Inaugural TEDx Salisbury event is rousing success

Nearly 100 people gathered at Headquarters Live Saturday for the city’s first TEDx event, a daylong session that ended with everybody on their feet, applauding and cheering for beatboxer champion Jonaton Lopez.

Lopez, a local young man, ended his talk – the last of nine presented – with a beatbox performance of making sounds and rhythms with his mouth and voice. Music, he said, can change the world.

Also speaking at the event, organized by Mayor Jake Day and emceed by recent Salisbury University graduate Matt Greene, were Corey Blake, presenting Vulnerability is Sexy; Mark DeLancey, The Arts and Social Responsibility; Grace Foxwell Murdock, Kindness in ACTion; Martin Hutchison, Growing More Than Veggies; Andrea Berstler, Why Bigger is Not Better; Bobby Audley, Why You Shouldn’t Do Your Best; Kathy Kiernan, Are You Avoiding the Difficult Conversation? and Joe Frigolette, Tell Me No!

Impressive words of speakers, as well as experiences shared in motivational videos, combined for what TED refers to as the way to “spark deep discussion and connection.”

Catered by Acorn Market and Main Roots Coffee, TEDx was an independently organized TED event, the acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design, a non-profit for exchanging ideas at annual conferences.

Day was pleased with TEDx, and hopeful Salisbury will host it again in 2017. If approved for next year, it could be larger, with an audience of 500, he said.

Greene, the emcee, who calls himself an adventurepreneur, called Salisbury a “gem of the Eastern Shore.” Day touted the city as a place “ready to embrace new ideas and do great things.”

The first speaker, Blake, founder and CEO of Round Table Companies storytelling business in Chicago, wore jeans, a red blazer and black T-shirt with the words Vulnerability is Sexy.

He told a story of a blind man begging for money and holding  a sign that said, “Have compassion. I am blind.”

A few dollars were tossed into his cup, until another man came along, turned the sign over and wrote, “Today is a beautiful day and cannot see it.”

Passersby who spotted those words gave him so much money his can “was ringing like a slot machine,” Blake said, making a case for vulnerability.

“I make the space safe when I lead with vulnerability,” he said because it can help people relate to one other.

DeLancey, who moved from New Hampshire and chose Salisbury as his home, is a social artist who founded Get-IN, referring to “get informed, get involved and get inspired.”

“All of us have something that makes us a creative person,” he said, encouraging those attending to determine what makes them  important in life.

Murdoch, a retired teacher, runs a consulting business and Kindness Bracelet The Original company. Before she walked on stage, bracelets she made were circulated, with the option to keep one or give it away.

Murdoch urged altruism every day and said those who are selfless benefit from giving, receiving and witnessing philanthropic acts.  She suggested smiling, writing notes to friends, adopting a stray pet, leaving coins in a vending machine and shoveling snow for someone.

Murdock is also working to have Buddy Benches installed at school playgrounds. A child sitting on one indicates he needs somebody to play with, and classmates are quick to respond, she said.

Hutchison, pastor of Community of Joy Church, founded Camden Community Garden in 2015 and has plans for another one this year.

The way to revitalize a town is to revise vacant lots, he said.

In conjunction with local churches, he transformed one into a “vibrant, beautiful, lush garden where people could come and pick vegetables for free,” he said.

But more than carrots and kale grow there, he said, giving examples of how good will blossoms when children who were once bored and uninspired now help plant seeds, weed, water and pick vegetables.

Berstler, director of Wicomico County libraries, pointed to a trend toward smaller computers, telephones and stereos. “We don’t want to be treated as a number. My challenge to you is to think small. Be a superhero,” she said.

Audley, a leadership trainer and coordinator of Launch/SBY and the Entrepreneur Center, shared this message: If the way we do anything is the way we do everything, is that feeling at least worth thinking about?

Kiernan, managing partner of APPI Energy, a consulting firm, said it’s important to have difficult conversations.

“People avoid difficult conversations because they were never taught how to have them, but we can learn with practice,” she said, lauding her husband for his habit of saying, “You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.”

Frigolette, born premature and sickly, said his mother became furious with a doctor who told her, when he was a baby, that he wouldn’t develop and probably would never walk.

“How dare you say that about my son?” his mother demanded, confronting the doctor.

She believed in the boy and worked with him, moving his legs to teach him to take steps and never giving up. Every time he celebrated a success, she mailed an update to the doctor who had been pessimistic, Frigolette said, drawing laughter from the audience.

It would be a better world if nobody feared the word, “No,” he said, asking his mother to join him on stage and hugging her.

Lopez, who uses the stage name JFLO, is a native of Mexico who was inspired and motivated to create music.

“I made one of my dreams come true,” he said, smiling. “Music is a true expression of ourselves.”

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