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In 2009 TED began allowing third parties to organize TED-like events around the globe in order to give communities the TED experience, to stimulate conversation amongst neighbors, and highlight issues and implement solutions on a local level. TEDxPeachtree is just one example of a successful TEDx event. In the past four years, TEDxPeachtree has grown by leaps and bounds. There is a lot of excitement around its return on November 8, 2013 at the Buckhead Theater.

icon_small_bill_melinda_gates_foundation_logoOne of the most important and successful collaborations to come out of the TEDx movement is TEDxChange. Organized in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it focuses on issues of education and global health and development. The TEDxChange team works with TEDx organizers around the world to spark conversations on topics such as child and maternal health, polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS and agricultural development. This includes an annual event organized by Melinda Gates and broadcast across the TEDx community.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to solving the world’s toughest problems – from extreme poverty and poor health in the developing world to the failures of America’s education system – by taking strategic risks on innovative ideas that more traditional funding sources cannot afford to make. It is in this vein that the TEDxChange events were founded. By partnering with TEDx and highlighting “Ideas Worth Spreading” on the topics of education, global health and global development, the Foundation is able to reach more people across the globe than ever before. This year, provided a live stream of TEDxChange in eight languages, including Mandarin, Korean, and Arabic. In order to encourage meaningful conversations about global health and development year round, the Foundation has offered ways to bring TEDxChange to standard TEDx events. This includes opening up past TEDxChange talks to be played at standard events and the opportunity for local TEDx organizers to program one session of their TEDx event around speakers who work in the areas of global health and development. This symbiotic relationship allows local TEDx events to highlight these important issues while promoting solutions on a local level.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made $26.1 billion in grant payments since its inception and supports grantees in all 50 states and over 100 countries. Its partnership with TEDx expands the scope of its reach and allows it to raise awareness of its mission to a broad audience of similar-minded folks.


TEDxChange 2013 took place on April 3 in Seattle, WA, and was organized around the theme of “Positive Disruption.” This year’s event put forth the idea that although disruption is typically thought of as a negative, it can be a catalyst for positive change. It can force us to take a new perspective on an age-old problem, thereby sparking conversation and motivating policy leaders to approach problems from a fresh angle and, perhaps, allowing us to arrive at a new solution.

This Q&A with Melinda Gates gives excellent insight into this year’s conference; The courage to believe change is possible.

There is a natural symbiosis between the goals of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the founding principles of the TED organization embodied in their mantra “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Both organizations challenge us to look for solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems with creativity and to use the techniques, tools and methods available to us in innovative ways. Both TED and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pursue scientific answers to life’s challenges, be they nutrition, education, information and technology, poverty and disease. They strive to raise awareness and find creative solutions to these problems. With our support these lofty goals can become a reality.

Lauren Lynn is a new arrival to Atlanta. She moved from Charleston, SC where she worked in arts management. Lauren lives in Lake Claire and enjoys exploring the neighborhood parks with her dog and children.

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Ayoka Chenzira: Cinema Pioneer Masters the Art of Multitasking

Many of Ayoka Chenzira’s films today are in permanent collections including MOMA and some have been translated into French and Japanese.

Historically, American parents discourage their children from being a jack of all trades for fear of becoming a master of none, says award winning and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira (Ayo).

Yet, success in today’s world favors the ace of plenty. Fortunately, Ayo is all that and more: she’s a pioneer of African-American cinema, one of the first African Americans to teach film production in higher education, and the first African American to earn a PhD in Digital Media Arts from Georgia Tech. On November 2 at Buckhead Theatre, she will appear on the TEDxPeachtree stage as an interactive digital media artist and transmedia storyteller.

“Transmedia storytelling is a way of telling stories by using different media platforms,” says Ayo, whose body of work includes more than 25 fiction, documentary, animation and experimental films. “Parts of the story can be on a specific website while other parts can be accessed through a smartphone or on FaceBook, Instagram, etc. If you look around most people are doing more than one thing. They’re on phone while in conversation with someone else and also looking at some other screen. This is not the linear way of being in the world for which most people have been trained.”

Ayo’s background seems to have positioned her well for engaging the modern audience and embracing convergence. Citing her mother as a tremendous and supportive influence, Ayo initially majored in film because the field allowed pursuance of her own multiple curiosities.

“As a young person I was interested in many disciplines: film, music, dance, and anthropology,” she says. “I also grew up in a community that has been redefined as Colored, Negro, Black, African-American, but not always human, and some of that experience shapes my work.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Ayo went to New York City where she studied film at NYU and education at Columbia’s Teacher College. While teaching at the City College of New York, she figuratively entered “The Academy.” There, in addition to writing, producing and directing one of the first 35-mm films by an African American woman, Alma’s Rainbow, Ayo cofounded City College’s graduate program and served as its Chair of Media and Communication Arts.

In 2001 Ayo came to Atlanta when Spelman College invited her to serve as the first William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor in the Arts. Inspired by the large number of students on Spelman’s campus making mini films with software such as iMovie, Ayo created the award winning Digital Moving Image Salon (DMIS) program. In addition to research DMIS students construct documentary films.

Like a multi-armed deity, Ayo stays true to the metaphor of mastering multiplicity. Along with her work at Spelman and lecturing around the world on topics such as the history of American cinema and cinema technology, she also has many prestigious film projects wrapping up and currently in the works. One is the Pearl Cleage Film Project for production of Cleage’s novel Babylon Sisters. Another is the production of HER. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and due out on computers everywhere in 2013, the speculative fiction work is part film and part interactive game.

Ayo also advocates. Her interactive art installation Ordinary On Any Given Day features Skype interviews of prolific activists and changemakers around the world sharing what they do to improve social justice.

Although Ayo holds no specific loyalty to any one region, she says she very much likes being in Atlanta. Recently, she toured Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). “GPB is one of the best kept secrets in Atlanta,” says Ayo. “It’s a phenomenal resource as far as equipment and what they can offer producers.”

Post written by Rachel Bailey/ Contributor

Rachel Bailey is a multi-media writer, producer and president of Penwan Communication Inc. She lives in and loves Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood.

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April is National Autism Awareness Month: Dr. Ami Klin Puts Autism in Context on the TEDx Stage

The earlier an autistic child is diagnosed and treated, the better.

That’s the message Dr. Ami Klin, the first chief of autism and related disorders at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, sent last year to the TEDxPeachtree stage with his inspiring talk entitled “Autism: Disruptions in early human social adaptation mechanisms.” In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, we’re drawn to this presentation.

In just 20 minutes, he shattered perceptions and misconceptions of this disorder, creating a stream of Twitter dialogue around autism.

“We always think about autism as something that happens later in life,” said Dr. Klin. “It doesn’t. It begins at the beginning of life.” One in 88 children are born with the disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Klin said honing skills in early stages will impact children with autism. Early detection means early treatment. “The brain determines who we are going to be, but the brain also becomes who we are.”

In his talk, he said early-targeted social engagement with autistic children can be an investment in their future productivity and development. Isolation is not the most nurturing environment for individuals with autism.

He brought the condition into context: “We learn a great deal by sharing experiences,” he said as he told the story about a young girl who doesn’t see a clear division between inanimate objects and people. “Her path of learning is divergent, moment by moment, as she’s isolating herself further and further.”

“The idea is not to cure autism,” he said. “What we want is to make sure that those individuals with autism can be free from those devastating consequences that come with [the disorder: the profound intellectual disabilities, the lack of language and the profound isolation.”

“We feel that individuals with autism in fact have a very special perspective on the world — and we need diversity,” he noted.

Dr. Klin spoke of his methodology and research at the Marcus Autism Center. “If we measure things that are evolutionary, highly conserved and developmentally very early emerging…. We could push the detection to those early months of life.”

Do you know a powerful speaker who can present on an interesting topic? We are now accepting nominations for TEDxPeachtree 2012.

Written by Maria StephensContributor

Maria Stephens is a marketing professional at a leading integrated marketing and PR firm working in energy and oil/gas – She’s merged her interests in science and communications into a career in B2B consulting. Maria is an award-winning photographer and writer, and a nationally recognized print & web designer. She was born in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and speaks fluent Russian.

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