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HomeNewsLocal newsSpeakers Share Personal Stories, Innovative Ideas at STT's Second TEDx

Speakers Share Personal Stories, Innovative Ideas at STT’s Second TEDx

<p><img width=”276″ vspace=”4″ border=”1″ hspace=”8″ height=”183″ align=”left” title=”Climate scientist Sandra Maina addresses the crowd at Saturday&amp;rsquo;s TEDx Saint Thomas event.” alt=”Climate scientist Sandra Maina addresses the crowd at Saturday&amp;rsquo;s TEDx Saint Thomas event.” src=”/files/userfiles/image/00%202016%20NEWS%20PHOTOS/06%20June/TEDx.jpg” />Refugees created by climate change, the healing power of dance, and the interpretation of dreams were just a few of the topics broached Saturday at St. Thomas&rsquo;s second TEDx event, an independently-organized offshoot of the popular multidisciplinary TED lecture series held each year in Canada.</p>
<p>The nonprofit TED &mdash; the name is an acronym for technology, entertainment and design &mdash; was founded in 1984 with the mission of hosting speakers on &ldquo;ideas worth spreading.&rdquo; As TED grew in popularity, the TEDx program was introduced to allow for smaller TED-licensed events to be organized independently in communities around the world.</p>
<p>TEDx Saint Thomas, which is organized by Leigh Goldman, Brigitte Berry, Laura Harwig and Kayla Joseph, debuted in June 2015 at Antilles School with an event featuring local and visiting speakers on subjects from sea turtle habitat conservation to the implications of colorblindness in medical professionals.</p>
<p>On Saturday, TEDx Saint Thomas returned to Antilles School,. The spacious Mark C. Marin Center was chosen for this year&rsquo;s event over last year&rsquo;s smaller venue, Prior-Jollek Hall.</p>
<p>The arts, from photography to performance, were well-represented as subject matter this year, as were the the concepts of personal healing and self-care.</p>
<p>Those topics even overlapped in a talk titled &ldquo;More than Just Dance &rdquo; delivered by executive director of Dancing Classrooms V.I., Katie Zaytoun.</p>
<p>Zaytoun spoke of how self-expression, including dance, can help those who have experienced trauma move beyond mere &ldquo;survival,&rdquo; which she defined as &ldquo;just trying to be able to get through the day.&rdquo;</p>
<p>&ldquo;We have 31 percent of children [in the V.I.] growing up in poverty. What poverty does to the mind is it keeps you in a place of survival,&rdquo; Zaytoun said.</p>
<p>&ldquo;A lot of these environments that our children are growing up in are toxic, toxins that you can see and smell such as the ones that come with inadequate housing, and others that we can&rsquo;t see and smell that come with neglect and abuse,&rdquo; she continued before proposing arts education for young people as something that can help heal.</p>
<p>In his talk, titled &ldquo;Photography and the Human Spirit,&rdquo; journalist and photographer Steve Rockstein explored an approach to image-making he called &ldquo;conscious camera work&rdquo; which &ldquo;combines the brain and the heart.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Rockstein shared with his audience images made in both the studio and the field that he said derived their power from the trust he was able to establish with his subjects.</p>
<p>Medical director and founder of Healing Wings International Leslie-Ann Williams delivered a talk titled &ldquo;Taking Care of the ME in Medicine&rdquo; in which she called attention to the &ldquo;disturbing trend of physician suicide and burnout.&rdquo;</p>
<p>&ldquo;As physicians we are humans&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s important that we nurture and care for the only body we have if we are going to heal others.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Curator Priscilla Hintz Rivera Knight, in her talk titled &ldquo;What is Arts-Driven Economic Development and what can it mean for the Virgin Islands?,&rdquo;asked event attendees to imagine potential community art projects that can be both creatively rich and economically fruitful for the territory.</p>
<p>Rape survivor Claire McFarlane delivered a talk titled &quot;Can adventure change how we talk about rape?&rdquo; in which she recounted a harrowing personal experience of sexual violence before introducing the audience to her new initiative to help &ldquo;break the silence&rdquo; surrounding rape. That initiative is a sports-related fundraiser that will involve her running 16 kilometers of beach in every coastal country in the world.</p>
<p>&ldquo;Sport unites us. Sport brings communities together to take a stand about things that they believe in,&rdquo; McFarlane said.</p>
<p>Kenyan-born atmospheric and climate scientist Sandra Maina spoke about her firsthand experience with the Southern Louisiana community of Isle de Jean Charles, whose members are in danger of losing their identity with the loss of their land to climate change.</p>
<p>In her talk, &quot;Vanishing Lands: The Untold Story of Our Nation’s First Climate Change Refugees,&rdquo; Maina made the case that the world must prepare for increasing climate change related dislocations such as those faced by the people of Isle de Jean Charles.</p>
<p>Alex Randall, professor of communication at the University of the Virgin Islands, said in a talk titled &ldquo;Wake Up!&rdquo; that making sense of dreams is all about learning their language, which is unique to each individual.</p>
<p>Racquel Berry-Benjamin, deputy superintendent of schools in the St. Thomas-St. John School District gave a talk about discovering self and developing authenticity titled &ldquo;So You Say You Want to Be Happy?&rdquo;</p>
<p>Filmmaker Paul Cater Deaton, in his talk &rdquo;The Only Good Shark,&quot; spoke about the false, negative image of sharks that leads many to be apathetic about a sharp drop in many species&rsquo; global populations. Deaton delivered the humorous statistic that &ldquo;selfies&rdquo; have recently joined the long list of things that kill more people each year than sharks.</p>
<p>Also included at Saturday&rsquo;s event were two short videotaped TED talks introduced to break up the longer live speakers. These lighthearted mini-lectures were delivered by Mark Bezos, whose talk was titled &ldquo;A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter&rdquo; and Derek Sivers, whose talk was titled &ldquo;How to Start a Movement.&rdquo;</p>
<p>&ldquo;We took the feedback from last year and used it,&rdquo; said TEDx Saint Thomas organizer Brigitte Berry after the event was finished. &ldquo;There were a lot of practice sessions for the speakers and we are really pleased with the results tonight.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Berry said one of the things she was most pleased with was the attendance of valedictorians and salutatorians from some local high schools including Charlotte Amalie High School, St. Thomas-St. John Seventh Day Adventist School and Montessori School. TEDx Saint Thomas invited all V.I. valedictorian and salutatorians from the class of 2016 to attend the event for free.</p>
<p>For those community members who couldn&rsquo;t attend, each of Saturday&rsquo;s speakers was recorded on video and their lectures will be made available for free viewing online at tedxsaintthomas.com, where last year&rsquo;s talks also can be streamed.</p>
<p>Partners and sponsors of TEDx Saint Thomas include 183 Media, Antilles School, Glazer&rsquo;s Premier Wine and Spirits, Toastmasters, 2AI Labs, United Electronic Industries Services, Fintrac, Goldman Law Offices, International and Capital Management Company, Scoops and Brew, Triple B Food Truck, and Links Gourmet Sausages.&nbsp;</p>

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