A TEDxCreativeCoast hangover 

Three days after the first TEDxCreativeCoast gathering of "ideas worth sharing" I still have the remnants of a creativity hangover. Last Friday, from 9:15 a.m. until nearly 6:00 p.m., over 100 of us, mostly Savannahians, gathered at Meddin Studios for 18 live presentations and two video talks, ostensibly focused on the theme of "Designing Creativity."

The connectivity of "everything to everything else" has made my brain a little fuzzy on the details, and my notes are not much help. About ten minutes into the first presentation by Drew Davies, I closed the cover of my notebook and capped my pen. Earnest note-taking and my efforts to capture quotable quotes were separating me from full immersion into TEDxCreativeCoast.

I had to choose between being an observer/recorder and a participant. My heart chose the latter.

As a participant, my job was to be fully present, to watch and to listen, to think, to absorb the ideas, to chit chat during the breaks, to enjoy the lunch from Café 37 and drink the sweet iced tea (yes, we were in Savannah in the summer), and to stretch creatively, mentally and even physically-presenter Michelle James led us in The Wave as a seventh-inning-stretch late in the afternoon.

In no particular order, I took in ideas-some new, others renewed. Workplaces in which the goal of the organization is to focus on the employees instead of on the customers. How our reptilian/fight-flight-or-freeze reaction, part of every human being's brain, is controlling every single decision we make, individually or as a society.

How labels trap us into narrow choices, and how connecting disconnected items (like a waffle iron and a shoe) can create new solutions (like Nike Corporation's first shoe with a waffle sole.)

How chaos is really the social Petrie dish for creative problem solving-not negative, violent chaos, but the elegant disorganization that spins and tumbles and bounces within a membrane of opportunity, adversity, need and desire.

I may be remembering some of this wrong, but like I said, I still have a little bit of a hangover.

My favorite presenters were Emory McGaha and Ross Marnock, filmmakers from Asheville, NC. With about three years of film experience and numerous films under their belts, what I took away from their TEDx Talk was the relevance of using film, or other nontraditional educational media, to transform middle and high school education, along with yet another example of "everything is connected to everything."

Like most presenters, McGaha and Marnock spoke from their own experience. Unlike most of the presenters, they rely heavily on their Moms for transportation, since they both just finished ninth grade and won't get their drivers licenses until later this summer.

("We like to call her our driver," said McGaha, during a breaktime conversation. "We ride in the back seat and everything.")

The film partners described how they transformed a failed film into a different definition of success. Months after abandoning a frustrating, unworkable project, the best friends continued to think and talk about it and found that in that experience of that failure was the seed of a new idea that took them in a new direction and led them to a new success.

In one of their films, they needed involvement from a large number of fellow middle school students. McGaha and Marnock persuaded their school's administration to create a filmmaking class that could get students involved with their film and also be part of their formal curriculum.

The class was so successful that it has continued at that school, even though McGaha and Marnock have moved on to high school and to other projects. (Watch their films on YouTube, search by their last names).

One of the best parts of TEDx was the absence of homework. No calls to action, no rallies, no follow-up implementation teams.

But I gave myself my own homework. Send out a couple of emails. Sign up for a couple of blogs. Look at one of my failures that's been bugging me for years and see if there is a new direction buried in it. Even in my fuzzy-brained condition, I suspect that's what the TEDx people had in mind.

Veteran TEDsters and the uninitiated can experience a different kind of TEDx next Monday, and do some serious thinking about the BP oil spill. TEDxOilSpill convenes in Washington, DC at 9 a.m. June 28 to "explore new ideas for our energy future, and how we can mitigate the current crisis in the Gulf" says their website.

Savannah's Maria Castro is attending, and one of the TEDxCreativeCoast organizers may also attend. Live stream meetups are being hosted worldwide, but at press time Savannah was still seeking a venue and an organizer for a local viewing. Get more information or sign up to be the Savannah host at http://www.meetup.com/TEDxOilSpill/.










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Robin Wright Gunn

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