On April 1, presenters at TEDxUofM inspired the community to innovate, participate, and affect change through ideas and action. This year’s speakers included a Syrian lawyer, environmental activist, graphic designer, business professor, a political science professor, and a massage therapist.
Following are highlights from just some of the galvanizing talks.
KHAWLA WAKKAF is a Syrian attorney who moved to the U.S. in 2012. She is now working in southeastern Michigan on humanitarian efforts to alleviate suffering in her community.
Her Talk: Wakkaf described the war-torn lives of her friends and relatives still living in Syria and the emotional cost on the children there, citing that 7.5 million Syrian children have now been affected by the war.
TED Quote: “To change reality, we have to acknowledge its existence. We need to awaken the moral obligation in us and help those in need.”
SAM MCMULLEN is a junior at U-M and a passionate environmentalist. For the past eight months, he has been living a zero-waste lifestyle in an attempt to produce no trash for a year.
His Talk: McMullen discussed how choosing a life without trash was not without its challenges but has allowed him to see how dependent our lifestyles are on waste. He encouraged everyone in the audience to try and live trash free the following day.
TED Quote: “Ninety-five percent of the environmental impact happens before you even open a product because of the resources that have already gone into it.”
WAYNE BAKER was the first director of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. His teaching and research as a professor focuses on positive organizational scholarship, values, and social networks.
His Talk: Baker described how, through the help of strangers, his family was saved on a sailing trip that went awry. That experience led him to explore the concept of “pay it forward” and to develop a “reciprocity ring” app, which will help people achieve their goals through generosity.
TED Quote: “In a reciprocity ring, giving is not the problem. The problem is asking for what we need. ”
JANE ANDERSON is a professional, multidisciplined massage therapist for chronic pain relief and medically complex clients.
Her Talk: Anderson discussed the importance of touch, explaining that within six to eight weeks of development, an embryo has already established its sense of touch, the most important of all the senses for survival.
TED Quote: “A 20-second hug lowers your blood pressure, as does cuddling your pet.”
MIA CINELLI, MFA’14, is an assistant professor of art and design and the director of the Women’s Commission Art Gallery at Defiance College in Ohio.
Her Talk: Cinelli’s talk revolved around her love of typography and the creative journey that led her to developing a new font called “Fayette.”
TED Quote: “Fonts have their own personalities and can affect the reader. They can be childlike, honest, bold, and strong.”
LYNN RIVERS teaches political science at U-M and Washtenaw Community College after serving eight years as a member of he U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first member of the House to discuss her bipolar disorder publicly.
Her Talk: Rivers shared what it’s like to transition from feeling depressed to manic and the “sweet spot” in between. She also discussed how medication has helped her become whole again.
TED Quote: “I hope my story helps you or leads you to evaluate what you know about people who are mentally ill.”