Riverside joined TED in its mission to promote local and global conversations by hosting Riverside’s first TEDx talk Oct. 16 at the Fox Performing Arts Center.
TEDx Riverside was organized by the City of Riverside with the theme of “Ovation for Innovation,” as an extension of its commitment to making Riverside a City of Arts and Innovation.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing ideas in the form of short talks and videos. TED talks, which are hosted both as TED seminars and TEDx independently organized events, are conferences planned by organizations across the globe. The purpose is to inspire local communities to engage important issues.
The Riverside event featured 20 speakers, from a Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonist to a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, and included everything from live singing and artistic performances to conversations about the creation of new atomic bonds. The list of speakers also included California Baptist University vocal instructor Sarah Horn, whose 2013 performance of “For Good” with Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl featured in the talk she gave about being ready for any opportunity presented to you.
Jennifer O’Farrell, California Baptist University alumna, spoke on the importance of being wise about how to approach human trafficking issues and how those issues require an especially sensitive hand in the case of minors.
“There is just this kind of crazy response to (human trafficking) issues when people hear about it, but the problem is actually very layered,” O’Farrell said. “I just hope that people learn that it’s just not as easy to solve as media paints it out to be, and that people might come about it as a more complicated topic rather than thinking that they’re just going to start a home for girls and make it better.”
O’Farrell, who leads classes for Leadership Riverside and was chosen by the organization to speak at the TEDx talk, saw the impact her fellow speakers had on the audience and recognized the power of the event as a catalyst for motivating people and inspiring every individual.
“I’ve gone from laughing to crying to thinking that maybe I should have stuck with maths and sciences in high school over the course of the day,” O’Farrell said. “I’ve just been seeing those really simple ways to make big impacts in our community through hearing people’s stories of these pivotal points in their lives just thinking, ‘I’m changing the full direction of what I’m doing, and I am going to go.’”
Kermit Alexander, former NFL defensive back, spoke on the importance of forgiveness. He also noted the power of TEDx as a means to inspire people to action, particularly when it comes to making time to help those people who cannot help themselves.
“I just spoke to a teacher, who, when she finally got through, said to me, ‘Hey, you gave me the inspiration to go talk to my students about how important it is to pay attention in school,’” Alexander said. “I hope that people begin to pay attention to those people who need help and will volunteer to help people who are having difficulties. Through that spreading help throughout the world, you let people who have lost hope know that there is hope and inspire them to think about it.”
TEDx Riverside offered 500 free tickets to high school students in the Riverside area in the hope that those students would be inspired to become the next generation of innovators. Tickets were also offered to universities in the area to encourage the intentional sharing of ideas in the community in Riverside’s younger communities, according to their website.
In the spirit of TEDx and making the most of one’s potential, the main takeaway from the event was one of purpose and intentionality, no matter the topic or circumstance.
“I think if we can hone in and think about that in our life journeys, asking, ‘What is my idea, my mission, my purpose?’ — no pun intended with CBU,” O’Farrell said. “I think we’re going to feel fulfilled, and we’re going to see great things happen as a people. Those are our ideas worth spreading.”