A word about Performances…

You might be wondering why there would be performances at a TEDx event or TEDx Fort Wayne. It is mainly because there is nothing here done without a reason or to make a person think. The fact that the talent on display today was stellar – and local – does not hurt either. The arts don’t just unify a community at all levels, but they bring us together and make us thing and appreciate the spaces and times when we don’t experience them.

In the morning session, attendees were treated to Fernando Tarango who sung “Ave Maria” well enough to make you stop engaging in small talk or whatever electronic distraction you had in your hand just take in the music. This afternoon before the last talks occurred, dance.Kontemporary performed. Please note that this writer knows and understands as much about modern dance as he does quantum mechanics. The fact that I could watch and appreciate the grace, talent and story these dancers brought to the fore is a testament to their talent and passion far beyond any words I could conjure to describe it. Post talks, the Wickersham Brothers are performing.

So why? Because this event, just as life, is an experience. Few of us can think of an experience, or a life, where some facet of the arts is not involved. Part of igniting change is also being self-aware enough to know what real talents are held by our neighbors and lie within the friendly confines of our hometown, a place that is so comfortable that we often take it and the people who make this place hometown, for granted.

So we listened, and watched and slowed down enough to enjoy the performances. Even if you could not be here, this is the best take away: Cut yourself a break. Stop look and listen to what’s around you and the people bringing you art, be it visual, musical, dance or theatre. You’ll be more than surprised. You’ll be amazed. And probably, happy too.

Jones explained that among our strongest assets are prominent features of our geography: The three rivers we have running through our town.

Jones related how the rivers and water have been the pivotal in our national history and especially in our region for hundreds of years, from the days of the first native Americans and showed how even today, we are on the cusp of enabling the power of these features.

He did not gloss over the issue of water quality here. He reiterated simple points of conservation that everyone, from homeowners to governments need to be able to enact on a daily basis to stabilize and increase water quality. But he goes further telling how we are already at a point to re-create our relationships with the rivers. Money ought not to be an object: “We already have a river economy,” a point he backs up using slides.

“90% of humanity lives near or within a reasonable distance to water,” Jones observes. Here,m we have three rivers. It begs the question: Who Owns The Rivers? We do, he states.

Jones goes on to cite the “Power of Place.” We work hard here, we play hard and we want it now. Rivers give rise to another idea: That by engaging with our environment, we can reduce stress and alleviate many of the other problems that we tend to create for ourselves. His challenge: Engage your environment to enhance the quality of life here, not lessen it. One of the ways we can all do that is to curate our natural resources, and playgrounds (the rivers) for recreation, or to re(create) our rivers.

Pinaud explores the power of the word No and what it means, as why it is so hard to say No to ourselves.

We say no to others all the time. But do we know how to do this to ourselves? There are dozens of examples.

You need to learn to say no to ourselves. Because of the drive for success, our need for instant satisfaction that we find it hard to say no to ourselves. It is scary because society tells us we are not supposed to say no to ourselves.

Imagine a piece of chocolate in front of you right now: How many would take it if you were on a diet? How many would take it even if you don’t like it because you don’t know how to say no to yourselves?

First step: to admit that we don’t know how to say no to ourselves.

Second step: to identify situations where we need to say no.

Third step: Tell yourself no. You will need to do this again and again and again. It is hard, but you will need to do this.

Augusto told of how he was able to build a boundary using a browser to allow him to focus on his work as developer. This evolved to creating a list of things he needs to say no to, including lists of things he does not need, or things he does not need to do. (Augusto’s Do Not Do List). He tells how this allowed him to lose weight and quit smoking – and embrace the change and the realization that these changes are hard, stay difficult, but to commit to the idea that these changes are worth it.

Everyone in this room has the same amount of time; it is what we are doing with this time that makes the difference. We have to make the decision to say no to enable these changes.

Connie gives the audience permission to grin or groan at slides/doodles they are about to see.

Premise of talk: “Wonderful stuff + More Wonderful stuff equals….?”

“Yes…and…” is an additive, inclusive process. A way to make sure good stuff doesn’t get lost.

“Why I am here?” she asks. “This is tough for me, being a writer.”

Connie is motivated to be here despite the probability she might fumble her lines. She is overcoming this fear, motivated by it because I am afraid that Fort Wayne might miss some of the greatest opportunties it has. I want the city I live in to be cool fabulous,  and rock. Why?

“Because we deserve it.”


We run the risk of not getting there.  We might blow it by:

-Taking sides

By seeing the future as a zero-sum gain. This way of thinking is a trap.

Example: “I love Kelly Lynch’s idea of Headwaters Junction. So much, that I am very protective of it against all other ideas. Even the idea of Eric Kuhn’s idea of a string of “garden rooms” extending down the length of the St. Mary’s River. I love that idea, but then I think, what about Headwaters Junction?”

It brings her to the conclusion that sometimes being open, inclusive and making our community greater and allowing growth and innovation can be scary. That sometimes we have to embrace all ideas without feeling that the ones we love are going to be sacrificed.

Taking sides adds to the premise that Fort Wayne is smaller and meaner and lesser. That is not what we are.

Connie explains by example all the arts, architectural, civic and public projects, many public/private collaborations as well as collaboration happening between formerly separate units of government that are under way. Collaborations going on are happening that are making things possible that never were before.

These present a unified voice for the entire region, not a competitive situation by smaller geographic entities.

What is the wealth we have in common? This wealth is not just infrastructure and community, but Fort Wayne has actual wealth–the proceeds of the City Light sale to I&M. This is seed money that we can used to grow ideas beyond the $75 million amount sitting in coffers.

Talk our leaders up. Share your ideas. Don’t take sides.

Dr. Bill Argus comes to stage and asks a simple question:

“Would you rather have a woman doctor or a man doctor?” He answers that research shows that most people would want a woman doctor. “As a man, I have to ask, “What’s up with that?”"

We might feel that women might be better able to fill a void. What is that void?

Researching this, he found that younger generations, among those, his own kids, don’t really see gender as a barrier or an issue to what role a person plays in society. Dr. Argus’s Mom could not to weigh in on this issue. Most telliong was her comment that women of her generation had to “give up our femininity” to get what women today are able to achieve.

What does it mean to give up femininity?

Is there a discussion about gender difference we need to have that political correctness continually shoves under the rug?

Using the analogy of kids playing baseball, he illuatrates how boys react to a teammates failure differently than girls do. Boys typically save rules and sacrifice feelings;  Girls typically sacrifice the rules to save someone’s feelings

He posits that both sides have their positives, but leaning one way or the other too far is dangerous. We all need a second chance.

Masculine voices speak to rugged invidualism. Feminine voices favors compassion, intuition, emotion. Being isolated on one side or the other causes one to have distorted values. He suggests that the pathology of  many mental illnesses may be the result of these unhealthy distortions.

He asks: Can vulnerability be healthy? Answer: Yes, if your self image/identity is healthy to begin with. That’s the foundation. Embracing both sides, in balance.

His observation: Medicine is hyper-masculine. We have traded in connecting with patients for collecting data and treating from there based on data such as infection rates and check boxes on computerized forms.

Having it all is a masculine myth. Citing an Atlantic magazine article “Why Can’t Women Have It All?” he questions can anyone really have it all? Citing Eastern philosophical premise of duality, he states all of us need to embrace a whole being, not just one side or another.

Showing an image of a young t-ball player, he states that bringing up this generation to embrace both sides and gaining that balance can be a positive catalyst for change, now and in the future.

Donnie Manco speaks to an elemental part of problem solving in our area (Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.)

We are great at responding to emergencies. We need to be better at dealing with those things that cause emergencies in the first place.

Short term interventions have to be coupled with long-term involvement.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could develop a way where the average person could plug into these issues for just a few hours each week and make a difference?

The old top-down approach to problems is outmoded. Building a community is like building an organism, from the inside out. When a community circles of interest overlap  and bond, real change can happen.

Example: building a community begins with belief in the people you want to help.  Example: New Republic Skate, building a community from kids most people have written off as being untouchable/ unworkable. NRS worked within what they had and embraced skaters as agents of change.

Foster the indigenous leadership in the group you want to help. They are there. Give them the power and guide them.

Think of what we could accomplish if we chose to engage new communities in new relationships. It works.

Blogger’s Note: When the video for this is posted, watch it. Manco’s talk was good to the point I had a hard time keeping up with it.  Not uncommon for this event, but he hit so many salient points, it is worth watching.

For so many people to come together in this event today, on the surface, is not so remarkable. In the Fort Wayne region, we do this all the time. There are bake sales and walks and fundraisers and dozens of other events.

Here, the driving motivation is that ideas can start a fire. We are gathering for an intangible, vital reason: To share ideas. to spark change and growth.

“Ignite Growth” is the theme this year. Two small words. Two powerful words. We see all the time in nature how fire is part of the growth cycle, burning off old dead growth to allow new life to burst through and renew our world. It happens all the time.

To me, that so many people from so many backgrounds and across age groups  are coming together to share ideas, volunteer their time to make this sharing possible is remarkable.

Ideas like these don’t have an edifice or a specific point in time and space we can touch. But, given life and encouragement and the proper fuel and spark by the attendees, new life and growth is certain.

Note to readers: These posts are not going to pretend to be verbatim recording of what is being said and experienced. They are impressions being gathered as quickly and quietly as possible. If you have impressions of your own to add, please do. This even is about sharing ideas. Strike a spark of your own and join the process. That’s what  TED event is all about.

Note to speakers: If you would like me to clarify or post your notes  you have them for someone to read, just let Craig know and he’ll pass them on and we can make that happen too.

We’ve had mixed reactions to our “secret speaker” plan… and while we’ve got a record number of attendees, we realize some of you are not ready to take the “leap of faith”

Today’s inbox:

I would have gladly registered and attended this event had you given a list of speakers. I love TED talks online and use it in my classes all of the time. I don’t have $50 to spend on “surprise” speakers. This gave the impression that you do not know who is speaking yet either.


Thanks for your feedback TEDster,

I’m hoping you’ve not heard of most of our speakers – as we really hope to highlight new ideas and connect you to other TEDizens.  I realize it does require some faith in us, but we’ve had the speakers picked for quite some time.  We’ve even up’d our game from the previous two years – in addition to the application process; we hosted multiple live auditions for finalists, gave them access to professional communication coaching and will be gathering together this Friday for our technical rehearsal.

We did announce topics, you can see those here: http://tedxfortwayne.com/2013/04/11/and-the-talks-are/  (topics can also be found on the speaker page) – on the web, you can also see the speakers from the previous two years ( the playlists are in the margin of most pages of the website), as well as what others have said about events, things such as:

TEDxFortWayne was able to evoke emotion, develop inspiration, and challenge action to the level that I thought was only possible from TED Talks online. – Patrick

Lastly, having attended a full week of TED hosted events this year — I am confident that we’ve captured the spirit and crafted a fantastic experience (and will continue to close the gap between the TED and TEDx experience).

Take a leap of faith – I look forward to seeing you there,

Chief Curator & Local Founder, TEDxFortWayne

“Just got done giving the Keynote for the Distracted Driving Conference at the McMillen Center last evening. The executive director, who extended the invite, admitted she would not have probably taken the chance, but they ‘googled’ my name, found my TED talk, and that was what drove their decision.

The conference was a blast.

So, just more ways in which your efforts are impacting the community.

I thank you for that.”


by Lanah Hake, Emeritus Speaker 2011

As a former TEDxFortWayne Presenter and Attendee, there will be a LOT of information digested during TEDxFortWayne day. Why not take a moment of pause and reflection after such a full intellectual day to allow it to marinade before we disperse to our usual life? Providing a brief introduction to yoga for all levels with gentle experiential opportunity to explore how yoga can help us create a space for processing all of the info and clarifying how we might move it towards action…. or, heck, just decompress and move your body and breath after sitting all day.

All you really need are the clothes you’re in (that allow you to do gentle stretching) shoes & flip flops optional and a mat is a bonus!

Conference attendees can join us over the lunch break at the April 27th event – We’ll accommodate all we can, but the first 20 have a guaranteed spot!


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TEDxFortWayne on Flickr

What Others Have Said

It packed more punch than I was expecting. The quality of the speakers were better than I expected.


I really appreciate the opportunity to be involved. It was one of my best experiences as a speaker. Thank you.


These ideas are localized - I felt connected.


2012 Faculty Videos

2011 Faculty Videos