Yesterday, the second annual TEDx Buffalo was held at the Montante Center at Canisius College. It was a day filled with good ideas and inspirational people. The theme of this year’s event was “The World in Our Backyard” – it started literally with amateur astronomer Alan Friedman’s incredible images of our solar system, taken from telescopes and cameras set up in his backyard. Kevin Gardner, the founder of Five Points Bakery, argued that change in the world starts by looking at yourself and making positive changes in your own life.
Dr. Jonathan Lawrence of Canisius College showed that Buffalo’s population is becoming more diverse, and that we have people and faiths from around the world right here, and he sends his students out to learn about and document others’ traditions. Tom McManus from Kegworks explained how Buffalo is uniquely positioned to be a leader in e-commerce – once set up to do that, a business is literally a global one. Fully 45% of the US population lives within the 2-day package shipment radius of Buffalo, and our proximity to Canada makes importation speedier than reliance on the larger domestic ports.
Matthew Walter from Oogie Games explained how a dramatic car crash caused him to utter a phrase – “where am I” – that everyone should ask themselves with respect to what they’re doing with their lives – if you don’t like the answer, take needed risks and change something. Executive Chef James Roberts extolled the virtues of mentorship and how it helps you to improve yourself, to help others, and to organically grow the best staff you could ask for. Our own Chris Smith talked about the July 2011 genesis of his Cash Mobs idea, which is a reverse Groupon that has spread literally throughout the world; a grassroots movement to help local businesses in a tough economy. Joy Kuebler talked about a “pop-up” playground that she helped organize on Buffalo’s East Side. Giving kids tools and materials and asking them to use their imagination to build something to play on, it was incredible to see the results.
Geoff “DeafGeoff” Herbert, a hearing-impaired DJ, explained how it’s more important to listen than to hear. Adrienne Bermingham explained how anyone – even the very young can help improve the environment around them through community mapping. Kate Holzemer mesmerized the audience with beautiful, haunting solo renditions of Bach pieces on the viola.
Interspersed with a selection of videos from the global TED conference and some local iterations, our local speakers were all though-provoking and inspirational in their own ways. They all helped cement the idea that Buffalo and WNY doesn’t exist in some vacuum, insulated from the rest of the world. Instead, even the smallest change, the simplest idea, can have a global and positive impact.