This year was the fourth annual TEDx event in Charlotte. Four years ago, I attended the original Charlotte event as a result of the reputation and momentum Ted Talks had at the time. Ted Talks has been around for 25 years, but their popularity experienced a resurgence due to the latest advancements in technology, so I was interested in seeing what the buzz was all about. The original event blew me away; it delivered a level of inspiration and enthusiasm that I hadn’t experienced in a long time, so when I heard of this years event I quickly signed up because I wanted to be re-acquainted with same level of inspiration and enthusiasm I experienced in the past. TEDx Charlotte 2013 didn’t disappoint, the energy was truly intelligently contagious and a remarkable reminder of how many generous and extraordinary leaders we have right here in our own backyard!
Before I got there this year, I had an eager anticipation to hear Cassie Parsons, Dale Mullinnex, and J.D. Lewis speak. I’ve been familiar with initiatives that Cassie has undertaken for our community to eat locally for years, Harvest Moon Grille is walking distance from where I live. I’ve also been connected to the extraordinary work done through the Urban Ministry Center that Dale oversees through my service on the Friends of Fourth Ward Board. The work that J.D. and his two sons had done with the Twelve in Twelve foundation was new to me, but just as enticing.
Despite my initial predictions, when it was all said and done, I had a hard time picking any one favorite from the line-up. The presentations by the three speakers I mentioned were equally inspiring, yet completely unique in the ways that they were going about achieving community improvements. One minute you have Cassie explaining to everyone how not knowing where your food comes from is a criminal offense, the next you have Dale educating the audience on how one woman’s art mural at a homeless shelter exponentially grew into our country’s first international homeless soccer team. And those were not to be outdone by J.D. and his two sons who traveled to twelve countries in twelve months to volunteer and help local communities, reminding us that “a small idea can have unlimited power”.
Despite the uniqueness of each speaker, there was an echoing theme throughout all their messages: sometimes all that is required to make something amazing is start with a plan, it doesn’t have to be big, just sincere. In one way or another each speaker communicated the fact that they never envisioned their idea would have this big of an impact.
What was most surprising to me was beyond the power of the speakers and performances, there was an invigorating connection among those attending. During our lunch break, we were encouraged to eat at tables where we didn’t know anyone. In the span of 45 minutes, a sandwich, a cookie, and one mini diet Coca-Cola I met 10 fascinating people from 20-something years old to 60-something years old who were all there for different reasons and whom had traveled from all over the region to attend the event. By the end of lunch I walked away with contact information for three people who I genuinely look forward to connecting with, which is a lot for a one hour lunch with strangers.
The energy, inspirational speakers and opportunity for true connection will keep me coming back to TEDx Charlotte, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t had the chance to attend a TEDx event to take a few minutes to visit TedX Charlotte so you can be sure you don’t miss the next one. I promise you will not be disappointed, in fact, I would bet you will walk away feeling inspired and overwhelmingly unlimited.