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TEDxPeachtree 2013: It’s a wrap!

On November 8, 2013, TEDxPeachtree successfully catalyzed a capacity crowd of more than 500 attendees at the historic Buckhead Theatre with 17 informative talks categorized into four sessions.

Catalyze, the 2013 conference theme, sought to capture and share the ingenuity of the human spirit and shine a light on works that could have a positive impact on the human condition.

Here are the highlights:

Session 1: CITIES

During CITIES, four TEDxPeachtree speakers took the stage to share ideas for shaping the way we think about our urban environment.

In a society of materialistic excess, social entrepreneur, author and founder of and Plywood People Jeff Shinabarger challenged us all to lead a life of excessive generosity without desiring anything in return. He emphasized that “excessive generosity” isn’t only about money.

Architect and urban designer David Green evangelized for the importance of street plans since streets are the building blocks of a community. He reminded us we are more likely to walk on streets if they’re well-designed and that, in turn, makes people feel more connected.

Appearing on stage with his bike and helmet, journalist Jim Hackler garnered laughs and let his enthusiasm for the benefits of cycling speak for itself. He enlightened us with the facts that more Americans are thinking of alternative forms of transportation, and 4 million more bikes were sold than cars in 2012.

Urban agriculturalist Rashid Nuri pushed us to think about where our food is grown and urged us to explore our locally grown options, which create healthier, higher quality food, more jobs and a diverse community.


The session on CREATIVITY also included four speakers – each an accomplished artist in his or her own right, and each with a message about how art can change the world.

Internationally renowned artist Rossin took to the stage surrounded by large portraits of Nelson Mandela, Jackie Kennedy and Morgan Freeman that looked more like photographs than paintings. Using his artistic philosophy, he revealed the surprising, touching and inspirational connection between artistic creation and the art of living.

Against a backdrop of commissioned sculptures, beautiful conceptual pieces and reimagined art history masterpieces, Lego brick artist and recovering lawyer Nathan Sawaya enlightened us on the ways art can be used to combat limits imposed by everyday life and how he shakes the boundaries of traditional art forms block by block.

Georgia Tech Professor Mark Riedl further shattered our views of artistic tradition with his presentation on how intelligent computational systems can help reduce the fear of learning  and engage future artists and storytellers by providing accessible, interactive ways of starting out in the world of creativity.

Grammy nominee Michelle Malone closed us out with an incredible musical performance that left the audience silent, reflective and longing for more.


The session titled CLASSROOMS challenged and inspired us to think about the connectivity between our roles as responsible citizens, leaders, professionals, creators and, ultimately, catalysts.

Entrepreneur Marshall Seese, Jr. startled attendees out of their collective post lunch daze with his demo of technology that allows anyone to mix beats like a professional DJ. As founder and CEO of Mowgli and creator of MashupDJ, he also had a message – everyone is an artist, and it’s our responsibility to enable creativity in ourselves and others.

Aurora Robson’s breathtaking sculptures made from plastic trash shifted our perception of waste. Both Aurora and Marshall turn traditional process on its head – that becoming a DJ can inspire you to learn a traditional instrument or that instead of making an art project that will eventually be thrown away we can let the trash become the art and keep a little bit of waste out of landfills.

Daphne Greenberg, Wanda Hopkins-McClure and George Yu all have the desire and motivation to dig beneath the surface and examine our world.

Daphne Greenberg illuminated the problem of adult illiteracy and the difficulty not only in solving it but in recognizing it. Adult sufferers of illiteracy have excellent coping strategies that allow them to tell time, order from a menu and even run a company. By alerting us to the problem, she opened our eyes to a solution.

Wanda Hopkins-McClure’s dedication to collaboration between educators, business leaders and parents, as well as her willingness to take risks and fail, will lead our children to be innovative entrepreneurs with the ability to co-create their futures.

George Yu’s insatiable curiosity led him to develop the NODE, wireless sensors to measure our environment and report back through our smartphones. An immediate understanding of our surroundings has limitless possibilities and is sure to awaken the inquisitive child in all of us.

Session 4: CROWDS

Session 4: CROWDS rounded out the day with a series of talks designed to awaken our collective sense of what it means to be a good global citizen.

Dr. Amy Baxter brought our attention to what better and proper pain management can do to reduce and eliminate needle phobia in children and adults. Healthcare providers and the public can overcome this barrier with a better understanding of pain.

Wellspring Living founder Mary Frances Bowley’s emotionally charged talked brought to light the serious issue of sex trafficking in the U.S. According to Bowley, 100 teenage girls at an average age of 14 are sexually exploited every night in Atlanta alone. Bowley believes these girls and women deserve a second chance and can build a better future with our help.

Lisa Earle McLeod, author of The Triangle of Truth, introduced the idea that comprise isn’t a solution but, in fact, a problem using an analogy built around John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These founding fathers weren’t always united and didn’t always compromise; instead they fought to arrive at the bigger picture. There often are truths in opposing views, and the best solutions stem from this dichotomy.

Neale Martin wrapped up TEDxPeachtree 2013 with Why TED Talks Don’t Change Your Life Much. Although many thought Martin may burst the bubble of inspiring, sometimes emotional talks and fireworks on our cerebellum, he instead explained how to make a change in one’s life by training the unconscious mind. At the end of the day, both literally and proverbially, it takes more than just inspiration to make a true behavioral change.

TEDxPeachtree 2013 would not have been complete without the immersive on-site experiences supplied through the generosity of Thrive Coffee, Frozen Pints, Fresh Harvest, Dashboard Co-Op, Jaxx Seating, Business RadioX and SocialBox.

If you missed this year’s TEDxPeachtree or wish to relive the experience, please check back with us for the videos on all the speakers, which will be made available soon!

Posted in General, Speakers, TEDx2 Comments

TEDxPeachtree 2013 in Poetry

Rachel Pendergrass - Poet

Rachel Pendergrass – Poet

What does catalyze mean to you?

Rachel Pendergrass summed it up in poetry at TEDxPeachtree 2013, and then read it on stage!

To catalyze the world we must create
Be it art or jobs or tools to help us learn.
Don’t think it’s not your job to change our fate;
If you want to change the world – go. It’s your turn.

Find what inspires you. Make that your tool.
Be it bottles, bikes, bees, beats or biospheres.
You’ll find that with creation there’s no rules
except that it will take blood, sweat and tears.

You may at first be overwhelmed by choice-
of what and where and how and why to change.
Start small; the key is to limit your voice.
Once you have confidence, expand your range.

So when you leave don’t let today pass by.
Its up to you to keep the day alive!

Read what attendees had to say about this year’s sold out event, and see captured moments on TEDxPeachtree 2013 Storify.

peksuanyewwylandPek Suan Yew-Wyland was inspired by TEDxPeachtree 2013, and proud to be part of the team!

Posted in General, Speakers, TEDx, Volunteers0 Comments

This Is It! TEDxPeachtree Is Set to Catalyze on Nov 8

Friends, the big day is almost here! Tomorrow, the fifth annual TEDxPeachtree will kick off at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, and the anticipation is at a fever pitch. Seventeen outstanding speakers and artists will share through their ideas and experiences of what it means to “Catalyze“, the theme of this year’s event. They will be joined by a sold-out crowd of 500 ignited, curious and passionate attendees, and hundreds more joining via livestream from as far as Europe and Asia.

True to TED‘s mission to showcase “ideas worth spreading“, TEDxPeachtree has developed a reputation to inspire and surprise, and this year is no exception. Attendees can look forward to a carefully curated day of thought-provoking talks and genre-defying artistic performances with ample breaks for making connections with the speakers, patrons and fellow attendees. And there’s more: past attendees also know that the TEDxPeachtree organizers are a playful bunch, and this year’s program holds promise of an unexpected element or two that will surprise and delight.

On Friday, Buckhead Theatre will be transformed into a total experiential space in which attendees will feast on ideas, tasty bites and rich conversations that promise to build upon this year’s theme and imbue a sense of serendipitous connections. TEDxPeachtree is often described as a daylong “brain spa“, and for good reasons: this is a day in which attendees unplug from their daily routines to purposely dedicate time to be inspired and rejuvenated.

Having been a past attendee, as well as serving on this year’s planning committee, I have the advantage of seeing TEDxPeachtree in the audience seat and from behind the curtains. I am particularly blown away by the superb quality of speakers, the commitment of the TEDxPeachtree leadership, and the sponsors and patrons who choose to be involved with TEDxPeachtree. I loved my experience as an attendee last year, and I am willing to stake a claim that this year, many attendees will also come away inspired to catalyze a change somewhere in their lives.

Tickets to the event are now all gone, but you can still watch the event through free livestream, or get live updates by following @tedxpeachtree or joining the global online conversation using #TEDxPT and #TEDxPTcatalyze. For those in Atlanta, join us at the official after-party at Czar Ice Bar, open to the public at 4:30 pm.

For those are attending tomorrow, here are some tips for a good TEDxPeachtree experience:

1. Clear out your schedule for the day. With speakers like LEGO brick artist Nathan Sawaya, inventor Amy Baxter and guardian Mary Frances Bowley, you won’t regret it.

2. Dress Code: You must wear clothes! Business or creative casual.

3. Registration opens at 9 AM and we will have coffee AND tea available. No tickets needed but please have your ID ready. Your name and those of your guest(s) must be on our list. Lunch will also be provided.

4. Spoken Program: The program begins at 9:45 AM. Doors close promptly and late arrivals will not be admitted until the 2nd speaker block at 11 AM.

5. Parking: Please download this parking map for a better parking experience and to avoid getting towed.

6. WIFI: Wifi will be available. Live tweeting, Instagramming, Vining, etc. welcome. Please refrain from accessing YouTube and similar video sites at the event.

7. Video: Please do not video record speakers inside the auditorium. Video interviews are welcome in the lobby area.

See you tomorrow!

Wendy Ho is a sales marketing manager for CNN, and enjoys giving time to various projects in Atlanta, including volunteering as assistant Marketing Communications Director for TEDxPeachtree 2013. 

Posted in General, Speakers, TEDx0 Comments

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