Last Saturday marked the third annual TEDxUMKC. The event took place at the JC Nichols auditorium and lobby inside Liberty Memorial, and proved to be as well orchestrated as its parent conference, TEDxKC.
More than 200 students and community members filled up the theatre’s red velvet seats. The event lasted four hours. During that time seven speakers took the stage, two world-renowned TED Talks fitting the “Ditching Dogma” theme played and a thirty-minute intermission gave the guests a chance to snack.
Tickets were free for students, and for non-students admission cost a mere $5. The price or pricelessness of the event included tons of food. Attendees grabbed Pickleman’s croissant sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and Roasterie coffee at intermission.
After the event, everyone piled a new spread of chips, pita, hummus, and warm pretzels onto plates. The guests then dined in the J.C. Nichols’ lobby surrounded by UMKC art and TED themed displays.
The cherry on top of the sundae? The second you showed your ticket at the front booth, a kind volunteer asked for your t-shirt size. When they emerged from a backroom, you were handed a drawstring backpack stocked with TEDxUMKC specially designed water bottle, soft red t-shirt and spiral notebook—pen included. Quite the takeaway for a zero dollar admittance.
The line-up of speakers was also impressive. Right before intermission, Mark Brodwin wowed many with his detailed presentation about what’s happening in the universe. Mostly and recently, scientists have studied whether the universe is expanding, for how long, and at what rate. Using a supernova as a GPS, they’ve discovered that the universe accelerates at an alarming rate. In 200 billion years, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to see other galaxies through the Hubble telescope. The universe will appear blackened, save for a few stars in our galaxy. A scary and interesting notion for sci-fi fans.
Iram Fatima, first-year pre-medicine student, thought Brodwin hit it big with science aficionados. As she said, “I got introduced to many topics, and this made me more curious to learn and research about them. Learning how the universe will look in the future if it keeps on expanding, makes me want to know more and do my own research.”
Following the intermission, Mike Anderson, host of the “Not So Late Show,” animated the audience with a riveting talk about sexual fantasies and partner intimacy. Laughter erupted quite frequently. How can one not laugh when they see a picture of a woman holding a stop sign facing a man alongside her in bed? Though humor worked effectively in Anderson’s lighter topic, most speakers had a more serious tone.
The last speaker, Alex Gorosh, a film and documentary worker, spoke about a documentary-like ad created for Gizmogul that would “spread a story instead of just buying a billboard.” The company recycles technology in a more globally conscious manner, so it doesn’t end up in cities like Abgobloshie, Guana. Once there, 12 to 13 year olds scavenge technology graveyards for anything useful. Not only is the pay terrible (most make 2-3 dollars a day) but also the plastic burned emits dangerous fumes, wreaking havoc on the brain and nervous system of the workers. The story told left quite an impression. As we all learned, the Abgobloshie people have on average a 25-year life expectancy.
At the end of the evening, Marika Nalluri, fifth year pre-medicine student and TEDxUMKC founder, walked on stage to thank the supporters, volunteers, and most importantly the sponsors. Bonnie Postlethwaite, Dean of Libraries, got special recognition, as Marika Nalluri called her “a true mentor to the student organizers.” Amongst the 15 marked chairs reserved for contributors, only Postlethwaite occupied a seat.
“I think the students did a great job getting diverse speakers on a range of diverse topics that still fit the theme,” Postlethwaite said. “But more the point is what the audience thinks.”