The Superpower of Comic-Con – Natalie Kaczorowski at TEDxSanDiego 2016

If you’ve ever been in downtown San Diego in mid July, chances are you’ve walked alongside Spiderman, Vulcans, Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen.

If you haven’t, then chances are you don’t understand the full power of the spectacle known as Comic-Con. The annual event, which fills the halls of the San Diego Convention Center and spills into the streets and surrounding hotels, bars and restaurants of the Gaslamp Quarter, sells out each year in under an hour.

“Tickets to Comic-Con aren’t really bought so much as you win the privilege of paying for a ticket,” said Natalie Kaczorowski during TEDxSanDiego on Oct. 22 at Copley Symphony Hall.

The three-day event (with a bonus preview night) is so much more than just comic books, Hollywood celebrities, and nerds walking around in costume (which is more affectionately known as Cosplay).

“Comic-Con is really an invitation to celebrate self-expression,” said Kaczorowski, a regular attendee of the event and executive producer at “Tonight in San Diego,” a local late night variety talk show about all things San Diego.

While attending Comic-Con Kaczorowski would participate in Cosplay while interviewing attendees, but when the exhibit booths were taken down and the event left town, she found herself wearing nerdy t-shirts even off camera.

“That’s when who I was trying to be and who I was afraid of being finally came together. That’s when I realized ‘this is who I am supposed to be,’” Kaczorowski said.

The magic of Comic-Con for Kaczorowski is that it brings people together; connects them with their own tribe.

“No matter the fandom, fans may be strangers, but together they can define themselves as family,” she said. “Define yourself. That’s the superpower of Comic-Con.”

Natalie Kaczorowski on LinkedIn

Comic Connie on Facebook

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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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There’s Nothing More Personal Than Your Genome – Dawn Barry at TEDxSanDiego 2016

“Let’s not just wait for things to break, especially when those things can be the lives of the people we love,” concluded Dawn Barry at the end of her presentation during the TEDxSanDiego’s 2016 event on Oct. 22 at Copley Symphony Hall.

Barry, vice president, Applied Genomics at Illumina, was referring to the power of sequencing the human genome, which in simple terms she described as a code, or instructions for life – the entire collection of one’s DNA.

“Your genome holds the promise to help predict your health,” said Barry. “Your genome is an instruction manual for you, but it’s not your destiny.”

Certain factors such as lifestyle, environment and nutrition can play a role for or against your genome, but is there a way to do better than just react to such health issues as chemo therapy resistant cancer?

Recent technology developed in San Diego allows for entire genomes – once taking 13 years and $3 billion to complete for a single genome – to be sequenced in one day at a cost of about $1,000.

“There is no question that we have improved patient care and even saved lives based on genomics,” Barry said. “We know the technology works, but we don’t know enough yet for it to be applied preventatively, proactively.”

So what’s holding science back from getting ahead of disease?

Simply put, Barry stated the existing sample size is neither large enough, nor diverse enough to be able to be applied preventatively. By engaging the community, Barry said she believes this could help to put the parts and pieces together.

Dawn Barry on LinkedIn

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