Here it is, my recap of TEDxDetroit. As I mentioned in a previous post I wasn’t sure what to expect at TEDxDetroit, except to be wowed by some great ideas worth spreading, by some of metro Detroit’s thought leaders. When I left Livonia, after crashing at my brother’s house, I was planning on grabbing a coffee and a light breakfast. Since I was leaving a little late, I figured I would just grab something downtown…I really needed the coffee. Anyhow the drive downtown was not bad, even though traffic was heavy – it’s funny, even after living in South Bend for almost 13 years, I’m still able to flip a switch when it’s time for “city driver” to kick in. After circling the DIA once looking for parking, I located the visitor parking lot across the street.
Registration was quick and painless, but found myself still looking for coffee to wake up. The day started with musical entertainment by Dixon’s Violin, which was very nice as I mingled with other TEDx-ers and checked out some of the fantastic art and of course the famous Diego Rivera mural. I did find a side room with some Seurat and Monet paintings, awesome. Sent a pic of the Claude Monet painting “Gladioli” to my wife – which she loved.
Met a great mix of people prior to the start of the first presenter and finally found that cup of coffee in the DIA cafe downstairs. The conference opened with a dreamscape poem “An Awesome Beginning”, very nice. The first presenter was Jeff DeGraff, “Dean of Innovation” from the University of Michigan. Besides having big energy, Jeff offered some interesting insights on innovating in a down economy, for example in 2009 US companies shorted R&D by 14%, while Asian companies raised R&D spending by 12%, on average. The best time to innovate, as Jeff says, is in a down economy.
One of my preferred presenters of the morning sessions was Karl Gude from MSU School of Journalism. Karl had some funny perspectives on Infographics (he used to work at Newsweek), the best of which included the drawing, the Internet I think, where most people have the response, “what is that, I must be the dumbest fuck on earth” – very funny stuff. The random spirograph drawings labeled just as randomly, also hilarious, but overall Karl Gude introduced some very thought provoking ideas on how to best present data in a visual manner.
Perhaps my favorite part of the pre-lunch sessions was the spoken word poetry performance by Jessica Care Moore, also the founder of Moore Black Press. Her performance “Homage to Detroit” was gritty, gutsy and soulful…it painted a picture of a blue collar, irrespressible city. She totally killed it!
One of the highlights of the afternoon was brought by Steve Kahn – Director Math Corps at Wayne State University. This was a truly inspiring and touching presentation, by someone making a difference. As Mr. Kahn stated, “Every child has greatness in them, whether you see it or not.” The Math Corp believes that through hard work and dedication this greatness can be realized.
There were so many other great sessions, presentations and performances at TEDxDetroit, that the best thing to do is to catch the videos otherwise this post would be even longer. I have to admit, in the afternoon I started to fade fast, as I was fighting a fever, sinus infection and bad cough – so I was feeling pretty crappy. So of course, I retreated as any respectable introvert would do, and unfortunately left a half hour early, since I did have a 3.5 hour drive home. Of course I pretty much ran myself down and ended up sick for the 4-5 days after the conference. Oh joy!
Finally, one of the things I liked the most about attending TEDxDetroit was the chance to meet some very cool and passionate peeps. Throughout the day I met a great mix of individuals from the Metro Detroit area doing their own thing to make a difference in the Motor City and the World, including artists, entrepreneurs, mobile app developers, educators, and innovators. Overall, it was worth the 3.5 hour trip to attend such an inspiring event. Lots of great ideas worth spreading.