TED xpresses Ideas in Providence

TED talks have helped define viral video with their characteristic format. If you have email and a pulse, you’ve been forwarded at least a few TED talks over the last several years. Their “Ideas Worth Sharing” places experts and thought leaders — often people you might not have heard of, sometimes in fields you didn’t realize existed — on a large, round red carpet in front of an audience, and lets them talk.

Presentations are kept brief, topping out at 18 minutes. Often informative, sometimes intriguing, these pieces of video have been known to change the way people think about major issues. To encourage outside-the-box thinking, TED opened up regional offshoots called TEDx. Rhode Island’s took place on May 11.

Three segments presented local experts in arenas of social enterprise, arts and culture in our society, and gastronomy. The talks should be available on video soon.


Look for wise words from state poet Rick Benjamin and Rasoi creator Sanjiv Dhar, and learn about the origins of AS220 in a rousing anecdote by founder Bert Crenca. Waterfire founder Barnaby Evans describes the origins of that esteemed art event, and Davide Dukcevich has a charming and funny presentation on the wonders of gourmet ham.

Educationally, Khalil Fuller makes math fun and describes proven methods for engaging kids to learn practical math skills, while Angela Jackson discusses her involvement with the Global Language Project, which expands students’ horizons with foreign language education. Terry Nathan talked about creating jobs that are also art at the International Yacht Restoration School, and Hilary Jones talked about empowering and educating girls through Girls Rock!

There were presentations on the importance of being connected to your food, and to having it connected to natural and local processes — in the earth (by Emily Jodka) and in the sea (by Sara Schumann), and a remarkably well-spoken and self-possessed teen (Cassandra Lin) who created a community grease recycling program. Lisa Raiola shares a compelling personal story that led to the creation of an innovative commercial kitchen at Hope & Main in Warren.

In the realm of social enterprise, Meg Wirth described Maternova, a company bringing safer obstetric care to developing areas. Andy Posner described the Capital Good Fund, a program that helps combat poverty by connecting smaller investments with those who can leverage them.