Re:Think | Re:Imagine | Re:Create

If ever there were a time when the observations and insight of the TED Talk family of presenters were needed by a public in search of answers and assistance, this was unmistakably one of them.

The challenge of providing programming for which a hunkered-down society in isolation was thirsting for content, was met head on by TEDxSanDiego, a group cast entirely from volunteers willing to lend the collective benefit of their expertise gathered, and ideas began to take shape: a virtual event, with unprecedented scope in the TEDxSanDiego world. The event spanned four evenings in August, providing a forum for an amazing panel of presenters and entertainers.

From Monday, August 10, through Thursday, August 13, everyone with the desire to participate was able to hear one speaker each night deliver a presentation relevant to the prevailing social climate. Each presentation was preceded by a musical interlude and followed by a question/answer session with the questions provided exclusively by the viewers.

A $20 ticket covered all four nights, and, recognizing the financial constraints that have been common during this time of economic uncertainty, organizers were sure to provide complimentary admission to anyone needing it. “These issues are too important,” explained TEDxSanDiego Organizer Jack Abbott, “to allow financial considerations to become a barrier to participation for anyone desiring to join us.”

In the end, nearly 1,000 participants from 16 countries spanning the globe joined this unique and rewarding event. The response was overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive. Abbott credits the efforts of his volunteer staff for the ultimate success of the event. “Events such as this are simply not possible without the involvement of our volunteers. Their willingness to invest their time and energy and considerable talents is absolutely critical to our work. It’s what allows us to provide such high quality programming to our community. It’s what made this event such a great success.”

Two members of that group, Magali Ambrosi and Alexandra Steinhaus, a student and alumna, respectively, of the Kroc School’s MA in Social Innovation (MASI) program at the University of San Diego, recently contributed an article on the USD News Center website detailing their experiences and impressions of their work on the event and the messages they gleaned from the presenters.

Talk and performances from the event are now live:

Dr.Edith Eva Eger – The Journey of Grieving, Feeling and Healing

Rhonda Magee – What’s Love Got to Do With This? And Rage? Grief and Despair?

Gregory Shepard – Thriving Despite Autism, Dyslexia, Processing Disorders and Poverty

Elizabeth White – We All Have Bricks We Can Use To Build or Destroy

Gill Sotu & Lee Coulter – Don’t Look Away Anymore

Lee Coulter – Soulful Music for Healing and Humanity

Us Can Do It – Video by Gill Sotu

Q&A With Creator Gill Sotu  

Q:  How long have you been creating spoken word poetry? How did you break into the genre?

A: I have been a writer pretty much all of my life. But the spoken word, in general, I have been doing for close to twenty years, ever since I got out of the Navy.

Q:  Tell us a little bit about what inspired Us CAN Do it.

A: I started the poem and what I was going to say as honestly as I could.  “A part of me was scared to write this…” TEDxSanDiego asked me to speak on something that is affecting the entire world and I really felt the pressure to speak honestly and powerfully on the subject. What does one say to a world that is temporarily unraveling before our very eyes?  My answer is the response I always give when I feel I am in a crisis…How can I bless someone else so I am not so worried about my problems?  When I do that, the things that weighed me down magically begin to lift.

Q:  Walk us through the creative process when you’re putting together a piece like this.

A: I took in all of the input from my collaborators.  What did they want this poem to feel like?  What is the important thing we want people to know…things like that.   Then you just sit with it for a while and let whatever comes out come out.  Not to get too spiritual, but at that moment something magical happens and you let it flow WITHOUT JUDGMENT.  That is the important part.  Anything that comes out can be fixed in the editing process.  Then Jack introduced me to two amazing performers, Mandi and Jamie, we got together, and again, I just felt where the piece needed to go musically.  The final piece of the puzzle was bringing on Enjet Media to film and add their vision, and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to lend us their space.  The timing of the way everything came about was quite serendipitous.  If anything in the process happened a day later, we would most likely not have been able to shoot the video.

Q:  What do you hope audiences extract from experiencing your work?

A:  The feeling that they are not just observers to this pandemic, that we are all in this together.  That we all have a role to play. And if that role is not apparent, it is up to each and every one of us to make one up for the betterment of all.

Q:  Tell us about the #UsCANDoIt challenge!  How can people keep the conversation going?

A:  This #UsCANDoIt challenge is to find and nominate someone who you know is stepping up and going above and beyond for other people during this crisis.  We want to feature and celebrate them through TEDxSanDiego.  Our hope is that acts of kindness beget more acts of kindness. We are looking for short songs, poems, raps, prose, or really just a heartfelt video of you talking and sharing who you are nominating, what they are doing and what that means to you.  It is only together that “us CAN do it!”

IDEAS TO ACTION – Spring 2020

Planning for this energizing event has started. We will be announcing our speakers in early 2020. What we need is help from the community now! Please express your interest on our volunteer form if you’re interested in joining us. If your company is interested in partnering with us, let us know.

We’re building an amazing team that we hope will keep TEDxSanDiego building community and bursting with the power of ideas. We can’t wait to share more, but we have lots to do as we finalize details, build our team and partnerships.

Join us! This is where San Diego comes together as a community to have a positive impact on the world.

Many of this year’s planning team were part of the founding team in 2010, which includes Jack Abbott, the founder of TEDxSanDiego. We feel a great deal of gratitude, privilege and responsibility to come back and not only organize 2020 and beyond, but to celebrate 10 years in San Diego. We are so grateful to Mark Lovett and Janelle Doll and their team for the years of hard work and the amazing successes year over year with their events and look forward to making 2020 the best yet.

Stay tuned for more information on 2020 activities in the months to come. Be a part of this amazing adventure.