10 December 2011

TEDx San Juan: We're Not Alone

Oh yeah, I was wrong.

TEDx San Juan was a rousing success. As I tweeted: I'll eat some of My words, happily.

Let Me dismiss My off-targets first: I sill don't agree with hiding the speakers line-up until just before the event. Sharing of anything is enhanced by symmetry and symmetry means We have the same or as much of the same (information) as possible. I would have gone to TEDx San Juan no matter the line-up, and...

Given that over 1,000 people applied and only 100 were allowed (My second point) by TED guidelines (for a first event), then there would have been no problem filling up the event. Only 100 was a stipulation, not a whim: I would have liked to know that beforehand. So picking Me to attend was not a mistake (I don't know what criteria applied), but a a pondered decision that actually honors Me.

Now for the positives: TEDx San Juan is the first event I have ever attended locally that exceeded My expectations. My biggest Congratulations go to the organizing team: Ramphis Castro, Iván Ríos, Marcos Polanco, José Padilla, Arelys Rosado and Héctor Ramos. They did a magnificent job.

A special Congratulations goes to Marcos Polanco for coordinating the speakers. I understand the selection was made by a group, but Marcos had the direct responsibility for the line-up and the agenda and his choices in both regards were impeccable.

Another special shout-out goes to Jenial Friend Luis Herrero as his company was in charge of the video and livestreaming, which I understand was world-class.

The speakers deserve their own recognition, to wit:

Justo Méndez, Nuestra Escuela: Born from the tragic loss by auto accident of his daughter, Nuestra Escuela takes in troubled kids and gives them back their capacity to dream and reach that dream.

Fernando Lloveras described why he created an organization to rescue Puerto Rico's rapidly-diminishing land area, preserving it for Our future.

Jorge Rigau presented his two proposals, a Metropolitan Walking Paths project that could easily and economically provide San Juan with some 3,000 miles of "urban walking paths," rescuing little-used spaces and a project, already done once, to convert a 35-kilometer irrigation canals infrastructure into a passive recreation/tourism attraction.

Dr. Daniel Colón talked about the exponential impact and importance of basic research, so strongly-maligned now, in healthcare and broad-based public benefits.

Tara Rodríguez described her Department of Food company, linking organic farm products with urban and suburban deliveries of high-quality vegetables and fruits.

Jorge Gaskins spoke about microalgae and the enormous potential they have for both food and fuel. Key number: microalgae can produce over 10,600 gallons of biofuel per acre per year; no plant can produce more than 780 gallons per acre per year.

Noel Quiñones spoke about and showed excerpts of his documentary about a school in Maricao that after 9 years of failing the standardized department-wide tests, and facing closure if it failed again, dramatically rocketed its scores to pass the tests...in 60 days.

Lawrence La-Fountain spoke of "sexiles," Puerto Ricans who leave the Island or are marginalized because of their homosexuality and how they respond through artistic expression to that exclusion.

Andrea Pérez (daughter of My Friend Lovely Laura) spoke about her personal decision to truly give, consciously developing sustainable charitable work, based on her experiences in Sudan (yes, Sudan) and Haiti.

Giovanni Rodríguez reconnected with his Puerto Rican roots and described his path to becoming a (cheer)leader for social engagement, social media use that foments change amongst Latinos, the "original retweeters." (In joke...)

Mayra Santos, accomplished writer and teacher, told Us two powerful truths: We need to lose Our fear of literature (We don't read enough) in order to tell the world Our stories, for without Our stories, the world and Us are diminished from full potential.

Four videos were shown: Emiliano Salinas on the attitude change needed to properly face up to the horrendous crime wave in his native Mexico; the Khan Academy's re-framing of education; Joan Halifax on the powerful nature of compassion and a brief video with Joachim de Posada indicating that delayed gratification--not eating the marshmallow for 15 minutes (watch the video)--is an almsot 100% predictor of success.

Three artistic presentations, a TED conference requirement, had strong impact as well: Y No Había Luz, Andanza and Time Machine Squad.

For My money, every speaker was a huge hit. I was especially moved by Andrea Pérez, Noel Quiñones and Lawrence La-Fountain, intrigued by Fernando Lloveras, Jorge Rigau and Jorge Gaskins and I fell in love with Mayra Santos (who is a sex symbol and rightly so.)

I must give a special thanks to Dana Montenegro who served as an energetic, quirky and hugely engaging emcee. I can offer no greater praise than "I couldn't have done it better."

Suggestions? Tables so attendees can sit and share, better monitoring of time so We can start/finish and explore with each other during the event and some stronger form of "connecting," like maybe setting up the tables with names so that you end up sitting with a group of (hopefully) strangers that you can then engage with.

But these are minor quibbles, at best. TEDx San Juan was interesting, dynamic, moving and impressive. Three thoughts came together during the event:

1) I'm so used to events like these being "what could have been" that I have become too cynical about "what could be." I won't do that again.


2) I, and We, are not alone. There are plenty of My Brethren who not only want to make a difference, they actually are making a difference.


3) The next TEDx has already begun. And it will be even better than this one.


The Jenius Has Spoken.


[Update: 11 December 2011: Videos of the TEDx San Juan speakers are here.]

3 comments:

Héctor Ramos said...

Gil, thank you for your kind words and I'm really happy that the event exceeded your expectations. Not publishing the agenda ahead of time is something that I'm still not sure was the best approach. As the event date approached, we again considered publishing the agenda but eventually decided to stick to our original decision.

The team behind TEDxSanJuan will meet up soon for a debriefing and go over what worked and what we should do differently next year. I agree that we could be more open about the event - we were supposed to launch a blog months ago, but it just didn't happen. That fell under my responsibilities of marketing and getting the word out about TEDxSJ, so I'll take the blame for that.

That being said, I'm really happy with how the event turned out. I didn't get to listen to many of the speakers yesterday, as I was busy behind the scenes, but from all the chatter on Twitter I could see that many people were enjoying the talks. It made my day!

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Héctor, you and the rest of the TEDx San Juan group can bask in My admiration...

Until Monday.

TEDx San Juan 2012 will have even greater expectations, all well-deserved. So let Me offer a hand, first by saying you shouldn't blame yourself for not having a blog, but that I can do that and would love to.

In fact, it shouldn't be limited to Me. I can serve as Editor or Co-Editor or Contributor, but the blog has to happen.

Over at newly-launched PReNews, you'll be able to read the 11 articles I wrote about the speakers. The TEDx San Juan blog can feature that and much much more.

Your start is gaining momentum. Let's keep it going, okay? There's a lot of fun ahead!

Naperville Real Estate said...

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