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On Friday, November 16, 2018, fourteen Columbus area residents will become part of the TEDxColumbus community when they present their talks for On the Edge.


Meet Danae Wolfe:

It’s a really small world after all

by: Wendy Cornett


Bringing respect and even compassion to the much-maligned world of insects is no easy feat. But one woman has found a way to stir emotional attachments to six- and eight-legged creepy crawlies one spectacularly detailed photograph at a time.


Not many folks share photographer Danae Wolfe’s perspective on insects and arachnids, primarily because she uses a reverse lens macro technique that enables her to count the tactile hairs on a jumping spider.


But the stories she tells through her breathtaking photos go far deeper than the deceptively durable exoskeletons of these invertebrates. Insects, she tells her audiences, display remarkable maternal instincts, extraordinary adaptability and a fight for survival that is critical to the very foundation upon which all existence is built.


“Invertebrates are in massive global decline, and they form a fundamental core of our human and natural systems,” Wolfe said. “Without invertebrates, our world as we know it would completely collapse.”


And yet, conservation efforts to safeguard the continuation of invertebrate species are about as common as honey bees in winter.


“We’ve always been innately connected to charismatic animals like lions and tigers,” she added. “We want to protect them and conserve them even if we’re thousands of miles from them. Bugs are everywhere around us, and most of us have grown to hate them.”


Wolfe’s interest in photography began developing around age 12. Her mother had purchased a new camera, and Wolfe used it to take photos of flowers that would eventually earn her best of show honors at the county fair. A lifelong passion was born. She was always drawn to close-up, macro botanical photography, and in college, she became keenly aware of the bugs that populated her plant subjects.


“From there, it snowballed,” she reflected. “I need to photograph bugs, and I need to tell their stories.”


It’s Wolfe’s dream that photography and digital storytelling can build a bridge between humans and invertebrates that spurs an emotional connection. Putting faces to these tiny creatures enables people to look them in the eyes for the first time.


“My biggest hope is that people will just be a little bit interested in looking at bugs differently,” she shared. “I want them to think about the role that the insect or spider plays in our broader world.”


Danae Wolfe works as an educational technology specialist for Ohio State University Extension, where she teaches faculty and staff how to engage audiences online. She previously served as an extension educator in Summit County, where she taught horticultural programs about backyard bugs and pollinators, and native gardening. She shares her photos and stories on her Facebook page (Danae Wolfe Macro Photography), her personal blog ( and through online content publishers PetaPixel and BoredPanda.


Want to know more? Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or by calling the CAPA Box Office at 614-469-0939.


On Friday, November 16, 2018, fourteen Columbus area residents will become part of the TEDxColumbus community when they present their talks for On the Edge.


Meet Rev. Joel Miller:

Love thy neighbor: A show of support, sympathy, dissent

by: Cheryl Forcina

America’s current immigration policies have forced many undocumented immigrants out of the country and away from their families, or to seek sanctuary in one of many communities and churches. One Columbus pastor continues to challenge the status quo, using his faith’s most basic teachings.


The Columbus Mennonite Church in the city’s Clintonville neighborhood sits on a leafy street block, bordered by tidy alleys and away from the bustling High Street intersection. You could say it looks peaceful. Even neighborly. Which makes sense for a church and faith born out of pacifist ideals.


So it’s no surprise when the Rev. Joel Miller explains his church’s stance on the government’s current hard-line immigration policy. “They say we need to obey the laws in place. But I point to a higher law: one of loving your neighbor,” Miller said. “This supersedes any national law and boundaries.”


It’s a resistance of sorts. And Miller’s Columbus Mennonite Church made its dissent publicly known last October when it became a sanctuary for Edith Espinal, a local immigrant facing deportation after having lived in Columbus for 20 years. Espinal still lives at the church, with her case ever evolving.


“Being in sanctuary with our congregation, (Espinal) is as protected as much as she can be,” Miller said.


It’s all thanks to Miller and his church’s game plan from the very beginning – to build public awareness around Espinal’s story.


“We were the first sanctuary in Ohio that went public. That was part of the strategy,” he said. “We wanted to build sympathy.”


What followed was an outpouring of grassroots support, with his congregation, local citizens and businesses stepping in and offering help.


It’s the kind of accomplishment fitting for Miller, who grew up among a small Bellefontaine, Ohio, congregation with 50 members – just the right size for a kid like him to be as involved and hands-on as he wanted to be. After graduating from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Indiana, he found his way to Cincinnati where he pastored for seven years before making Columbus home.


Along the way, Miller enjoyed looking inward and experiencing his faith on a more personal level. Only years later, he admitted, did he realize “it all connected – my faith, spirituality, social justice, everything,” he said.


And it all culminated last year when Espinal came into Miller’s life. “Someone like Edith is definitely living on the edge,” he said. “So I want to keep her story front and center, and elevate her voice. It’s one of many.”


The Rev. Joel Miller is pastor at Columbus Mennonite Church. He grew up on a farm in Bellefontaine, Ohio, but has lived as far away as Cairo, Egypt, before finding his way to Columbus, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. Learn more about Miller and his church at Get updates on Edith Espinal’s fight against deportation on Facebook’s Solidarity with Edith Espinal page.


Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or by calling the CAPA Box Office at 614-469-0939.


Events, TEDxColumbus


The videos are live! The Videos are live! thanks to everyone for your patience as we worked to get them edited and posted. We hope that you will enjoy each talk and find a reason to share them over and over.

To view the 2017 playlist, CLICK HERE.

As we close out this year of TEDxColumbus TRUST 2017, we wanted to share a special note of thanks to everyone who helped make this year possible. It really is a massive team effort both from our sponsors to our year-round volunteers, day-of volunteers and a few key staff that make it all come together.

Our generous Sponsors

The Columbus Foundation
The Kridler Family Fund at the Columbus Foundation
The Ohio State University
Cardinal Health
The Kramer-Celeste Fund at the Columbus Foundation
Kaufman Development
Crane Group

In Kind Sponsors

Crimson Cup

Kind Bars
Rhythm Foods

From the curatorial team:

Kyei Amato
Rich Bowers
Meagan Buren
Acacia Duncan
Sandra Lopez
Judi Stillwell
David Staley

Our photographers:

Kimberly Cole
Ken Falk

Our registration team:

Allyson Kuentz
Kim Goldsmith
Rosie Wayton

Speaker Coaches

Meagan Buren
Acacia Duncan

Make up artist

MelRo Potter

Hair Stylists

And our loyal independent production partners and those from from Markeys, WOSU and CAPA:

Jen Kerns
Tanya Irelan
John Prosek
Donna Raque
Jane Lewis
Chris Skinner
Derek Werner
Kirby Roberts

We continue to respond to the interest from our community – from our speakers to our participants. This event and these ideas are thanks to a city who craves ideas, creates ideas, and wants to share them with the world. This event is all of ours.

With gratitude,

Ruth and Nancy



Events, TEDxColumbus


Dear TEDxColumbus Community:  

For those of you participating on Friday, below is your attendee guide! (If you aren’t coming, we will miss you and hope you watch the talks when they are posted online in December!)

Please make sure to share this with your guests.

1. Registration: When you arrive  – with ticket in hand, or collected at will-call – either give a volunteer your name and email or give them a business card. This is because we are required by TED to send you a very (very) quick survey after the event. If we don’t have your info, we can’t send the survey. No survey, no feedback. No feedback, we can’t improve!

2. Parking: We recommend the Columbus Commons lot.  Or take COTA, which drops off (#2) right in front of the Riffe Center.

3. Program:  We will begin at 1pm sharp. Please plan to arrive at the theatre by 12:30pm at the latest.
If you arrive late, you will be seated once the current speaker / performer has finished. 

4. Food: You will have lots of options for heavy snacks (healthy and not-so) that could make up a lunch or dinner. For those who enjoy coffee, Crimson Cup will be back with their terrific coffee station; for those who want a post-event cocktail, the bar will be open from 530-630pm for Happy Hour with more food. Reusable water bottles with copious amounts of cold water dispensers will be on hand all day.

5. Dress: As always, be comfortable and casual!

6. Social : Please use #tedxcbus in any posts on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter- before or after the event. We love the digital conversation but just not during the actual talks.

7. Tshirts: The official TEDx tshirt will be printed on demand in the lobby.

8. Did we miss anything?! Email us at

Can’t wait to see you all on Friday November 3rd! We know the speakers and presenters are even more excited. Come curious and ready to be provoked!

TEDxColumbus Organizing Team 




Events, TEDxColumbus


Dear TEDxColumbus Community:


We have two important announcements (announcements, announcements…!) on how high school students can attend and speak at TEDxColumbus: TRUST on November 3, 2017 at the Davidson Theatre at the Riffe Center.


First – Think “Field Trip.” 


At TEDxColumbus, we will repeat our main speaker program twice again this year, once in a morning session (8am-12pm) and again in the afternoon (1pm– 530pm). Attendees in the morning session may only be high schoolers attending with a classroom teacher from their school (limit 25 per school). Tickets will be free and students need to be transported together by their respective schools.


To apply for one of these “Field Trip” slots to bring students, teachers can fill out this form. We will accept groups on a first come first serve basis with an eye to including the broadest range of schools from across the area. We will also provide a discussion guide that draws on the program /speaker content for teachers to use before and after the event.


The afternoon session is as always, open to the public. Ticket sales will begin in mid-September through CAPA. Look for details to follow. Proceeds from the afternoon session will help underwrite the morning high school session.


Second – High Schoolers at Speakers!


Last year we had a whole session of high school speakers. This year, we will choose three to speak with our adult speakers during the morning session. They will each get coaching from our partners at TEDxOhioStateUniversity and an official TEDxColumbus video on YouTube. To apply to be a speaker for one of the High School speaker slots, please carefully follow the instructions inside this form. 


Lastly, we will announce our main speaker and performers in 2 weeks! As always, it will prove to be a provocative and memorable day, showcasing some of our area’s best talent and ideas.


Thanks to the continued support from our loyal partners at Resource/Ammirati, The Columbus Foundation, Cardinal Health, L Brands Foundation, The Ohio State University, Crane Group and The Kridler Family Foundation. Their underwriting assures us the ability to produce the highest quality event toward sharing our ideas as far as possible!


We look forward to sharing ideas with you on November 3rd!

TEDxColumbus Organizing Team


Click here to find a playlist of TEDxColumbus:RISK 2016 talks and performances.



Follow This, TEDxColumbus

kqib premiere

by Alessandra Wollner

When Gabrielle Burton decided to make a film about drag performance in Columbus, she wanted it to work like a painting by Chuck Close.

From afar, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens would look like a large-scale, photorealist portrait. But, come in a bit closer, and you begin see that the portrait isn’t at all what it appears. It’s actually a series of cells, multi-shaped and many-colored, that work together to create the effect of a single, unified image.

This, Burton thought, was the perfect metaphor for drag, an art form that blends and reinvents gender to surprise, delight, and challenge viewers who think they already know all about what they’re seeing.






Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (KQIB) dives, er, straight into the lively drag scene of Columbus, focusing specifically on two drag troupes—the Virginia West “family,” mostly drag queens, and The Royal Renegades, mostly drag kings. KQIB also shines the spot on the real lives and questions performers live offstage—expectations and (mis)understandings of biological sex and sexual orientation, parenting, and gender as a non-binary choice. The film also devotes a good chunk of time to the mechanics of drag. Without giving too much away, it involves reams of duct tape and Ziploc bags of clippings from your last haircut.




Burton estimates she attended around 30 drag shows while making the film. She took a camera to all of them. In KQIB, you’ll see scenes from rehearsals, backstage prep, and live performances intercut with interviews of a handful of Columbus’ most well-known drag performers, including Virginia and Nina West, in and out of drag, as well as co-director of The Royal Renegades, Becky.

Burton very intentionally crafted a film with no narrator. She wanted the performers and community members themselves to tell the story, to give a sense not just of a the local drag community, but of drag’s greater significance.

“Imagine a stone dropped in a pond,” Burton said during our interview. “First, I wanted to answer the question What the heck is drag? Then, Well, what’s drag—and the LGBTQ world—like in Columbus? Then, I wanted to really blow audiences’ minds, to get them to understand the biggest picture, the outermost ring: sex, sexuality, and gender are three totally different things, which leads to the final question What does drag make possible?

Burton at TEdxCbusMid-way through filming, Burton gave a TEDxColumbus talk titled “How Drag Made Me a Better Parent.” Burton’s main point was about the way making this film helped her see and understand the nuance and complexities of gender identity and performance in a whole new dimension. It was perfect, but also dizzying, for the mother of two young children just beginning to come to their own dawning consciousness about gender and sex.

KQIB is the hard-won fruit of five years’ labor. But, if you’re going to give yourself a five-year project, you might as well give yourself a subject that’s fascinating, entertaining, and really, really fun, all of which drag has in spades…and sequins and, on occasion, copious amounts of fake chest hair.

Burton’s production company Five Sisters Productions, which she co-owns with her four real-life sisters, is about to launch KQIB, and the good news is that it’s coming to a few theaters near you, and also some far.

The Cleveland International Film Festival will screen KQIB April 2 at 9:15 pm & April 3 at 11:15 am, followed by a special forum based on the film. Burton and her sisters will be in attendance, as well as most of the stars of KQIB and performers from all the groups filmed. More info here

KQIB will also premiere in Columbus June 7th at 7pm at The Wexner Center, with a celebratory reception co-sponsored by Stonewall Columbus at 6 pm.

GCBdir-KQIB Marcie shoot - 13Other screenings include…

Buffalo, NY:  at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (BNFF) Sunday, April 17 at 2 pm with a Q&A with Burton, who is a Buffalo native.

The South
:  in the SouthArts Film Circuit April 20-28 to 6 cities for an audience engagement screening tour. Burton and her co-producer Ursula Burton will be at each screening for audience discussion after the film:

April 20, 2016: Williams Gymnasium, Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA
April 21, 2016: Harrington-Peachtree Academic Ctr, Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC
April 24, 2016: Colleen O. Williams Theater, Winder Cultural Arts Center, Winder, GA
April 25, 2016: DP Culp University Center, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
April 26, 2016: University Center Theater, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
April 28, 2016: Jule Collins Smith Museum, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Austin:  at the Austin Drag Fest Friday April 29th 
    3:30-4:30 – Nina West (one of the main cast of KQIB) Dragcast Live, then: 
    5:00 – 7pm – Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens with Q&A following with Nina West & Burton

Oakland:  at St. Mary’s College of CA May 4 at 3 pm with Q&A following with Burton


VirginiaWest profile


Alessandra Wollner is a third year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at OSU.


Follow This, TEDxColumbus

Still form annotated video illustrating allignments, the way in which Forsythe designs relationships in space and time Credit: Synchronous Objects Project, The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company

by Rashmi Nemade

Have you ever wondered what your thoughts look like? I mean, really look like—to your eyes. I don’t mean how neural connections look in the brain, but what it would look like if your thoughts were translated into something physical. What shapes, sizes, formats, colors and patterns would your thoughts take? And could anyone else make sense of it?

This type of inquiry can be called physical thinking. It’s what the intercultural and interdisciplinary team of Norah Zuniga Shaw, William Forsythe and Maria Palazzi has been working on for almost a decade. In 2009, this team published a screen-based work titled Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced. Using dance as a starting point for visualizing thought, the team data-mined the choreography of William Forsythe. The deep dive unearthed alignments, cues and themes that are repeated and fragmented and recombined.

norah at tedxZuniga Shaw shared this work in her 2009 TEDxColumbus talk “Animating Choreography.” As she explains: “It’s like an ecosystem. There are patterns and agency: there are animals and plants that abide by a day-night cycle and those that do the opposite; there are elements of the ecosystem that are synchronized by seasons and temperatures, while other parts are unaffected; and there is simultaneous complexity in parts of this ecosystem as well. They all coexist together and, yet, separately. It’s a complex structure.”

In Forsythe’s dance, One Flat Thing, reproduced, there are multiple performers dancing around and interacting with multiple tables (the flat thing, reproduced several times) and each other. To capture data of the dance, the team used video of a performance and interviews with the dancers. The interviews capture data about cues given and received during the dance and the flow of interactions that result. The video shows visual patterns, for instance an arc created by arms and then by a head, then again by feet, emerges as one motion at different times in different directions by different bodies. The similarity is the arc, the complexity brought by changing times, body parts, directions, etc. This teasing out of a complex structure is how a simple aesthetically pleasing movement becomes a complex ecosystem that can be examined for deeper understanding of relationships and visual counterpoint.


Norah SynObj2


The results—the ecosystem of this dance, so to speak—are shown in a fluid, discovery-based website which can be explored by both novice and expert. The data are showcased as alignment annotations, cue visualization, concept threads, movement densities, 3D alignment forms, motion volumes and performance architectures, among other visualizations. Artworks in their own right, they are absolutely beautiful and captivating interpretations of the dance. Essentially, the data flows from dance to data to visual objects also in motion.

In 2014, Zuniga Shaw published a companion book Synchronous Objects: Degrees of Unison. In it, she writes, “This just happens to be dance, it could be mathematics, it could be architecture, it could be the movement of pedestrians on the city streets or the patterns in the tree canopies above our heads. What else might this dance look like? A storm of themes, a cacophony of difference, a polyphony of relationships, systems of organization, degrees of unison, patterns emerging and receding, isometries, fleeting forms of agreement.”

Since its 2009 launch at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Synchronous Objects project has toured as a hybrid exhibition/workshop/lecture event to numerous sites in Europe and Asia with producing support from the Goethe Institute.

Norah VergeReduxDemo_BebeNotes-1024x576

Norah Redux_interactiveLemons-1024x576


Zuniga Shaw is currently collaborating with Maria Palazzi and choreographers Bebe Miller and Thomas Hauert on a project called Motion Bank: TWO. The two choreographers work separately, yet both use improvisation and engage directly with the nature of human consciousness and how the dancers work with their habits, tendencies, impulses and memories in action. In isolating their working strategies, Zuniga Shaw and her collaborators bring the viewer into a direct encounter with the dancing mind and the thinking body—hence, the term “physical thinking.”

So, it’s possible to do more than just wonder what your thoughts look like. Simply develop a physical manifestation of whatever you’re thinking of and then tease out the visual counterpoint. Simple…or complicated. Either way, it’s an extraordinary exercise that can take you into much deeper thinking and awareness.

Rashmi Nemade is principal at BioMedText, Inc.

Photo credits for Synchronous Objects and Motion Bank:Two: The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company



Events, TEDxColumbus

Central Ohio TEDx community small

Did you know that there are 10 active TEDx events in our community? Eight are represented in the above picture from our first-ever Central Ohio curatorial team gathering. We are thrilled to support these and other TED-like initiatives in town, helping to connect more people to each other and to ideas worth spreading. For the first-time, we’re publishing (and updating) a comprehensive list of all the TEDx events around Ohio, particularly those in Central Ohio.

Note that we are quickly approaching the TED conference viewing events. And, we’ve set the date for TEDxColumbus 2016 for Friday, November 4th, so mark your calendars! Nominations for speakers will open in April. We’ll keep everyone updated through our digital channels.

The 2016 guide to TEDx events in Ohio

Monday, February 15, 2016
TED Opening Session
TED is broadcasting live its opening conference session to cinemas across the country. In Columbus, you can take in this event at one of 6 theaters: Easton, Lennox, Polaris,Crosswoods, Stoneridge, Pickerington or Georgesville. Find details and purchase tickets ($12.50) here.   


Wednesday, February 17, 2016
1pm – 5pm
Official local viewing site for several speaker sessions of of the 2016 TED Conference at Westminister Thurber, 645 Neil  Avenue (Learning Center). No registration required. Come as you are!


Saturday, February 27, 2016
1pm – 5pm
This limited seating, first-time event at the McConnell Arts Center is organized by Worthington Educators.


Saturday, March 5, 2016
11am – 6pm
$15 – $30
This 5th Annual event driven by a large team of OSU students attracts nearly 1,500 attendees to Mershon Auditorium / Wexner Center and features faculty, staff, students and alums of OSU as speakers and performers.


April 2, 2016
$25/ Adults; $15/Students
A third-year event organized by students at New Albany High School at the McCoy Center for the Arts.


Thursday, May 19, 2016
(Elementary with Cols City Schools)
Columbus Museum of Art
Curriculum based event for 3rd-6th graders in CCS


Friday, May 20, 2016
Details TBA


Thursday, June 16, 2016
Details TBA


Wednesday, June 22, 2016
4 – 8pm
Whitehall City Schools / City of Whitehall


(anticipated, not yet announced)


(anticipated, not yet announced )


Fall (TBA)
Email if you’d like to be notified of the event details.


November 4, 2016
Capitol Theatre, Riffe Center
Tickets will go on sale in September. Speaker nominations open in April.