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TedxCoMo uses the City2.0 to inspire residents

Saturday, October 13, 2012 | 6:05 p.m. CDT; updated 4:19 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 14, 2012

COLUMBIA — After three hours of presentations, people stayed to discuss community innovation with each other, a result of TEDxCoMo's event, The City2.0.

City2.0 is an event where citizens are encouraged to share their own ideas and reflect on the state of their city. Columbia is one of 75 TEDx communities internationally that participated in the City2.0 event on Saturday. The event was sponsored by TED — an acronym for technology, entertainment and design — but "TEDx" events are independently and locally organized.

"With TEDxCoMo, we bring people together who may not have known each other before," Keith Politte, an organizer of the event, said. "That's exciting. The sum is greater than its parts."

The speakers were asked to give the "talk of their lives in 18 minutes," Cale Sears, curator of TEDxCoMo, said. Each speaker had a different presentation under one of three themes: Adaptive Reuse and Creativity, Energy and Transportation, and Public Wellness and Education. 

The event drew about 50 to 60 people, including Joyce Gelina, an administrative assistant at the office of cultural affairs.

"I like listening to people talk about ways to fix problems instead of complaining about them," Gelina said.

The event had nine speakers. They were:

Greg Orloff is an artist, sculptor and self-professed scavenger who is "addicted to trash." Orloff looks for items that have been forgotten to create engaging, innovative art.

Orloff is the creator of Lumen, the 7-foot-tall, 300-pound robot at Ragtag Cinema. As part of a fundraising effort to upgrade Ragtag's digital projection equipment, a silent auction for Lumen with a goal of raising $20,000 was organized.

Ted Han is a software developer for DocumentCloud at Investigative Reporters and Editors. Han emphasized better collaboration within communities through open source software.

"How can we, regardless of our goal, engage others to make the world a better place?" Han asked. 

Carrie Gartner is the executive director of Columbia's downtown community improvement district. Gartner used Columbia's North Village Arts District as an example of an area in a city created by "everyone and no one." For example, as businesses and studios began to open in the area, others sprang up around them.

Darwin Hindman is the former mayor of Columbia and an advocate of pedestrian-based transportation. Hindman explained that the city needs to provide better alternatives to owning and driving cars, particularly to students. At the event, he proposed a community bike-sharing program similar to MU's new bike-share program. Hindman's program would use automated bike racks and would span across the city.

"Columbia is admired and looked to as a leader in alternative and nonmotorized transportation," Hindman said.

Ben Datema works as the student sustainability coordinator office in the MU department of student life. Datema shared the benefits of biking: environmentally sound, financially efficient, socially just and healthy. He encouraged motorists and cyclists to know the city's traffic laws and abide by them.

Datema said he believes that biking can help to encourage change "one pedal stroke at a time" in Columbia.

Tom O'Connor is a consulting professional engineer who specializes in water and energy systems and issues as well as a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune. O'Connor discussed a need for an "electric revolution," citing solar panels and rechargeable batteries as examples of changes to be made.

"We need to take the power and the money back," O'Connor said.

Amanda Barnes is a health educator and fitness instructor for the city. Barnes said a healthy lifestyle involves avoiding the four S's: sugar, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and stress. Instead of these, she encouraged the community to engage in the good S's: sensitivity, support, strategy, solutions and success through healthy eating and exercise.

Peter Stiepleman is the assistant superintendent for elementary education for the Columbia Public Schools. Stiepleman talked about the transition from traditional public schools to small autonomous schools and mentioned the benefits of STEM and art integrated schools for students.

Eryca Neville is the director of alternative education for Columbia Public Schools and the principal of Douglass High School. Neville talked about bridging the gap within communities through innovation and engagement.

"There's no us and them. We gotta have a we," Neville said.

Before the event, TEDxCoMo asked for action pitches submissions from community members with great ideas. The three top submissions were presented at the event.

  • Tyten Teegarden collaborated with other developers to create a website and app that helps users find and share community events. The app, named Tyten.com, launched Saturday, Oct. 13. 
  • Andrew McHugh and Matthew Murrie are the creators behind the "What If...?" conference, where people are encouraged to discuss "what if" questions. McHugh is a student and Murrie is an English professor both at Westminster College. "'What if...?' is a question that spans all communities."
  • Jake Fowler proposed an internship website to connect businesses with students. Fowler said internships often help lead to full-time positions.

TEDxCoMo will hold a larger event on April 6 at the Missouri Theatre. Details about the event have yet to be disclosed. In the meantime, Sears and Politte said TEDxCoMo will host smaller, local salons to keep the conversation going between events. 

"Columbia has a deep talent in a diverse and interesting pocket," Politte said. "It's an exciting thing to stir the pot."


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