Tedx 2016 | ‘Quality of Life’

From the front lines of gang violence to the ivory keys beneath Grisha Krivchenia’s fingers, this year’s TEDx event, themed “Quality of Life,” will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“‘Quality of Life’ is a multidisciplinary call to action to improve our collective experience,” said Megan Mulhall, TEDx San Juan co-organizer. “We have curated a diverse panel of amazing speakers; there is something here for everyone.”

The all-day workshop takes place Sept. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the San Juan Community Theatre. Tickets are available online, at tedxsanjuanisland.com for $85, which includes a catered lunch.

Attendees will hear talks from 13 influential people. The lineup includes several locals such as composer Grisha Krivchenia and IT project manager Michael Sanders, as well as international heros such as mediation and conflict resolution strategist Cobe Williams.

TED talks began about 30 years ago, according to tedxsanjuanisland.com, as four day workshops devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Since then, innovators like Jane Goodall and Bill Gates, have spoken at these bi-annual events. TED became so popular, that TEDx, local and individually organized events, began springing up across the country. According to Mulhall, there will be 2,000 TEDx events globally this year.

Cobe Williams

Cobe Williams’ life and work was chronicled in the documentary “The Interrupters.” Having once served time in prison for assault, Williams now travels around the world training “violence interrupters” in mediation and conflict resolution strategies for his nonprofit, Cure Violence. Using disease prevention methods to stop the spread of violence, according to their website, Cure Violence detects and interrupts conflicts. Often this means going into the front lines of gang territories.

“Violence interrupters are asked to go into the most dangerous neighborhoods, in the most dangerous cities in the U.S., at the most dangerous times, to get people to stop shooting each other. And they’re going in unarmed,” said Prof. Daniel Webster, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence Evaluator of Cure Violence program in Baltimore in a press release. “Yet, they go in, and they do it. And it works. It’s really changed my view about what’s possible.”

Grisha Krivchenia

Besides composing and performing, Krivchenia has worked with Syrian refugees, and works frequently with Lifesongs, an organization that hires professional artists to facilitate original work with nursing home residents and hospice patients.

With the refugees, Krivchenia created a song cycle, or a group of songs intended to be performed together.

The Refugee Cycle is about experiences of individual Syrians who escaped their war torn homeland. Krivchenia’s talk focuses on the lifelong human creative capacity, relating to his work with Lifesongs.

“In essence I help someone close to the end of their life craft a personal statement in musical form,” said Krivchenia of his work there.

The patients’ reactions to music are varied, he continued, depending on the person. Some become emotional, and cry at hearing the piano, according to Krivchenia, while others become animated and overcome with nostalgia. Through his talk, Krivchenia hopes to inspire people to find a novel and effective ways of connecting with the elders.

Anna Steffeney

Having seen the difference between having a child in Europe and in the U.S. first hand, Steffeney launched LeaveLogic, a Seattle company that works with companies on parental leave management. Financially, the U.S. model is more helpful, according to Steffeney. The starkest differences she noticed were an almost non-existent paternal leave in the U.S., and pressure to hide her own pregnancy for fear co-workers or her employers might penalize her.

“The concept of the ideal worker who never gets sick themself … does not exist. We need to erase the taboos of care-giving and leave from the workplace,” she said.

One thing Steffeny would like to see the government do to support working families is have mandated paid leave for both parents.

Washington state passed an important paid leave bill in 2007, according to Steffeney, but has not implemented or funded it.

“Voters said yes, but lawmakers in Washington have stymied it,” said Steffeny.

Shelly Tochluck

Author, teacher and counselor Shelly Tochluck’s talk is titled “How can we build the capacity to talk about race?”

Tockluck explained that to unravel racism, everyone needs to join into the conversation, without pointing fingers, without shaming one another.

“Love is a lot more effective,” Tochluck said.

She went on to say it has, and will, take time to move beyond racism. In following Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideas, Tochluk said, “the long arm of the universe bends toward justice and we will, person by person, continue the process of coming together.”

Tochluk went on to add that she believes there is expanding consciousness amongst human beings that cannot be ignored, but the reaction to that is why tensions are polarized currently.

When asked if it is possible to change a racist, she responded “I’d like to modify the question. Is it possible for a racist to change? Absolutely. All of us are capable of great change.”

Other speakers

• Moe Carrick, founder of Moementum, a consultant group that operates under the principle that people make organizations great.

• World-renowned Seattle photographer Tim Durkan

• “Mosquito mercenary” Grey Frandsen, who has been working to mobilize communities against the Zika virus and other health issues

• Sexologist Ayurvedic and Integrative medicine specialist Dr. Keesha Ewers

• Communications and social media expert Jarrod Lyman

• Marie-Claire Arrieta, who has been researching how intestinal alterations lead to immune disease

• Compassion fatigue specialist Patricia Smith

• Technology and customer relations expert Ric Merrifield.

With such a diverse group of speakers, Mulhall is excited about the event and what attendees will talk away from each talk.

“We hope that TEDxSanJuanIsland will become an annual forum for intelligent and passionate islanders to think big,” Mulhall said.

For more information about the upcoming TEDx event or to check out info from last year visit www.tedxsanjuanisland.com/#home.