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TEDxDetroit attendees gather outside to form an "X"

Driving back from Detroit to Toledo through steady rain, we find ourselves going over and over the speakers and presentations we’ve just enjoyed at today’s event: the third TEDxDetroit. The event, described as an independently produced offspring of the annual TED, is a gathering of big brains and cool creators. TEDxDetroit is organized and staffed by Detroiters who passionately believe in the future of their city.

This year’s TEDxDetroit featured more than a dozen presentations from entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, educators, designers, scientists and technologists–each with a connection to the city of Detroit and a positive idea to share with the world.

Part of the fun of the event is not knowing the speakers beforehand. Who would have expected to listen to the founder of Baby Einstein talk about how she started her business in her kitchen, sold it to Disney and survived not one but two bouts with cancer? Who would have thought that listening to a professor from Wayne State talk about quarks, and the viscosity of the plasma within them, would be so riveting? And who would have known a nine year old entrepreneur could inspire admiration and steal your heart at the same time? I didn’t realize we are behind the rest of the world in robotics development and hadn’t given any thought to the finer points of selling cherries.

Bobby Smith, of En Garde Detroit, stole our hearts with his wry humor and passionate call for improvements in our educational system. Christina Keller, of Triple Quest/Cascade Engineering, provided not one but several inspiring examples of building businesses that give back and Veronica Scott, of the Empowerment Plan, told a compelling story of her experiences in learning to design and manufacture coats for the homeless.

One voice, a powerful voice, was missing. I hadn’t known that poet David Blair, someone I met at the first TEDxDetroit, passed away during the summer. He was a ferociously gifted individual and our world is the poorer for his loss.


And so we find ourselves reliving the experience on the drive home through the rain. Remembering how compelling Dr. Debenedet’s talk about the importance of rough housing was. Giggling at the thought of launching 1000 paper airplanes, marveling at the beauty of the violin music.

The prevailing message was of hope and excitement. Inspiration. Belief. Dedication. About all that life has to offer, all that we as individuals can do and about the fierce and intense belief in the future of the city of Detroit. Kudos to Charlie Wollborg and the team who have worked so hard to create another magnificent and inspiring event.

We’ll be back next year.

And, Elena? The food really was delicious.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]