Magical, Mystical, Mysterious Clemencies – Justin Brooks at TEDxSanDiego 2016

We see it each year at Thanksgiving time. A small crowd on The White House lawn, family members of the President gathered around while the star of the show, a turkey, is granted a pardon from becoming the day’s meal from the President himself.

With presidential clemency powers, it is within the president’s rights to save a bird (or two) each year, but more importantly, this power grants the President the right to pardon wrongfully imprisoned people.

This power has been exercised numerous times throughout history for not only full release from federal prison, but also to reduce sentences.

Along with the President, governors are provided the same power at the state level. This is significant because, as Justin Brooks, director and co-founder of the California Innocence Project, said, the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world – most of which are incarcerated in state prisons. Additionally, California is the state with the most people in prison.

“To get a case opened in California is an incredible task,” Brooks said during his talk at TEDxSanDiego. “To un-ring that bell to get a court to say ‘we’re going to take a second look at this case’ … it’s a really difficult process.

To catch the attention of California Governor Jerry Brown, and in turn his clemency powers, Brooks and his team identified 12 compelling cases from all cross sections of the state’s communities to take to Brown as a petition for clemency.

But just sending a petition wasn’t enough to get his petition. So Brooks, and two lawyers from his office, set out to walk the petitions all 712 miles from San Diego to the state capitol in Sacramento and hand deliver them to the governor’s office.

As the title of his TEDxSanDiego presentation alludes to, clemencies can be magical, mystical and mysterious, especially when you’re wondering what became of the 12 case petitions that were walked straight to the governor’s office.

Justin Brooks Profile

Justin Brooks on Twitter

California Innocence Project

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Making Peace with the Portrait – Kelly Mellos at TEDxSanDiego 2016

What is it about the human face that is so engaging and powerful?

You often hear that someone is the face of a movement, or the face of change. But what does that really mean? Does simply looking someone in the face, really taking a moment to study that person’s face – at the surface and beyond – have the power to bring about peace?

Artist Kelly Mellos, who left her life in the corporate business world to pursue a career in portraiture, toyed with this concept when she brought together a group of Palestinian and Israeli students and asked them to sit face-to-face and draw portraits of each other.

For Mellos, painting brings about a presence. When she runs her pencil or paintbrush over a face, she “softens into feelings of lucidity and deep reverence within the light of (her) subject.” Could the same feelings be stirred up in those who have been taught to be enemies?

“I thought there might be a possibility of transforming helplessness into hope,” she said. In a portrait workshop group through a peace program called Hands of Peace, Mellos got to test out her theory among teens who rarely get to meet and get to know one another.

The resulting workshop was an intriguing look into the power of humanity and the human face.

Kelly Mellos Website

Hands of Peace

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How Dive Bars Can Change Your Life – Ellen Goodwin at TEDxSanDiego 2016

“Most people think that the only thing that you can learn in a dive bar is that the more stickers on the wall, means the more surly the regular clientele is going to be. But this is where I think you are wrong,” said Ellen Goodwin to start her talk at TEDxSanDiego 2016.

And when it comes to knowing about dive bars, Goodwin, who by trade is the CEO and procrastination expert. Back in 2010 she and a neighbor started a “dive bar of the month” club, and have since visited more than 60 in the San Diego area. In the process she discovered some interesting truths about human nature that we could all adopt as life lessons.

According to Goodwin, dive bars are teaming with life lessons. Among the 10.5 life lessons she has learned:

1. Be kind to everyone.
2. You’re never to old to make new friends.
3. The camera never lies.

And for the rest, well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Ellen Goodwin Website

Ellen Goodwin on Twitter

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