus speakers and other friends to give us their top five favorite talks to in turn, share with you, for our Friday Favorites blog series.

This week, Matt Slaybaugh (full bio below) who opened the first TEDxColumbus in 2009 and performed again in 2010 shares his favorite talks.

1. Brene Brown: Listening to Shame

2. Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music

3. Barbara Fant

4. Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

5. Barry Schwartz: Our loss of wisdom

 

Slaybaugh is the Artistic Director of Available Light Theatre. His writing and directing of new plays and original works for Available Light and the BlueForms Theatre Group has been lauded by American Theatre magazine, New York Press, NYtheatre.com, the Central Ohio Theatre Critics Circle, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, and the Victoria BC Times Colonist. He serves on the Greater Columbus Creative Cultural Commission, teaches at Columbus College of Art & Design and the Columbus State Community College Life Long Learning Institute, and writes for the Agit Reader, and IndieColumbus.com. Matt was a TEDxColumbus 2009 & 2010 speaker.

0

PREVIOUS POSTSPage 2 of 3NEXT POSTS