1 Comment

Three TEDxSacramento Performances to Remember

By: Vincent Miranda 

Indie Ballet/Capital Dance Project

At last year’s TEDxSacramento event, a special self-choreographed performance was brought to life by the Capital Dance Project. Founded by professional dancers from the Ballet, Capital Dance Project brings to life a shared dream to create a dancer-run company that inspires the community throughout the summer time.

The performance is a collaboration of local artists, featuring musician Joe Kye and projected visuals by Matt Brown.  The way the music and dance come together and tell a story creates a sense of space and open-mindedness.

Let their performance and artistic expressions inspire you to discover your own new ideas to spread.

Acoustic Expressions

Another great music performance at last year’s TEDxSacramento was by Adrian Bellue, titled “Acoustic Expressions.” His melodies and vocal techniques create a unique environment that highlights experimentation and how it leads to new sonic ideas.

Adrian Bellue is a guitarist who uses modern approaches to acoustic guitar, harp guitar, and tuvan throat singing to create an innovative music and percussion performance.  He has shared the stage with musicians such as Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour, and Craig D’Andrea, and he has been complemented by guitar masters, including John Doan, Thomas Leeb, and Don Ross.

The full range of low and high notes resonate on stage and allow for one’s thoughts to experience another range of possibilities.

Aerial Dancing | AirAligned

Aerial Dancer/Choreographer Tresa Honaker brought forth an inspiring journey and performance at TEDxSacramento 2015. Tresa is the Artistic Director of AirAligned Aerial Dance Group, an organization she started back in 2002, when she turned her vision into a reality.

The talk opened with rountines by fellow aerial performers in her group, demonstrating the poise and athleticism that is involved with such graceful choreography. Her group consists of professionally trained dancers who have received additional training in the aerial arts from Cirque du Soleil in Los Angeles, Ingrid Hoffman, Hollywood Aerial Arts, and Trapeze Arts in Oakland, and San Francisco Circus Center. In addition to performing, AirAligned also teaches students throughout Nevada County, Placer County, and Sacramento County.

During a rehearsal in 2012, Tresa was involved in a tragic accident when she fell from her aerial fabric and suffered a spinal injury that left her paralyzed from the waist down. At a crossroads in her life, Tresa maintained a positive frame of mind and found a way to continue pursuing her passion, upon which she elaborates in this video.

She closed her talk with a solo performance using an aerial net, something she chose as her first piece of equipment to work on, allowing her to keep the aerial choreography alive. Her story demonstrates how one’s vision can thrive regardless of what life throws our way, when fueled by passion and the drive to keep moving forward.






1 Comment

1 Comment

Become A Changemaker Fellow

Changemaker Fellow Tre Borden,  TEDxSacramento, 2015

Changemaker Fellow Tre Borden, TEDxSacramento, 2015

We are excited to announce the return of TEDxSacramento's Changemaker Fellowship in 2016. The Fellowship will be awarded to a Sacramento community member whose work in the community and ideas worth sharing represent "What's Next" in the Sacramento region and/or beyond. 

The Fellowship is available to any citizen of Sacramento, from an artist, to a school teacher, to a CEO. The candidates will be chosen based upon the strength of their idea and their work supporting this idea.

The application is open starting today and ends February 5, 2016. On February 6 we will announce our finalists. The finalists will then need to submit an 3-minute video of their idea by February 8. Winners will be announced on February 9.

Winners will be awarded:


That's right. You will have 3 minutes to share your idea with 2,000+ community leaders, thought leaders, and fellow change makers at our largest event ever, happening February 12 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.


Your talk will be recorded and broadcast to our community via our email and social media outlets. We will ask our community to commit to help support your cause throughout the upcoming year.


Our talks receive approximately half a million annual views by individuals around the globe. Your talk will be posted to TED's TEDx Youtube channel as well as to the TEDx section of the main TED website. As with our primary speakers at the event, your talk will be given consideration for posting to the front page of TED.


1 Comment

1 Comment

Tre Borden - TEDxSacramento Changemaker Fellow

Join us for our next conference, TEDxSacramento 2016, on February 12, 2016. Register today before space runs out. 

By: Chris Brune

Who is Tre?

The Sacramento region’s creative class has been fast at work, opening doors to new ways of thinking about community and public space. By now you may have heard about, or participated (played) at, the community focused art installation known as PORTAL. This month-long activation lived on R Street in front of the iconic Crystal Ice Building in Midtown Sacramento from late August to mid-September. One of the project’s creators, Tre Borden, was named a TEDxSacramento Changemaker at the "This Changes Everything" event on June 12, 2015.

Take a peek at Tre’s talk from This Changes Everything

[Excerpt from the This Changes Everything program]

[Excerpt from the This Changes Everything program]

PORTAL - from concept to activation

In Tre’s talk he laid out his vision for the PORTAL experience that just culminated it’s 6-week run. Tre and PORTAL co-creator Kim Garza created a temporary venue to showcase the many expressions of what makers/creators have in store for the Sacramento community.

With this vision in mind, Tre and Kim enlisted the talents of local ‘makers’ Matt Porr, Trent Dean, and Nile Mittow to see PORTAL through fabrication and installation. The team built the structure at Hackerlab — home to many local makers, programmers, entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

[Tre Borden, Project Manager of PORTAL, and Kimberly Garza, Designer of PORTAL, standing in the structure.]    (photo courtesy of    City Scout Magazine   )

[Tre Borden, Project Manager of PORTAL, and Kimberly Garza, Designer of PORTAL, standing in the structure.]

(photo courtesy of City Scout Magazine)

[The PORTAL activation on R Street]    (photo courtesy of    PORTAL Sacramento   )

[The PORTAL activation on R Street]

(photo courtesy of PORTAL Sacramento)

The programming for PORTAL showcased some of the region’s best creative offerings. It served as a meeting place for several community gatherings through its two month run: Instagram meet ups, sunrise yoga, a local fashion showcase, movie night, disco brunch, and a food truck meet up are just a few of the events that occurred at the R Street installation. The common thread through all these events was the idea of community building. The project asked participants to catalog their experiences under the #PortalSac hashtag so that they could weave their experiences into the larger tapestry of the PORTAL experience.

[photos from participants on Instagram]

[photos from participants on Instagram]

The PORTAL activation was transplanted to West Sacramento for the final three days of its month-long run. What better place to leave a sense of community than the region’s largest art and music festival, TBD Fest.

The festival, envisioned by another TEDxSacramento Changemaker, Clay Nutting, started as a one-day hotel party (then “LAUNCH”) eight years ago. Since then it has evolved into a multi-day festival that embraces creativity through music, art, design, food and ideas. The festival and PORTAL share much of the same creative DNA and ethos — both elevate the creative class and citizens of the city, both look ahead to the potential of Sacramento’s future.

[The PORTAL activation at TBD, September 2015]    (photo courtesy of    TBD Fest   )

[The PORTAL activation at TBD, September 2015]

(photo courtesy of TBD Fest)

A fitting finale to the first chapter an inspired idea. For more information on Tre’s upcoming projects visit his portfolio site.


The PORTAL Team:

Tre Borden, co-producer and program manager

Kim Garza, co-producer and head designer

Matt Porr and Trent Dean, fabrication and construction

Nile Mittow, electrical programming


Become A Changemaker Fellow

Register for TEDxSacramento 2016

1 Comment


The Roaring Twenties: A Defining Decade for Us All as Explained from the TED Stage

By: Lauren Herman

Driving down the road, carefree in my twenties, I hear the lyrics:

Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain/You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today/And then one day you find, ten years had got behind you/No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

The wisdom of Pink Floyd lives on in the TED Talk, “Why 20 is Not the New 30,” by clinical psychologist, Dr. Meg Jay, filmed at TED2013. Dr. Jay specializes in what she calls “twentysomethings,” a decade she describes as a critical period of adult development.

She fears, as described by the lyrics above, Americans are all too willing to define their 20s as an extended adolescence until ten years pass without the realization of missing the starting gun; the chance to start a life they now want now. Take some tips from Dr. Jay for the now and then.

The ToolBox for the Twentysomething

- Get some identity capital.

Do something that adds value to who you are. Exploration is important at this age because it will define and create the future you.

- Use your weak ties.

Weak ties, or acquaintances those outside your circle of friends, will help you the most in life. Don’t limit whom you know, what you know, how you think and where you work.

- Pick your family.

Adults have the choice to pick their family. Picking your family is about consciously choosing who and what you want rather than making it work with whoever chooses you.

As a “twentysomething,” I know from experience that Dr. Jay’s suggestions are easier said than done, especially as there are 50 million of us in the United States living in the post-Great Recession economy with rising tuition, high cost of living and limited job opportunities.  

But, for those in the mist of this decade or having a quarter life crisis, her TED talk is the light at the end of the tunnel. I am willing to take Dr. Jay’s TED Talk to heart because I have a lot (my 20s) to lose.



Celebrate more ideas worth spreading by attending the upcoming TEDxSacramento 2016 on February 12, 2016 - register now! It's not too late - tickets are still available for this unexpected, life changing conference for the Capital Region.



The New Victorians: The Millennial Revolution

By: Jacqui Sjol

Millennials.  The word itself can bring a slew of emotions to those who speak it.  The controversy that surrounds this generation is vast.  To some, they are the Peter Pan generation refusing to grow-up, the entitled and narcissistic future. However, others have a different perspective.  Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, an authority in the field of sustainable economic development and international aid, shared his opinion of the Millennial generation on stage at the TEDxSacramento 2015 conference. 

In his talk, Dr. Sirolli described Millennials as a magnificent, splendid generation.  He portrayed this generation in a way that was inspiring.  Whether you believe Millennials are naughty or nice, Dr. Sirolli’s insight on the generation that he believes will change the world might challenge you to re-examine this controversial group.

Dr. Sirolli compares the Millennial generation to the Victorian generation.  The Victorians invented almost everything that we use today, and Dr. Sirolli feels the Millennial generation will invent and re-invent everything we will use for the next two hundred years to sustain humanity.  He explains that his belief in Millennials came from shutting up and listening to them, a tactic he has used in his experiences in international development.

On the TEDxSacramento stage, Dr. Sirolli explained his frustration with parents not understanding Millennials and challenged the older generations to partner with Millennials to create and help fund the innovations needed to change the world.  How could a generation nick-named the Peter Pan generation ever change the world?  Maybe they already are.  The millennial generation is the one asking for Dr. Sirolli to teach his ideas on economics around the world.  The millennial generation is studying the obscure arts, like handmade shoe making, and reviving them in our economy.  The Millennials cannot be attracted to or retained at corporations who are not impacting this world positively.  Millennials are refusing to live like the status quo; they are pushing boundaries and questioning existing practices. 

Dr. Sirolli at TEDxSacramento2015

Dr. Sirolli at TEDxSacramento2015

Imagine the possibilities if we granted Dr. Sirolli’s hope for partnership.  Envision a world where the old generations guided rather than criticized the new innovators of our time.  If instead of negativity, we look at the positive attributes that this generation has. With the Millennial generation starting to dominate our workforce, what attitude will you choose to have?


Celebrate more ideas worth spreading by attending the upcoming TEDxSacramento 2016 on February 12, 2016 - register now! It's not too late - tickets are still available for this unexpected, life changing conference for the Capital Region!



Celebrate Thanksgiving Through the Act of Sharing and Listening: Participate in StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen

By Lauren Herman

At your Thanksgiving celebrations this year, give the gift of shared experiences and family history by interviewing a loved one. This is the goal of StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen – a movement to record the life stories of our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other elders, who have a wealth of knowledge that may go unnoticed without the effort of younger generations to listen, record and learn.

Dave Isay's TED Talk as the 2015 TED Prize Winner.

Dave Isay founded StoryCorps more than ten years ago, and last year won the TED Prize for his creative and bold vision toward producing a digital archive preserving and learning from the wisdom of humanity. Since then he has continued to grow the message and purpose of StoryCorps to spark global change – this time through StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen.

Register Now!

Interested in participating? Click here for more information. The Story Corps app has tips and tools to assist you with any interview.

Don’t Know How or Where to Start?

TED has published a list of questions written by Dave Isay on their blog to help you get your conversation going.

1.     What was your childhood like?

2.     Tell me about the traditions that have been passed down through our family. How did they get started?

3.     What are your most vivid memories of school?

4.     How did you meet your wife/husband/partner?

5.     What piece of wisdom or advice would you like to share with future generations?

Need Some Inspiration?

Join thousands of Americans, including myself, by interviewing a loved one this Thanksgiving weekend. Don’t pass this opportunity to learn and document the wisdom of your loved ones to preserve their voice and vision from future generations to come. Family history does not have to be a mystery thanks to StoryCorp’s advocacy and TED’s efforts toward listening and sharing this holiday season.

Need another gift idea this holiday season? Give the gift of ideas by purchasing a ticket for you and a friend to attend the upcoming TEDxSacramento2016 on February 12th - register now! It truly is the gift that keeps giving.



The Bionic Pancreas: A Bridge to a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

By Lauren Herman

One of the many joys in life is becoming a parent, but it can also be one of the scariest experiences, especially if your child is diagnosed with a major illness. This parental nightmare became a reality for TEDxSacramento speaker, Dr. Edward Damiano, whose son, David, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, TEDxSacramento highlights Dr. Damiano’s talk, “The Bionic Pancreas,” in which he shares his amazing journey as a parent and researcher trying to create a better future for his diabetic son.

Once thought to be a death sentence, patients are now able to reduce long-term complications through managing their blood glucose levels, but many find the tools are not available to make continual management easy.

Dr. Damiano knew that he and his wife could keep David healthy, but he was concerned with what could happen when David leaves home for college. The responsibility of management would land on the shoulders of his son – a tough task for one person, especially a teenager.

A dream of a better life for his son resulted in the creation of the bionic pancreas - a collaborative effort between Dr. Damiano and his colleagues at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Never before has such a technology revolutionized the lives of patients and their families.

The one and only fully integrated, fully automated bihormonal bionic pancreas.

The one and only fully integrated, fully automated bihormonal bionic pancreas.

The bionic pancreas is a portable medical device that is programmed to the specifics of the type 1 diabetes patient to automatically adjust day or night taking over diabetes management.

It solves four of the leading concerns in type 1 diabetes management.

1.     Reduces glucose levels.

2.     Controls hypoglycemia.

3.     Unburdens patients and families with the stress of therapy compliance. (The device complies with the patient rather than the other way around.)

4.     Unburdens patients and families with the emotional stress and fear of long-term complications.

On the TEDxSacramento stage, Dr. Damiano states, “People with type 1 diabetes have been told for decades that the cure is five years away, but I can tell you with great sadness that there is no cure...The bionic pancreas is no cure, but it is a bridge to a cure. The bionic pancreas is a sturdy bridge to a cure. It is the ever extendable bridge to the ever elusive cure.”

The story of David’s son has not ended. What motivated Dr. Damiano’s research becomes a reality next year – David is college bond. Even though there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, the same worries do not haunt Dr. Damiano and his wife because of the bionic pancreas.

Instead, they can focus on David getting his license and the other adventures yet ahead for their teenage son. Once a death sentence is now a speed bump in life with careful management and assistance from technological advances of a bionic pancreas that was inspired from the ideas and work of a father for his son.

Celebrate more ideas worth spreading by attending the upcoming TEDxSacramento2016 on February 12th - register now!



TEDxSacramento2015 "THIS Changes EVERYTHING": Our BIGGEST and BEST Conference Yet!

TEDxSacramento2015 audience on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Photo: Phil America.

TEDxSacramento2015 audience on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Photo: Phil America.

By Lauren Herman

TEDxSacramento’s biggest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, took place on Friday, June 12 as the final event of its “THIS Changes EVERYTHING” season 2014/2015. Close to 2,000 people from the Sacramento region spent their day listening to others speak their truth, sharing their own stories and reflecting upon the endless possibility of change at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.

Change is a fitting theme for the latest TEDxSacramento season, especially as the heart of Sacramento - its downtown region - undergoes significant construction and redevelopment. This change may serve as a turning point for Sacramento, and this conference gave Sacramentans the opportunity for individual reflection and collective action about what change means to them.

The conference speakers upheld the theme of change; all are dreamers and change makers reimagining how things can be while disrupting the status quo and forever changing the way we see our community, our world and ourselves.

TEDxSacramento speaker Dr. Ernesto Sirolli delivering the first talk at TEDxSacramento2015 "THIS Changes EVERYTHING" on June 12, 2015. Photo: Phil America.

TEDxSacramento speaker Dr. Ernesto Sirolli delivering the first talk at TEDxSacramento2015 "THIS Changes EVERYTHING" on June 12, 2015. Photo: Phil America.

Whether inspiring action or change in business, technology, start-ups, international development, film, or medicine, each speaker offered something to learn, to think, and to do – to claim and become the “this” in “this changes everything.”

- Dr. Braimah Apambire, researcher and development expert, spoke about health changes made possible from developments in water and sanitation.

- Researcher, Dr. Edward Damiano, spoke about developing a bionic pancreas that will change the lives for type 1-diabetes patients.

- Digital producer, Alexander Dervin, spoke about change that comes from creativity and expression.

TEDxSacramento speaker Alexander Dervin on the TEDxSacramento stage. Photo: Phil America.

TEDxSacramento speaker Alexander Dervin on the TEDxSacramento stage. Photo: Phil America.

- Julie Lein, non-profit leader and start-up advocate, spoke about change in innovation made possible only through collaboration between government and start-ups.

- Social enterprise leader, Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, spoke about the changes in international development made possible by Millennials.

- Judy Robinett, business leader and author, spoke about the change and power of networks.

Six Sacramento community members, including Tre Borden, Thomas Dodson, Renee Mitchell, Karla Nelson, Clay Nutting, and Amber Scott, were also given the opportunity to deliver an action pitch on the TED stage about their idea for local innovation and change as part of TEDxSacramento’s Changemaker Fellowship in partnership with The Urban Hive.  

TEDxSacramento conference attendees in front of an art installation - one of the many activities designed for the occasion. Thank you to Phil America, Dorian Lynde and Lauren Herman for their collaboration on this installation. Photo: Phil America.

TEDxSacramento conference attendees in front of an art installation - one of the many activities designed for the occasion. Thank you to Phil America, Dorian Lynde and Lauren Herman for their collaboration on this installation. Photo: Phil America.

These changemaker ideas ranged from re-examining communication training in police units, expanding local art through the sharing economy, and increasing online parenting. One of these individuals will be award a fellowship to support the development of this idea, so it can "change everything" in the Sacramento region and beyond.

If you did not attend this or any of the TEDxSacramento events this season, please share the experience of a TEDx talks with yourself and others. Let TEDxSacramento change something for you as it has for thousands of others in the Capital Region by joining a worldwide movement of people embracing and exchanging ideas of change. The world is constantly changing with or without you, so join us - become the “this” in “this changes everything”.

Thank you to the following speakers, performers and contributors who brought hope and inspiration to the conference: Edward Damiano, Alexander Dervin, Braimah Apambire, Edward Damiano, Ernesto Sirolli, Julie Lein, Judy Robinett, Tre Borden, Thomas Dodson, Renee Mitchell, Karla Nelson, Clay Nutting, and Amber Scott, Adrian Bellue, Capital Dance Project, Air Aligned, Grow Local: Joe Kye and the Sounds of Sacramento (made of Joe Kye, Adrian Bellue, Ricky Berger, James Cavern, Dean Haakernson, and Jahari Sai), Phil America, Dorian Lynde, One Button Suit, Denver J Band, Ariel Jean, Afternoon Teacup Collection, Rosaura Unangst with Pigment and Parchment.





Bionic Pancreas Inventor Edward Damiano to Speak at TEDxSacramento2015

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Space is running out, so register today.

Edward Damiano, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University

Edward Damiano, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University

We're excited to announce that Edward Damiano will be speaking at TEDxSacramento2015, "THIS Changes Everything," on June 12, 2015.

When the Damiano’s 11-month old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the diagnosis radically changed their lives from one of relative peace and security to non-stop stress and worry for their son’s well being. Edward Damiano decided to fight back, reclaim their lives, and in the process, dramatically improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Edward, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, Massachusetts, began development on a bionic pancreas that continuously monitors blood sugar levels and automatically makes the necessary insulin adjustments.

The "bionic pancreas" team's work has been featured by TIME Magazine, ABC News, CBS News, PBS Newshour, the Today Show, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, and The New England Journal of Medicine.



Digital Producer Alexander Dervin to Speak at TEDxSacramento2015

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

By Chris Brune

What do legendary director Steven Spielberg, muralist/graffiti artist David Choe, and creative Renaissance man Kanye West all have in common? They’ve all called on Alexander Dervin to produce visual sequences for their wildly diverse creative projects. 

TEDxSacramento is thrilled to announce that innovative short film, commercial, and documentary film producer Alexander Dervin will speak at the upcoming “THIS Changes EVERYTHING” conference on June 12, 2015.

Alexander Dervin cut his teeth in the industry as a production assistant for legendary television producer Michael Seligman. After a short time, he started coordinating and managing productions. These experiences from the world of traditional television would serve as a bridge to his success as a digital film producer.

Dervin has produced highly stylized sequences for Terrence Malick, Julie Taymor, Ben Affleck, Matt Fraction, MK12, and many other creatives. His commercials, title sequences, and visual effects work opened up new opportunities for Dervin to produce documentaries, features and series. Some projects include Argo, Superman Returns, Across the Universe, Tron and Minority Report.

Want to take a peek inside the creative mind of Alexander Dervin? He'll be sharing insights and inspiration, alongside our other great thinkers and doers, on stage at TEDxSacramento’s “THIS Changes EVERYTHING” event on June 12, 2015 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Register today.



Sacramento's John Marcotte shares 3 favorite TED talks

Editor's Note: This is our first guest post by one of our speakers, John Marcotte, whose talk, "Girls can be their own superheroes," captured the hearts of real life superheroes everywhere. In this post, John shares three of his favorite talks. If you're a TEDxSacramento fan and would like us to feature your top three, please email us. For the *live* TEDxSacramento experience, register for our next conference.

By John Marcotte

I will start by admitting defeat..

I was asked to share my three “favorite” TED or TEDx talks, and I can’t. Not because TED talks are not brilliant, funny, poignant and inspiring -- they are; often all at the same time -- but because there are so many brilliant, funny, poignant and inspiring talks that it becomes impossible to choose a favorite. It’s a surplus of riches, and we won’t even get into the fact that I have only seen a small fraction of all the Talks out there.

Since I can’t pick three favorites, instead I am going to choose three talks that explore different ways TED and TEDx speakers inspire and inform me.

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

I knew Amy Cuddy’s research before I ever saw her talk. I actually cited her research on “power poses” in my own TEDxSacramento talk, but she is the source of the genius that I only skim the surface of. Her talk is one of the most popular of all time, and it explores how you can become a better person just by changing the way that you stand.

Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity

Charlie Todd is the man behind Improv Anywhere. His large scale, public pranks are often brilliant, but never mean-spirited. He is a hero to me because he shows that you can make the world a better place for the people around you if you just try. There is a powerful, empowering message hidden among the pantsless subway rides and grocery-store musicals.

Terry Moore: How to tie your shoes

While I have seen dozens of TED talks that inspire me, challenge me or make me see the world in a different way, I can honestly say that there is not a single talk that I use more frequently in my day-to-day life than Terry Moore’s “How to tie your shoes.” I had wrongly assumed I knew all there was to know about tying shoes and that there was no way to improve upon the system I had been using since childhood.

I was wrong.

So there you have it. Three TED talks -- all worth watching, all showcasing different ways that watching TED talks can make you a better person and the world a better place as a result.


1 Comment

The Possibility and Power of Relationships: Business Leader Judy Robinett to Speak at TEDxSacramento2015

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

TEDxSacramento is proud to announce that Judy Robinett, entrepreneur, author and business leader, will speak at its upcoming conference, “THIS Changes EVERYTHING” on June 12, 2015.

Judy has made a name for herself by working non-stop in the public and private sectors. She led numerous companies as CEO, served in management positions at Fortune 500 companies, and held a faculty position within the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business Program. Currently, she serves on the advisory boards of Illuminate VC, Pereg VC, Springboard Enterprises, WIM and Newpark Capital.

Judy’s recently published book, How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+150 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits, has gained national attention. Inc. Magazine ranked it as the #1 business book of 2014 for its eye opening advice for entrepreneurs seeking and investing in relationships that add value to their lives and the lives of others. 

Judy writes, “For you to become a master of strategic relationship, you need to do more than just connect, care, and add value.” She advocates for becoming the “connector between connections--the person who can help people reach a resource they would never know about and could never reach if it weren't for you.”  Such “critical connection skills” are what make her ever-expanding roles in almost every sector possible.

If you have put off registering, but want to make sure that you secure good seats, don't wait any longer. We have an amazing line up of speakers, including Judy Robinett and Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, and, trust us, you will want to be as close as possible, especially in such a large venue.

On Friday, June 12, we invite you to spend a day with us filled with brilliant live speakers, captivating live performances, extraordinary talks and you! It is dedicated to those daring enough to dream, to reimagine the way things are as the way they can be and should be, and whose ideas promise to disrupt the status-quo and forever change the way we see things. We anticipate more than 2,000 attendees, changemakers, and global thought leaders.

Claim your seat before it’s gone!

1 Comment


Dave Park: The Other Concert in Your Pocket

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

Ever notice what happens when you walk past a piano? Or see a guitar sitting idly nearby? Most of us, whether we know how to play or not, feel the impulse to plunk our fingers down on a few keys or mindlessly strum a few strings. But if you’ve ever tried to elicit anything resembling melody from an instrument that you didn’t know how to play, only to give up in frustration, Dave Park has a revolutionary idea for you.

Dave Park speaking at TEDxSacramento2013. To watch his talk, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Dave Park speaking at TEDxSacramento2013. To watch his talk, scroll to the bottom of this post.

A 15-year music industry veteran, Park uses technology to give music fans who aren’t musicians the power to play, recognizing what he describes as a “simple problem of interface, when people who love music, can’t play it.” Drawing inspiration from the barcode on a Cracker Jack box, Park decided to explore and develop a “common denominator for music,” one that would bridge the gap between artists and fans. The key, he says, is to codify, or reduce to code, the compositional information in music.

Park compares the potential power of this approach, known as algorithmic composition, to the impact that word doc technology has had on language and communication. “Think how word doc technology changed the world,” Park said. “It turned us from a world of readers into a world of writers.” Now Park wants to give all of us, regardless of our access to music education or the availability of traditional instruments, the ability to actualize the music we feel in our hearts and hear in our heads. Changing us from a world of music listeners, to a world of music makers.

Five of Dave Parks' favorite things about music 

Why is Park so passionate about this idea? Five quotes from his engaging TEDxSacramento2013 talk help explain:

  1. “Few things in this world connect us and affect us more than music.”
  2. “Music is the soundtrack to all the great moments of our lives.”
  3. “Music has the magical ability to communicate feelings and ideas in ways that are more clear than words alone.”
  4. “Music is inherently interactive.”
  5. “When the music plays, our bodies move…it’s involuntary, part of the human response mechanism.”

Park is visibly and audibly excited over the possibility of how programming and technology could give future generations of children the chance to fully experience music interactively, “with a choice to hear or be heard.”  By their enthusiastic applause at the conclusion of his talk, TEDxSacramento attendees harmoniously conveyed that this compelling vision was music to their ears.

About Dave Park, TEDxSacramento speaker

Dave Park is the CEO of Recombinant Inc, a music technology company developing interactive environments that put the fan in the band. He has become a tireless advocate for developing new systems and technologies to help bring artists and fans together. Dave is a 15-year music industry veteran of artist management, talent acquisition, and music publishing. He was an early champion of Korn and Papa Roach. Dave managed and signed the Grammy Award-winning group Deftones, an American alternative metal band from Sacramento.



Looking to Nature for a Sustainable Future

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

By Lauren Herman

How much stuff do you actually have? That is the question Beth Rattner asked the audience at the TEDxSacramento Salon “This Changes Everything: City” on March 7, 2015.

She challenged the audience to imagine pulling all their possession out of their home and placing everything into one pile. What does our stuff tell us about each other and our past? Most importantly, what does it tell us about our future?

Beth points out that our stuff may bring us comfort and joy in the moment, but asks at what cost to our future.


Another Man’s Trash is Not Always Another Man’s Treasure

As Biomimicry Institute’s Executive Director, Beth isn’t primarily concerned with the accumulation of the stuff we surround ourselves with. Her true concern lies in the environmental impact of the production and discarding of our possessions.

She points out that the world population will reach 9.5-10 billion by 2050 with 1.8 billion new people entering the middle class in the next few decades alone. Currently, the United States middle class spends $21 trillion a year on what she calls “our” stuff, but quickly reminds us that this will increase as population rises over time.

Beth Rattner speaking at the TEDxSacramento Salon "This Changes Everything: City" on March 7, 2015 challenging us to question what's in our  stuff ?

Beth Rattner speaking at the TEDxSacramento Salon "This Changes Everything: City" on March 7, 2015 challenging us to question what's in our stuff?

Rather than focus on the amount of stuff we purchase and discard, she brings to light a simple question that often complicates (in a good way) the dialogue around consumerism. What is in our stuff?

Understanding the make-up of our possessions, the items we use in everyday life, including our mobile phones, disposable coffee cups, toilet paper, and blue jeans, is important in the imagining and reimaging our future. Such knowledge allows us to understand the impact that the production and destruction of our stuff has on the environment and our health.


Our Design Program and How Nature's Way is the Right Way

Beth reveals that there are fifty million man-made chemicals in the world. In the United States, 60,000-80,000 of these chemicals are used in everyday life, but only one percent is regulated. As a result, Beth states, “We understand the hazards of one percent of [these chemicals].”

We all live with toxic chemicals everyday, perhaps without consciously realizing it. She discusses that a concern for cities should be the impact of these chemicals “becoming a lot greater” when humans live in densely populated areas.

But, Beth makes the point that “We all live with tonic chemicals everyday, but we just don’t know what to do about it. We think that we have to choose between things that are beautiful and things that are safe. But, that’s a false choice.”

We all live with toxic chemicals everyday, but we just don’t know what to do about it. We think that we have to choose between things that are beautiful and things that are safe. But, that’s a false choice.

Beth believes that we have a design problem – nothing more, nothing less. The Biomimicry Institute where she works stresses the importance of nature in design. Nature has the answers that can and will transform our current and future innovations.

Biomimicry follows “Life’s Principles” that “instruct us to build from the bottom up, self-assemble, optimize rather than maximize, use free energy, cross-pollinate, embrace diversity, adapt and evolve, and use life-friendly materials and processes, engage in symbiotic relationships, and enhance the bio-sphere.” The whole point is to learn from and mimic nature – adapt to nature, rather than the other way around. 


Ask Nature: What We Can Learn from Nature

Here are some lessons we can use as blueprints to transfer nature's designs to improve our own design process. Log onto Biomimicry's "Ask Nature" to find out more!

-Adhesive: Collaboration between Northwestern University in Illinois and the Kensey Nash Corporation resulted in a new adhesive called “Geckel” made possible by applying the phenomenon called “contact splitting” that creates the dry adhesion strengths of gecko feet and the polymer of an amino acid called DOPA used by mussels to create a wet adhesive.

It is hoped that this “biomimetic hybrid material” will be used for bandages and transdermal drug-delivery patches as it is impervious to water, maintains adhesion over 1000 contact/release cycles, and easily removed when no longer needed.

-Water Proof Material: Nikwax Analogy is a waterproof fabric that mimics the “waterproofing system” and “breathability” of mammal fur. The outer layer of dense microfiber fabric deflects wind and rain, and the inner layer made of asymmetric filaments uses capillary action to move moisture away from the body. It is hoped that this “nature-inspired technology” will be used in clothing produced for harsh weather conditions.

Imagine the other improvements or inventions made possible though the lessons of nature that are adaptable to our lives!


Consumers As Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

If we have not yet heeded the cautionary tales of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, An Inconvenient Truth, or the most recent This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, consider Beth’s advocacy for working with nature rather than against it.

Beth Rattner stressing the importance of consumer participation in sustainable design.

Beth Rattner stressing the importance of consumer participation in sustainable design.

Such an approach is needed in our state of California. The golden state is experiencing the worst drought in its history leading Governor Brown to recently announce California’s first mandatory water reduction for businesses and residents. It is time to think about how the actions and designs of humans, especially large corporations and well-off communities impact such conditions. This speaks to Beth’s discussion on the growing middle class and its consumption habits.

Beth ultimately believes that consumers are the solution, not the problem. She asks us to take a few minutes everyday to sit in nature and observe. Observe how nature cooperates rather than competes for a healthy, thriving environment. She asks us to consider what might happen if companies and society both mimicked nature in this way.

What if companies cooperated rather than competed; what would our environment – our cities look like? Would this contribute to the health of the planet rather than the bottom line of a given company or the well being of one community over the other?

Such considerations will transform our designs, economic systems and approach to life. Don’t be afraid to let nature in — think outside the ‘big box retailer,’ and think inside the eco-sphere.


There are more AMAZING speakers to come at the upcoming TEDxSacramento conferenceTHIS Changes EVERYTHING” on June 12, 2015 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. REGISTER NOW before tickets sell out!



Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, Entrepreneur and International Development Maverick, to Speak at the Upcoming TEDxSacramento Conference

By Lauren Herman

We are excited to announce that Dr. Ernesto Sirolli will speak at the largest TEDxSacramento conference, “THIS Changes EVERYTHING,” on Friday, June 12, 2015. Don’t wait until the last minute – register now!

Dr. Ernest Sirolli, Founder, Sirolli Institute

Dr. Ernest Sirolli, Founder, Sirolli Institute

Dr. Ernesto Sirolli, researcher, author and founder of Sirolli Institute, has worked for decades in the fields of community and economic development. What makes his work TED worthy? It's his admission and unique approach to failure; yes, the “f” word.

Dr. Sirolli’s lived experiences with the “f” word began while working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Africa as a young adult. He witnessed the potential of local knowledge that was (and still is) rarely acknowledged by foreign aid workers and volunteers who continually implemented (and still do implement) failed projects.

Rather than walking away in frustration, Dr. Sirolli tackled the sobering truth of aid failure by creating an alternative approach, known as “Enterprise Facilitation,” that harnesses the passion and innovation of community leaders to make the change they want to see in their communities. Over 250 communities worldwide have adopted this “person-centered” approach through the Sirolli Institute that advocates the art of listening to create the foundation for localized sustainable economic development.

Dr. Ernesto Sirolli speaking during his previous TED talk in September 2012.

Dr. Sirolli inspires the ability to recognize and accept failure as a stepping-stone to reimagine and recreate current systems that are failing us. When was the last time you turned failure – the “f” word - into action?

Want to know more! Watch Ernesto Sirolli on the TED stage, and get ready to hear him and other great thinkers and doers at TEDxSacramento’s “THIS Changes EVERYTHING” on June 12, 2015 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.



Urban Design for Joy

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.


By: Chris Brune

George Zisiadis is an interactive artist and designer who playfully reimagines the everyday. He inspires in those who touch his work new ways of seeing the world. His San Francisco-based studio produces work independently and in collaboration with brands and institutions.

Through both guerrilla interventions and my public art work, I’ve focused on re-imagining mundane urban experiences into opportunities for joy.
— George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis at the TEDxSacramentoSalon, "This Changes Everything: City," on March 7, 2015.

George Zisiadis at the TEDxSacramentoSalon, "This Changes Everything: City," on March 7, 2015.

George wasn't always the urban design rebel we met on the TEDxSacramento stage at “This Changes Everything: City” at The Guild Theatre. He was once a self-proclaimed jaded New Yorker until he took a stroll in Manhattan's Central Park in the winter of 2005.

George's 'Ah-ha!' moment

Hungarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude, known jointly as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, descended on Central Park in early January 2005. They employed an army of volunteers to help create a remarkable installation piece entitled The Gates that transformed the massive park with vibrant deep saffron-colored nylon fabric banners along its many miles of pathway.

For George, the same walk that he had done hundreds of times before was now a sublime experience. He found himself wandering for hours in a mesmerized state of awe. When reflecting over the transformative experience of the installation, George recalls a moment of epiphany.

People spend millions of dollars to build giant ‘things’ in cities that serve no other purpose than to make people happy? That’s awesome!
— George Zisiadis

He decided to seek out more experiments in urban imagination. George has dedicated his life to creating experiences, like The Gates, so others might be inspired, too. He set out to bring a sense of joy and wonder to the people who participate in urban spaces across the country.

Urban Inventions

George set out on his new path by making simple observations to add poetry to the everyday. He started asking questions like “maybe something more could go here, something more joyous?” He didn’t have to wait long until he found his first opportunity to experiment. His first project centered around the bike racks of New York City. It was his first in an ongoing series of installations that playfully re-imagined public space.

Musical Bike Rack  - An urban intervention re-imagining the use of bike racks.

Musical Bike Rack - An urban intervention re-imagining the use of bike racks.

In George's mind, music (gongs) + the mundane (the ubiquitous NYC bike rack) = potential for a more human, emotional, and reflective experience. George summed up the whole experience in one simple truth, "Who doesn’t like hitting gongs?"

As adults we come to rely on routine. It’s experiences like the Musical Bike Rack that shake people out of their daily routines and give us permission to play. Simply put, George is creating experiences that punctuate the everyday urban landscape and remind us how to seek joy as a child might.

Mistletoe Drone

The introduction of the Amazon drone delivery concept presented George with an opportunity to, once again, inject some whimsy into an otherwise ordinary tool whose purpose was utilitarian in design. When the drone delivery stunt first took off, George said, "We can do better. How about a mistletoe drone?"

Mistletoe Drone - An urban intervention in San Francisco's Union Square in December 2013 designed to spread holiday cheer.

George was able to reach pedestrians in an urban setting without having to deploy a (semi)permanent installation. The drone itself wasn’t placed ‘on’ the urban landscape; it was placed ‘above’ the fray of busy holiday shopping. The experience was piloted to people instead of relying on pedestrians to make their way to where an installation was located. This added layer of mobility created an element of surprise that co-opted the passersby into participants.

The drone also illustrated how a relatively small execution can impact participants and onlookers in a deep and relevant way. George learned that he didn’t need to build an imposing physical structure to make a big impact on the public. A quadcopter, mistletoe, and some holiday cheer were all the ingredients necessary to spread joy that afternoon in San Francisco’s Union Square.

Pulse of The City

These early projects inspired George to tackle bigger issues in cities. There is a truth that comes into focus when we humans gather in increasingly dense space — we lose touch with our natural rhythms and become increasingly drone-like. George shared his solution to this unfortunate effect of city living. He asked himself, "Amongst the chaotic rhythms of the city, how can we connect people to the rhythms of their own bodies?" His answer to this question was realized in his installation Pulse of The City where participants' heartbeats are turned into music.

Pulse of the City - a public art installation that turns pedestrians' heartbeats into music. 

When visitors hold onto the handles, they hear their heartbeat layered over with custom music produced from their real-time pulse data.

Pulse of the City gave people the opportunity to stop and playfully reconnect with the rhythms of their bodies. The installation is another example of how George transformed the soundscape by adding joy to the maelstrom of noise endemic to city life.

Urban Imagination

George shared with us the elegantly simple ideas that eventually found their way into his book, Urban Imagination. It's a collection of fifty whimsical drawings that add a playful twist to everyday urban objects. Skyscraper ziplines, gumball parking meters, and disco ball traffic lights are just a few of the charmingly illustrated ideas that explore how to make cities more fun.

For adults, Urban Imagination is a reminder of what it’s like to see the world through a child’s eyes. For children, it’s a validation of what they already know is possible.
— George Zisiadis
Grass Bench  - The first Urban Imagination concept turned into reality! Created for the San Francisco Exploratorium's night of Civic Hacking.

Grass Bench - The first Urban Imagination concept turned into reality! Created for the San Francisco Exploratorium's night of Civic Hacking.

This series of sketches proved to be far more than the makings of a fantastic coffee table book. Those who thumbed through the pages of childlike crayon and color pencil drawings found that their own latent urban imagination had been ignited with the possibility of designing for joy.

Isn't it frivolous: Is urban art worth the cost of investment?

George introduces us to two very different cities with wildly different outlooks on function and design. The first city "Boring," as George calls it, is the type of place where overpass and stairwells are grey and empty — it's a familiar scene in most cities. George also introduces us to a city a few miles down the road that employs a fundamental difference in its approach to urban design. In this second city, a sterile, unremarkable, underpass can be re-imagined as a communal meeting place. But, is it worth the expense and effort?

Simple considerations at the design phase can result in urban spaces that are not only entertaining, but also profit centers for the municipality that commissions them. George returns to his formative experience with joy-centered design to substantiate this claim.

The Gates in Central Park is estimated to have attracted four million visitors during its fifteen day run. Those visitors that flocked to Manhattan from around the world paid for lodging, ate at restaurants, bought souvenirs from street vendors — you get the point. The taxes from these transactions fill city coffers, not to mention the extra dollars that find their way to the pockets of vendors and small business owners. It's estimated that The Gates installation was responsible for over $254 million in revenue; not bad for a bunch of colored sheets waving in the wind.

George adds some insight by saying, "...designing for function and designing for joy are not mutually exclusive." Embracing a joy-centered design ethos can indeed have a real world impact on the fortunes of cities and the individuals who live there.

George left us with a very simple question.

We have a choice as a society. We can continue building and shaping our cities to be boring, or we can have more happy adventures — which would you rather live in?
— George Zisiadis

He showed us how any idea, no matter how grand in scope or singular in focus can both effect how we shape our world through joyful design.


For more examples of George Zisiadis' work and creative process, including his '100 Questions to guide any creative project,' visit his website.

Interested in learning about and sharing more ideas worth spreading? Register for the upcoming TEDxSacramento "THIS Changes EVERYTHING!" on June 12, 2015. Join thousands of fellow Sacramentans at the biggest TEDxSacramento conference ever!



From Kabul to Sacramento: What the Afghan Women's Cycling Team Taught Me about Life

Join us for our largest conference yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

By Lauren Herman

When filmmaker Sarah Menzies traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan to document the lives of female cyclists, she began an unexpected journey not just as a director, but also as an individual. 

She spoke at the TEDxSacramentoSalon “This Changes Everything: WOMEN” about the film, Afghan Cycles, and how it was more than just another job. She admits that it did not take much convincing for her to pack her bags when she learned about the female cyclist team based in Kabul. But, what was surprising about the project was her unexpected personal growth before and after the film that began when she landed in Afghanistan meeting, befriending and filming the female cyclists.

     Sarah Menzies on the TEDxSacramento stage at "This Changes Everything: Women" on December 12, 2015.

     Sarah Menzies on the TEDxSacramento stage at "This Changes Everything: Women" on December 12, 2015.

In a recent blog post about her TED talk, Sarah wrote, “I’ll be honest, when I was asked to speak at TEDxSacramento this winter, I was nervous...I think it’s because for the first time, I was required to insert myself into the story. We’ve tried so hard to keep ourselves out of any of the messaging, so it was strange to personalize this story and talk about myself. The truth is, the women we’re profiling in the film have completely transformed me and my way of thinking.”


Sarah’s Unexpected Journey

Sarah’s unexpected journey as a filmmaker and individual brought to light her own misconceptions of Afghanistan and the role of women in it – a county made familiar to Westerners through scenes of war produced by mass media rather than personal experience.

Sarah explains on the TEDxSacramento stage that, “Afghanistan is not an easy place to be a women let alone a women riding a bicycle.” But, she goes on to explain that the females she befriended and worked alongside were not helpless, weak individuals that need saving like she once imagined.

Watch Sarah Menzies' TEDxSacramento talk, "What the Afghan women's cycling team taught me about life" filmed at "This Changes Everything: Women" on December 12, 2014.

The women in the film completely changed her “western bias and western fears” about the lives of Afghani women. She realized that even though “women are oppressed by men, culture and tradition...that does not have to mark them as victims.” She is determined to showcase these women as the strong, hopeful females she met who challenged her to see them as more than the conflict of their homeland. They are individuals with hopes and dreams doing something they love – riding a bicycle. Rather than feel pity and sorrow, she wants the world to feel the hope of these Afghan women cyclists when learning about them.


Sarah’s Gift to Us from the TED Stage

Sarah wanted to give a voice to the story of these female cyclists through her film, but they in turn gave her a new perspective that she is now able to use to speak to our own prejudices, biases and misconceptions of our world – especially Afghanistan.

Even though Sarah was not in Afghanistan offering humanitarian aid, I believe that she was on a mission for humanity to save ourselves from our fallacies and misjudgments of “the other” -- other cultures, other religions, other countries, other governments that are different from our own and which, we -- in turn -- deem as inferior or a danger to our own. In this case, it is the unexplored country and women of Afghanistan in which most Americans only understand through the lens of the violence and conflict.

We need people like Sarah to wake us up to the realization that despite differences in culture, gender, age, nationality, and occupations, we are all human. All seven billion of us experience pain and joy; we all have family and friends; we have much more in common than differences. To truly appreciate that, we need to listen and learn from one another and be open to the possibility that the labels we give to one another are most likely wrong.

Take the opportunity to listen to Sarah’s story on the TEDxSacramento stage to see how her journey will change you. Let her film and her talk serve as transformative agents for you.


Want to learn more mind blowing ideas worth spreading? Attend the upcoming TEDxSacramento2015 conference, "THIS Changes EVERYTHING," at the Community Center Theater on June 12, 2015. Register Now!


Pose like a superhero because you are


Pose like a superhero because you are

Join us for our largest event yet, TEDxSacramento2015, on June 12, 2015. Register today before space runs out.

We're pleased to release John Marcotte's talk, "Girls can be their own superheroes," first given at the TEDxSacramentoSalon, "This Changes Everything: Women," in December 2014.

John Marcotte at TEDxSacramentoSalon, December 2014, "This Changes Everything: Women"

John Marcotte at TEDxSacramentoSalon, December 2014, "This Changes Everything: Women"


This talk has already struck a chord with the internets, inspiring women and girls to pose like a superhero, take a photo, and post it online with the hashtag #PoseLikeASuperhero, as featured on the Women You Should Know blog. Don't worry, if you're male, you can participate too.

And now, enjoy the talk, and maybe you too will be inspired. Watch it here or at the TEDx website.


1 Comment

How Millennial Choua Yang is Making a Sacramento for You and Me

By: Lauren Herman

From the Editor: Labeled as the “me” generation, millennials are often generalized as lazy, self-absorbed, and obsessed with selfies, friending one another on Facebook, and tweeting their opinions. But, like any previous generation, millennials are more than the labels used in the media to group hundred of thousand Americans into one cohesive “me-centric” stereotype.

In our Sacramento community, the following individuals featured in this blog series are the antithesis to the argument that millennials just don’t care. May their stories make you think twice about what it means to be a part of the “m” generation.


Choua Yang - Sacramentan Millennial: Beyond Standardization in Public Education

At a young age, Choua Yang immigrated to Sacramento with her parents from Laos. Considering herself still a Sacramentan to this day, she recalls her transition to the Capital Region as a journey based in community, family, and education that she now takes to her current job in the Sacramento City United School District.

Working in partnership with the district as an Associate Director at the Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center, Choua serves as coordinator of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program for the five large comprehensive Sacramento high schools. Within ASSETs, she works alongside students, educators, administrators, and local governance to ensure she maintains what she describes as a “meaningful” place outside the classroom for youth within the public education system. It is her dream to work as an “adult ally” within the very same education system that helped her become the person she is today.

Choua reflects, “After college, I initially wanted to go to graduate school to become a high school counselor, but districts were laying off counselors along with many other educators. I still wanted to work in education and be in the front line, so I began as a part-time Team Leader in the afterschool program. I had so much fun and have stayed ever since.”

Choua is an asset herself showing high school students what is possible with community support. Her diverse cultural and socioeconomic background, attendance in the Sacramento Unified School District, and knowledge of what is necessary for young adults to succeed in college and beyond are all factors make her an asset.

Her greatest advantage in this new field of education management is living and working in Sacramento without taking the freeway to work. Parents and students see her at their neighborhood grocery stores and community events. Choua considers herself a member of their community.

With this, Choua strives to make the ASSETs program more than an afterschool program; it is a high school center dedicated to the continuing evolution of educational, emotional, and physical development for teens that cannot be meet or measured by standardized tests and curriculum.

“I envision this program as a glimpse into higher education opportunities. Colleges don’t close at 3pm and libraries stay open almost 24 hours a day. But high schools close at 3:00pm and staff go home, expecting students to leave campus and study elsewhere. Districts cannot provide access to 21st century learning and technology to all students. Because of this gap, I was not prepared for college. I want to make sure high school students can utilize their campuses like colleges,” Choua says.

Though not the sole solution for reducing high school drop out rates or college preparations, ASSETs is the start of a long process to keep teens engaged with their own educational journey – both inside and outside the classroom.


Continuing the Discussion of Public Education

Choua is not an anomaly of any generation. That is the reason why her story is important. She is representative of a trend among current and past generations concerned with California’s public education system. Education has been a huge concern for young Californians for generations – Baby Boomer, Gen Xers and now Millennials.

Born in Laos and raised in Sacramento, Choua considers herself a 1.5 generation because growing up she had to translate for her parents and ensure her younger siblings received quality education. Working on the front lines of ASSETs, Choua has been able to bridge the gap between many parents and their students due to cultural and generational differences. 

It is the recent millennial generation that is carrying the torch for public education and bringing to discussion the rise of tuition, persistent budget cuts, oversized classrooms, elimination of extra curriculum activities - all structural changes that are needed to preserve and advance public education for all.

If trends in college enrollment among millennials continue, they are expected to be the most educated generation, but it is not proving worthwhile to many with low employment and rising debt among recent graduates.

Those who have been on the public education forefront are the faculty, teachers, students, parents, administration, and elected officials, but Choua brings her story to you to spark public interest, your interest, in public education that goes beyond the ballot box.

Choua brings this conversation to the table for Sacramento to piece out, so we do not forget the need to be informed and aware of what is happening in public education whether its our elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, community colleges, or the State and University of California systems.

Public education cannot exist without public participation, especially regarding the use of taxpayer dollars in funding education for our communities. Participation and awareness come in many forms. Choua found her place and stance on the topic of education. Have you found yours? Without quality and accessible public education - a public good for all Californians - Sacramento cannot exist for you and me.


Interested in learning about and sharing more ideas worth spreading? Register for the upcoming TEDxSacramento "THIS Changes EVERYTHING!" on June 12, 2015. Join thousands of fellow Sacramentans at the biggest TEDxSacramento conference ever!

1 Comment

1 Comment

X Changed Everything for Me. Let It Change Everything for You: Announcing the Biggest TEDxSacramento Conference EVER!

By Lauren Herman

Once upon a time, I was a Sacramentan who did not want to be a Sacramentan. I was lost in what Sacramento wasn’t rather than what Sacramento is. What changed this for me? X changed everything - TEDxSacramento changed everything for me.

A year ago, I became the blogger for TEDxSacramento in a reluctant effort to embrace the city where I was born and raised. I recently graduated from college and returned to Sacramento after living abroad. High off my experiences of other cities, I asked myself what I wanted out of the city I call home. Thus, I ask you, what do you want from our city, our community of Sacramento?  

I am excited to share with you the opportunity to let X change everything for you, too! Join fellow Sacramentans for the biggest TEDxSacramento conference THIS Changes EVERYTHING on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the Community Center Theater.

If you have not experienced TEDxSacramento for yourself, please consider the endless possibilities of what X can bring to your life. Let TEDxSacramento change something, if it has not yet, for you.

People from all walks of life have a connection to TEDxSacramento whether they have attended an event, know someone who has attended an event, participated in an event, volunteered at an event, read about the organization in local media, or followed the organization on social media. Join the movement of people embracing community gathering, dialogue and exchange in the name of ideas worth spreading in Sacramento.

During this time of transition for Sacramento, it is important to remember who and what Sacramento is. Sacramento is simply you and me. We make TEDxSacramento: the opportunity to learn and share ideas in our Capital Region. The people connected to TEDxSacramento, the volunteers, attendees, performers, and participants, and their ideas changed everything for me, and it has for thousands of people. That is why X changed everything for me.

Join your fellow Sacramentans for the big one - the biggest conference in TEDxSacramento’s history in the heart of downtown Sacramento! Let X change something for you. REGISTER NOW!

1 Comment