Last Friday, the tremendously inspirational TEDxDetroit stormed into downtown Detroit and gave everyone a jolt of optimism for the future of our great city and the innovative thinkers who live and work here.
But first, let me take a step back to explain what TEDx is and why it’s an important event not only for Detroit, but for everyone.
TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, but it’s also a nonprofit organization founded in 1984 that prides itself on presenting ideas worth spreading. It offers the opportunity for visionaries, thought leaders and innovators to discuss issues of interest. Browse through some of the brief but inspirational presentations available here – it’s almost guaranteed to fire up your imagination as it presents ideas that many would consider inconceivable.
The cool thing is, Detroit hosted its own version here at the fabulous Gem Theatre, organized by Charlie Wollborg – chief troublemaker at Curve Detroit – and attended by more than 100 locals who listened to presentations from a host of enthusiastic promoters of Detroit, including:
- Anthony Reale, whose senior project at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies involved an energy generator that uses river current as its source of power. Working with the University of Michigan, he built a device that could be placed unseen underwater in a river and deliver energy in an environmentally sensitive, renewable way. Watch his video here for five minutes of hydro-powered inspiration from an idea hatched and nurtured in Detroit.
- Neil Greenberg, a transit map editor and designer, who mapped a transit system (Freshwater Railway) that could serve Detroit and the suburban areas, connecting us in ways never before considered in car-crazy Motown.
- Joshua Smith was the youngest presenter – and he was impressive in every way. He was only nine years old when he decided to create a lemonade stand to generate funds to help cut the grass at his local park, which was overgrown and unusable; the city couldn’t afford to cut it, so with the help of his family and friends he raised more than $3,000 in a week – and was covered in media outlets throughout the country. Joshua is the proud recipient of the Spirit of Detroit award and his entrepreneurship is commendable.
I’m proud to claim a TEDxDetroit presenter as one of own here at Plex Systems – Doug VanSlembrouck presented about why it’s important to be awesome. It’s an infectious attitude and helps make good things happen. Awesomeness was something shared by all of the presenters.
There were many other equally impressive presenters and musicians and artists, and the one thing they all had in common was a love for the city and the desire to do something.
TEDxDetroit brought together people eager to help make their community a better place to live, to work, to create, to enjoy. The common message was don’t just think about doing something; do it. Action brings results.
The main premise of TEDxDetroit: Michigan is home to talented creators, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, geeks, poets, scientists, thinkers and doers. We come together to collaborate, to share fresh ideas and to find inspiration.
We believe Michigan is a great place to live, work and play. These folks reminded us all that Detroit has made its mark on the world before and will do so again. We are the people who are making it happen. And we believe that is an idea worth spreading.